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…