Am needing some Pastoral advice on balancing love for the sheep, remembering their weak frames, with parenting, with fellowship, with hospitality, in the context of a Lord’s Day morning at Church.

How do you balance the realities of having multiple families with many children (a good thing) and all the activity which accompanies said families, with the need for communion and fellowship particular to Christians, and the reverence associated with the Lord’s day gathering, without becoming the frozen chosen: families filing into the church house single file, then up the stairs to their pews, with no “hellos”, no giggles, no family to family interactions? Clearly, we ought to have time and space which allows for the interaction of adults, (bearing one anothers burdens, praying for one another, etc), and allows for the everyday, typical disruptions of your average child (spills, squeals, laughs,etc), yet without degenerating into an environment akin to a typical living room or Chuck E. Cheese experience, which in my view seriously disrupts your ability to be hospitable to one another, and guests.


Can you expand a bit on your question?

I think you’re asking about being hospitable to guests on Sunday morning at church, right? But that other responsibilities like caring for children can make that hard?

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There’s probably no formula for getting this perfect. My church, which I think does this well, welcomes children and families, with occasional pastoral exhortations as needed on particular issues related to this. A hospitality luncheon by parish every week has been hugely helpful in the welcoming and community building aspect of this, but it occurs after the formal service is done. If elders or others need to slow some kids down, or tell them to take it outside, they do so.

Growing up, our church did well with hospitality. We had a sign-up sheet where families could be the ones ready to have someone over. That official structure made the need clear. One of the elders was also able to invite new people over most weeks. Generally, would say that some families are just better at it regardless of number of children.

Let me try to rephrase the question:
Our church is growing pretty fast. We have a lot of young families and a lot of young children. We have about 130 people on Sunday morning and half are children. The times before and after the service can be very loud. Children like to run, play, and parents want to fellowship ie talk together.

I think Aaron is asking how do we encourage more reverence, and better parenting in these times, without trying to stifle the life of the congregation.

Pastor Dave gave a helpful exhortation to Clearnote last Sunday on the same topic. On the FB live it starts about 28 minutes in.

I think the context might be different but still could be a helpful thing to listen to.

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Sorry, I misunderstood.

I think these rules could be in order:

  • No shouting on the stairs (assuming there is an echo)
  • Low voices in the narthex/lobby (applies to adults, too)
  • Kids play outside when possible–and make sure they can really play, have sports equipment/chalk/etc. available

Hopefully you have a couple men in your congregation whose voices carry and who are liked by the children. They are great at telling kids to knock it off without appearing unkind. :slight_smile:

This is worthy of at least one podcast, given how many things are involved in this question. I’d start with one principle: whatever is going on with people and their children before and after worship needs to be under the watchful eye and authority of the pastor, and secondarily his elders. No one is as sensitive to what obstructs worship and fellowship as the shepherd. He needs to make decisions based upon his sense of what is and isn’t helpful to the souls of his sheep as they worship and fellowship, and then he must expect his elders and their wives to implement his decisions.

But of course, it he’s wise, no one will know he’s made any decisions. They’ll simply accede to his requests that they go over to Johnnie and tell him no one’s allowed to play with balls anywhere around (in the same space or room) where adults are fellowshipping. They’ll not resent him when he himself takes the ball away and rebukes the children for not being considerate of the adults they’re intimadating with their play. He’ll tell his elder’s five-year-old son to stop yelling, and go outside. He’ll explain why to the son also, and if it gets heated with that son, he’ll head any resentment of that son’s Dad or Mother off at the pass by going to them after the episode and explaining what he did and said, and why.

Could go on at great length and detail about this matter, including that pastors and elders should not waste gathering time speaking to each other, even though they most certainly are friends and enjoy each other’s company much more than spending time caring for the wounded and marginal sheep of the church. Rather, they should devote themselves to exhorting, encouraging, and rebuking the sheep this one day or time they are present and engaged. In this connection, I would say the vast majority of my exhorations, rebukes, and encouragements specifically to this or that ram, ewe, and lamb came incidentally on Lord’s Day mornings, often in the foyer or door of the church.

Gathering time (usually Lord’s Day morning) is the most precious opportunity to improve and guard your flock, so do everything (and expect others to do everything) possible to make this time count. Including the conversations of your wife and your elders wives and your elders as well as the children of the church.

And make sure you touch and hug the older widows. It might be the only time they are touched all week…