Preaching Articles



I was recently at a conference where each day the Bible study was led by a performance artist/theologian who acted out the biblical story and gave some exegetical/theological insight to the Scriptures. The content was terrific: substantial and challenging. But on the second day, a baby began to jibber-jabber loudly in the audience.

After a few minutes of this, the performer stopped the show, looked in frustration at the baby and parent, and said, “I love children, but I’m getting really distracted.” The parent and child got up and left the room … followed by several other parents who went out in solidarity and in protest. 

I talked later with the parent and made this claim: A crying baby is a test as to whether someone is preaching or performing.

A performance is about focus and transmission of content—a solo or group act is on-stage doing an activity (singing, dancing, speaking, painting, instrument performance, etc.)—and it is the audience’s job to receive the content and appreciate or engage it.

A sermon (and I tend to appreciate black preachers’ definitions of sermons and preaching) is “verbal and nonverbal communication of the inward manifestation of a command by the Holy Spirit to relate to others something about God’s presence, purpose and power in one’s life and in the life of all of humanity.” (Teresa Fry Brown, Delivering the Sermon, pp. 17).

Given these two definitions, I get how babies can be a distraction to a performance. As a parent of an 11-month-old, my crying baby seems to be about 10x louder for me than she is for other people. Her cries are amplified, and her running commentary on her dad’s sermon pierces through a crowd. So I get how a baby would interrupt a performance’s transmission of beauty or message because they interrupt that well-crafted focus.

But preaching is about naming and claiming God’s love present in the room. It’s about that Holy Spirit that isn’t given to the preacher and then transmitted to the people: that Spirit is in each one there and they communicate back and forth. Churches that have call-and-response to the preaching moment get this phenomenon, and to them, crying babies are just another “amen” section. The preacher is preaching if they connect with the congregation; calling out a crying baby and causing them to leave idolizes the spoken word as more important than the body of Christ fully present in the room.

There are practical considerations: Churches create “cry rooms” so that parents feel more comfortable (and, to be honest, some non-parents, as well). Other parishioners can help comfort the baby if the parent is OK with it. I’ve seen my share of church-fails such as when another parishioner took a baby out of the parents hands and walked with the baby out of the sanctuary—had I been a more fully aware preacher, that would have merited a call-out! Let’s be clear: Parents self-selecting to take a baby out is one thing; public shaming or pressure to send a baby out is wholly another.

It’s my belief that if I can’t preach over, above, through or alongside a crying baby, then I have no business preaching. And I should do serious reflection as to whether I am performing the Word of God or if I am allowing the Word to speak through and without me—and the latter will not be stopped by a crying baby, and indeed, it is incomplete without the presence of all who need to experience it.

What say you?



The Rev. Jeremy Smith is an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church and currently serves as Minister of Discipleship at First United Methodist Church in Portland, Oregon. He blogs about faith, technology, and geeky topics at http://HackingChristianity.net

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Bryan Herrington

commented on Sep 21, 2013

I appreciate your perspective but have to disagree. Our church offers multiiple levels of opportunities for parents with infants through grade school during our worship times. When a baby so inhibits to worship and the Word there are times that something has to be lovingly done to carry out God's greater mission.

James Walker

commented on Sep 21, 2013

Amen, Bryan.

Simon P

commented on Sep 21, 2013

All I can say Jeremy is that you just opened up a can of worms on this one. Many preachers will disagree. That being said - let comments begin!

Simon P

commented on Sep 21, 2013

Really?

Brad Brucker

commented on Sep 21, 2013

Baby's are a blessing. We have lots of them. And yes, they cry! Praise The Lord! A older church next door to us has none and it is virtually a dead church with about 30 in attendance. A crying baby is an indication of life and blessing! I am never distracted by a crying baby, but yes, the congregation is. I believe it is my job to recognize the congregations response to a crying baby and their distraction and make light of it in the middle of my sermon and pause and say, "isn't it great we have babies? It means our church is alive and well! Praise God!" Or, "baby's have a tendency to act their age, we should too!" Jesus said, "Let the little children come..." Shouldn't we also! As preachers we have the authority to transform the cultural attitudes of our congregation toward many things! Shouldn't we also try to align the cultural attitudes of our listeners with Jesus regarding babies?

Jeff Glenn

commented on Sep 21, 2013

Good word!

Charles Hatfield

commented on Sep 21, 2013

"I talked later with the parent and made this claim: A crying baby is a test as to whether someone is preaching or performing." What a judgmental statement! Wow! I can't even begin to comment on this article. It compares apples to oranges, (the theater illustration to preaching). "It?s my belief that if I can?t preach over, above, through or alongside a crying baby, then I have no business preaching. And I should do serious reflection as to whether I am performing the Word of God or if I am allowing the Word to speak through and without me..." Another judgmental statement! I normally do not comment on anything, but this article needs some serious work. There is some merit to what is being said, but such harsh statements do not allow a productive dialogue.

Vaughn Rasor

commented on Sep 21, 2013

I challenge you to get past your judgemental attitude and consider the spirit of what he is saying.

Charles Hatfield

commented on Sep 21, 2013

"I challenge you to get past your judgemental attitude and consider the spirit of what he is saying." This is another judgmental statement. You don't know me or how I would like to comment on this article. I know what he is saying. I am commenting on HOW he is saying what he wants to say. HOW we say something can get in the way of getting across WHAT we want to say.

Vaughn Rasor

commented on Sep 21, 2013

thank you for you comments. You proved my point.

Charles Hatfield

commented on Sep 21, 2013

Hope you have a good sermon tomorrow! ...If you regularly preach each week.

Charles Hatfield

commented on Sep 21, 2013

You and Tim have shown me today that this form of communication not where I will go again. I tried it. It didn't work. I do hope you have a good sermon tomorrow or whenever. I just don't know if you preach each Sunday. Nothing more was meant. I will again address my congregation tomorrow, FULL OF CHILDREN, grateful that they are there, and loving each and every one of them and their parents. Somehow you misinterpreted what I was trying to communicate. You, Tim, and SermonCentral, will not be bothered by my comments again. This medium of communication apparently is for others, not me. Peace...

Clarence Bolton

commented on Sep 21, 2013

What was your point?

Vaughn Rasor

commented on Sep 22, 2013

Thank you Charles for your encouragement. I have preached every Sunday for the past 20 years and I pray for your sermon as well. It appears that I came across too harsh and I ask your forgiveness and pray that you see this. I am not very good at this medium. Love you brother

James Walker

commented on Sep 21, 2013

I agree with you Charles! What an incredible and faulty litmus test God's messenger. Sad. Hang in there Charles and stand for the right!

Vaughn Rasor

commented on Sep 21, 2013

Your position is in complete agreement with mine. I encourage babies in the congregation. Mothers love this and are considerate of others if their baby will not settle down. I tell people that Jesus preached to crowds and crowds are not quiet. The is a limit to how long a baby can cry, but I let the mothers decide and have no problems and they love coming to church.

Jeff Glenn

commented on Sep 21, 2013

Good word!

Jeff Glenn

commented on Sep 21, 2013

One of the sweetest sounds in a church is a crying baby. That means there's life still in the church. Now I realize that on occasions, some babies may need to be taken out to have their needs attended to, but after all, they are babies. Quite often my wife will ask me if that crying baby was a distraction as I was preaching and I normally respond by asking, "What baby?" GREAT ARTICLE! (I am looking forward to reading other comments!)

Beverly Birchfield

commented on Sep 21, 2013

There are many sitting in the congregation that are looking to dodge God's word...something they desparatly need. The enemy will hold back nothing to prevent someone from hearing what the Spirit is saying. The unsaved as well as those who in the valley of decision, needing to hear can be distracted to the point of tuning out what God is saying...many in the congregation will do practially anything to get the baby's attention...I have seen silly faces, shaking toys, offers of candy and gum, throwing hands in the air, taking the baby and walking about with it until eveyone in the church is attending the baby... ... Sometimes the problem is worse than the cure . People love their little ones and feel as you seem to, that we should just pretend it's not a problem. I fail to see your point...is it that only the preacher is having a prob with the distraction? Flesh is definitely the problem and there are loving ways to deal with this...the congregation needs a good teaching on the importance of giving the Holy Spirit optimum place. When He is dealing with peoples very soul and the screaming of a 6 monthes old baby draws their attention away. Go to the movies, if you are disrupting others you will be asked to remove the child.

Brad Brucker

commented on Sep 21, 2013

Beverly, would they come to church at a ll if they were looking to dodge God's word? The disciples thought children were a distraction ... We need to ask ourselves WWJD? Scripture gives us the definitive answer. Don't dodge it!

James Walker

commented on Sep 21, 2013

Amen! We are in the minority opinion, but I am with you! Love kids and I love good order and discipline as well.

James Walker

commented on Sep 21, 2013

I meant "Amen, Beverly!"

James Dunkin

commented on Sep 21, 2013

My motto is that there is only one thing worse than the sounds of children in worship...and that is NO sounds of children in worship!

Brad Brucker

commented on Sep 21, 2013

Nice!

Jeff Glenn

commented on Sep 21, 2013

I would like to see Sermon Central place "Like" icons/links on the comment thread.

Bob Sharp

commented on Sep 21, 2013

I'll bet Jeremy Smith's flock loves Him and him. I remember one Sunday the greatest distraction was an older deacon and his wife. Guess some of these Pastors will have "hard of hearing deacon's rooms next". Bet they don't send them out of the room. I agree with the brother who commented regarding Jesus' attitude toward children. Then it occurred to me how often we are referred to in scripture as children. I would be dismayed to think God would send me from the room when I cry. Lastly, :-) We are an aging congregation and cherish the the cry and noise of the young.

Brad Brucker

commented on Sep 21, 2013

Praise God!

Jeff Glenn

commented on Sep 21, 2013

We have an older man in our church who goes to sleep and his wife always "pokes" him to wake him up and he normally says very loudly, "WHAT DO YOU WANT?" When this occurs, it is very distracting, especially on Wednesday nights! Bob, I had to "chuckle" at your comment! Good word!

Frank Gant

commented on Sep 21, 2013

t is not only the preacher who has to deal with distractions during the services, it's also who are trying to learn and grow from what the pastor is saying. I've been in many services where a crying infant was distracting others but only once have I been present when the pastor stopped and asked that a crying baby be taken outside. I much prefer the latter than the former! We go to church to learn and grow closer to God; have you ever tried studying for an exam with a crying baby in the room? How did that work out for you?

Carter Blain

commented on Sep 24, 2013

Yes Frank Gant, I agree with your statement. I been called by God to deliver the Word to His people. The Bible has not changed. These same mother's would be asked to leave a town hall with a crying baby. Courts will not allow a baby in the court room. Why would these same mothers think that they can come to God house with a crying baby or a big 3 year old running all over the house of God? The pastor is to bring forth the Word of God. I know that a baby will cry. I have had children of my own in the church. When any of my children started to cry. I would get up and walk back and forth out side and I could still hear the word being taught by the pastor. You have mother's that come to the church with no intention of hearing or learning what is being taught. I know this and many other pastor's. Some mother's have raise two set of children in the church. The first set of the two children that they raised ended not good at all (in jail). These same mothers are raising the grandchildren the same way. I talking about prison. I see the pattern. I'm talking about the mothers that let their children run all over the church when I am trying to deliver a sermon. These mothers want to distract the service. I have said nothing for a long time. Others call and states "pastor why do you put up with this. I don't want to run them off." I prayed about them and I like it His way of doing things. I have seen God move more than I could ever move. Christians must remember it is God house. They are not coming against the pastor. They are coming against God. Case closed.

Carter Blain

commented on Sep 24, 2013

Yes Frank Gant, I agree with your statement. I been called by God to deliver the Word to His people. The Bible has not changed. These same mother's would be asked to leave a town hall with a crying baby. Courts will not allow a baby in the court room. Why would these same mothers think that they can come to God house with a crying baby or a big 3 year old running all over the house of God? The pastor is to bring forth the Word of God. I know that a baby will cry. I have had children of my own in the church. When any of my children started to cry. I would get up and walk back and forth out side and I could still hear the word being taught by the pastor. You have mother's that come to the church with no intention of hearing or learning what is being taught. I know this and many other pastor's. Some mother's have raise two set of children in the church. The first set of the two children that they raised ended not good at all (in jail). These same mothers are raising the grandchildren the same way. I talking about prison. I see the pattern. I'm talking about the mothers that let their children run all over the church when I am trying to deliver a sermon. These mothers want to distract the service. I have said nothing for a long time. Others call and states "pastor why do you put up with this. I don't want to run them off." I prayed about them and I like it His way of doing things. I have seen God move more than I could ever move. Christians must remember it is God house. They are not coming against the pastor. They are coming against God. Case closed.

Jeff Glenn

commented on Sep 21, 2013

Another thought just occurred to me: A few Wednesdays nights ago, a man in our church started making funny faces at a baby sitting in front of him. It was VERY distracting. The baby was also my grandson!

David Jennys

commented on Sep 21, 2013

I fully agree with what Jeremy has written. To call out a mother because of a fussy child is another way that the church/pastor demonstrates misogynous attitudes toward women. Also! thinking that a child is disturbing the flow of the worship service and somehow blocking what the Spirit is doing is a limited view of the power of God to work in and through us during the worship,experience. Do wereallythink that God is taken by surprise by a crying child? Maybe our plans went awry, but God's didn't.

Brad Brucker

commented on Sep 21, 2013

I agree with everything u said , except the connect to mysogynous attitudes. I think that's taking the discussion too far. Sorry David. God bless you though!

David Jennys

commented on Sep 22, 2013

Brad, the reason I think that calling out a mother for a crying child is misogynous is because women usually bear the brunt of such negative attitudes. I would say that 9.9 of the time a non-pastoral preacher would address the mother and not the father over a crying child.

Sakhiwo Ntshiqa

commented on Sep 21, 2013

Sending the baby away is just the same as saying parents with children are unwelcome. .

Peter Dohnt

commented on Sep 21, 2013

Many wonder why the older teens and young adults tend to leave the church after being brought up in it their whole lives. I wonder how many were made uncomfortable when they were little - either directly or by conformative pressure on their parents. I suspect there could be a correlation between how we treat/embrace families in their entirety and the losing of the next generation within.

Terry Threadgill

commented on Sep 21, 2013

Amen! I've been preaching over 30 years and I crying baby has never created a problem for me. Proves someone's alive out there! Lol

Steven Nestor

commented on Sep 21, 2013

Well written and right on point. We have far to many "performers" and not enough "preachers" in the pulpits of America. We all have to remember, this is not about us or our own private agendas.

Alan Parrish

commented on Sep 21, 2013

I have preached at churches that have a nursery that can fit 300 babies and I have preached at churches that had no electricity or running water -- just a lantern hanging from the ceiling and an outhouse out back of the sanctuary. I have preached through crying babies, running toddlers, and even boisterous teenagers. Running toddlers and boisterous teens are one thing: that is behavior than can be controlled by proper discipline. However, a baby cannot control crying or babbling, and I don't want them to! A baby crying or babbling is a beautiful sound, and it should be up to the parent as to whether they take the child out. If a congregation feels that a baby crying is inappropriate in a church service, then they can develop a nursery ministry... there are people gifted with nursery service in every congregation!

Charles Wallis

commented on Sep 21, 2013

The sound of babies is the sound of life!

Tim Secrist

commented on Sep 21, 2013

Charles Hatfield, you said that "such harsh statements do not allow a productive dialogue." If that is true, why do you even comment at all, let alone twice? did you intend for your comments to be productive? Just curious.

Charles Hatfield

commented on Sep 21, 2013

Don't think I will ever enter into dialogue like this again. I really like talking face to face. Just thought I would try. I never have tried blog stuff before, but I see that it doesn't work for me. You won't hear from me again Tim.

James Walker

commented on Sep 21, 2013

Leave Charles alone.

Tim Secrist

commented on Sep 23, 2013

Hi James, are you a friend or Charles, and/ or do you think I was picking on him? I assure you I was not picking on him, just pointing out a flaw in his logic. Be assured that my intentions were good even if my attempt was poor.

Dan Keeton

commented on Sep 21, 2013

The two questions of being distracted by a crying baby and whether a person is a preacher or a performer don't seem connected to me. a great performer wouldn't be distracted by anything because their focus would be razor sharp.. The performer is engaged in a one-way communication that has been rehearsed and prepared. The preacher is measuring congregational feedback and response and listening to God's Spirit in the communication process. Overcoming distractions can be done but it can be a top candidate process that can only be learned with continued experience. But, embarrassing a parent has no place in the church.

Bryan Thompson

commented on Sep 21, 2013

The preacher would have lost me at the word "but". "I love children, but..." Come on! But nothing. He should have put a period there and loved that mom and child.

Jonathan Bell

commented on Sep 21, 2013

In reference to the article by Jeremy Smith on preachers, performers and crying babies I find this subject to be a rather delicate one. Since the primary event in the church ought to be preaching rather than performing, I?ll keep my remarks in that context. Without doubt an unruly and undisciplined child can most definitely be a tool of distraction when God?s servant is trying to communicate divine truth. I have preached on mission fields with children running about, sitting on the front row blowing bubbles with bubblegum, etc., with seemingly little negative effect on the Holy Spirit?s ability to communicate with the audience. On the other hand I have preached in the local church where the chronic ill behavior of children most definitely distracted people from hearing truth that God intended them to benefit from. How you handle these problems as a pastor makes all the difference. Public humiliation is completely out of the question! I have on occasion gone privately to parents who seem to miss the obvious concerning their child?s church behavior. In a nonthreatening environment I explain in love and compassion that they could improve the worship experience for their family and others by teaching their children appropriate church behavior. As for the occasional, spontaneous crying of a baby...let it ring! It is a sign of beautiful life in the church! I have learned that when it comes to mothers and babies, a longsuffering spirit rules the day!

Kevin Brown

commented on Sep 21, 2013

Preaching through distractions of any sort can be difficlut. What make a crying bababy challenging is that the child is unable to define the problem or formulate a proper solution. While the pastors role is to daclarw the truth, distractos affect not just the preacher but the congregation. It takes the body of Christ working together to help curtail problems.

James Walker

commented on Sep 21, 2013

If crying babies distracting the preacher is the litmus test whether or not the minister is a performer or preacher ... I am with no apology -- A Performer! You can add multiple slow walks by the same child to the restroom and ..... to the list.

Phil Kitchin

commented on Sep 21, 2013

Are you guys joking? Crying babies are a distraction for everybody. Being distracted by a screaming kid doesn't prove that you are a performer or a preacher, it proves that you are human. God created the baby's cry to say, "Hey, something's wrong!" It's a fire-alarm, a plea for relief, a signal for comfort. If someone screamed "fire" in your sanctuary, do you think you might be distracted? Crying babies are why God created nurseries. Mother's who refuse to take their babies to the nursery are helicopter Moms and need to stop being selfish, over-protective, control freaks. Let the feeding frenzy begin!

James Walker

commented on Sep 21, 2013

Amen, Phil! I think there is a lot of judgment on God's messengers who have trouble keeping their train of thought because of a crying baby, .... people talking out loud .... or children getting up to make multiple trips to the the restroom or .... (I, not the author add this list to make a point)

Phil Kitchin

commented on Sep 21, 2013

Are you guys joking? Crying babies are a distraction for everybody. Being distracted by a screaming kid doesn't prove that you are a performer or a preacher, it proves that you are human. God created the baby's cry to say, "Hey, something's wrong!" It's a fire-alarm, a plea for relief, a signal for comfort. If someone screamed "fire" in your sanctuary, do you think you might be distracted? Crying babies are why God created nurseries. Mother's who refuse to take their babies to the nursery are helicopter Moms and need to stop being selfish, over-protective, control freaks. Let the feeding frenzy begin!

Michael Whitt

commented on Sep 21, 2013

I minister at an Assisted Living Facility, everyone is at least 80 years old. Every Sunday one member or another will start talking to whoever is sitting close to them, about whatever is on their mind. I smile and keep right on with my sermon. A baby crying is just another reason to speak a little louder. Another point is that if a baby is crying, at least the child is keeping everyone awake!

April Rogers

commented on Sep 21, 2013

Some years ago, I was going thru a period of brokenness and I went to a church because I needed to hear a word. I was taken aback when the usher told me to sit in the rear because I had my baby with me. I really wanted to sit up closer because I really needed to be as close to the pulpit as possible. I was equally frustrated when the usher escorted me out of the sanctuary not once but three times, because my baby was making noises. I could not believe it, and after the third time, I left and vowed never to come back. I have read some of these comments and it saddens me. I really appreciate those who realize that crying babies should not be excluded from worship as with anyone else, because you will never know the impact it could have on the child or parent!

Michael Whitt

commented on Sep 21, 2013

I am sorry to hear that someone is more concerned about a baby crying than reaching those who need to hear the word.

Jay Youn

commented on Sep 21, 2013

This is not so much a concern for the minister being distracted as it is the audience being distracted. The minister should not be preaching a sermon, (or performing, as some would suggest) but he should be delivering a message from the heart of God. That message is a message of hope, deliverance, correction, etc, and the devils objective is to do his best to distract the hearer from hearing the message. As hard as this May be for some mothers to receive, he is not above using your little precious bundle of joy to make sure the one that should receive the message misses it. What can your infant possibly gain from being in the service vs. what message can be distorted? When a baby begins to interfere with message, they should absolutely be removed. The message is certainly more important than the feelings of a misled mother!

Charles Ingwe

commented on Sep 21, 2013

Alot of wise statements have already been made here and I just want to express my views as well. Babies are a blessing but not crying. If crying was a blessing then we could have been enjoying seeing babies cry. Crying is a means of communication that a baby must be attended to. When a baby keeps crying and it is not attended to the loving Holy Spirit will be the first one to get concerned about such a non caring church. He will even see how hypocritical such a church is because how can they be able to pick the still voice of the Holy Spirit and yet fail to pick the loud voice of a troubled child. The perfomer or whatever may have been wrong or selfish in the way he tried to remind the parent to be sensitive to the calling of the child but what is cardinal is to see to it that we correct the performer and tell parents to be sensitive to the calling of babies. The wrong commited by our brother in that church must not make us emotional but allow us to know that since everything happens for good unto us that love the lord, this is a good lesson for us all as regards how we have neglected our babies when they have called to us helplessly in pain. If one can not notice the agony of his/her child in the midst of many looking eyes how possible is it that such a parent gets concerned when he/she is on a couch reading a favourite novel. Double lesson in what happened in that church. We need also take note of the fact that there is time for everything since man can easily get distracted. This is a fact.

Ferdinand C Nnadi

commented on Sep 22, 2013

I see no point in over-spiritualizing the issue. While children and their mothers should form a veritable part of a living church, I am yet to see the connection between sheer distraction by a crying baby and being a textbook preacher. It is becoming commonplace for some people to quote Jesus and the Bible out of context. Jesus asked that children should not be turned away but imagine what would have been His attitude were children distracting at the Sermon On The Mount and other instances when he was making key faith points. A church should have workers (like ushers) who should assist the minister/preacher maintain requisite order during sermons. God/Holy Spirit is not the author of confusion. Remember that Apostle Paul admonished orderliness and decorum to the Corinthian church. I really do not contemplate a preacher led by the spirit of God asking that a mother and her crying baby leave a church service. Nonetheless, would it not have helped had some of the people/congregants showing negative solidarity with the baby and her mother done something about the problem when it was obvious that there was distraction. After all, communication is a two-way thing. It takes a dynamic congregation to make a dynamic preacher. I believe. Were we not asked to work out salvation...?

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 23, 2013

"imagine what would have been His attitude were children distracting at the Sermon On The Mount and other instances when he was making key faith points." Actually, we don't need to imagine. The Gospels point out many times when Jesus was "interrupted" or "distracted" and it never seemed to phase him one bit. Rather, he often used what others considered distractions as teachable moments.

Ferdinand C Nnadi

commented on Sep 23, 2013

Well, Mr Bills Williams, I really do not get your viewpoint. It would have been very auspicious for this forum if you had furnished us with instances where Jesus sanctioned- directly or indirectly-distractions or similar sort of din during his ministry. I do not think you are getting the context. A lot of people erroneously view Jesus through the prism of a magician or stuntman. It will help a lot if we begin to realise that Jesus was a perfect communicator:he never ignored feedback. Jesus never asked us to stifle common sense or needful actions when the occasions demanded them. Are you that instead of engaging our initiatives to soothe or mollify a crying baby so that the sermon could proceed, we should carry on in denial of reality? My brother, that is not christianity but a veritable form of escapism.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 23, 2013

Wow...you got all of that out of a 40-word comment? Well, impressive. But wrong. So, allow me to take a few more words to clarify what I meant (and by the way, it is perfectly acceptable to ask someone to elaborate when they are brief, rather than assuming a lot more than was actually written!) "Jesus never asked us to stifle common sense or needful actions when the occasions demanded them." Yeah, I never suggested he did. What I WROTE (and you can read it again if you'd like) is that Jesus used the normal distractions that came up in the ordinary course of life as teachable moments. "instead of engaging our initiatives to soothe or mollify a crying baby so that the sermon could proceed, we should carry on in denial of reality?" Umm, no, I neither wrote nor implied such a thing. Of course we should "soothe or mollify a crying baby". As others have rightly pointed out, babies usually cry for a reason. And I never said anything about "carrying on in denial of reality." On the contrary, I mentioned above that life is full of distractions and interruptions. The real denial of reality would be to worship in an environment that pretends fussy babies do not exist. Now, as far as the instances that you requested, one of the clearest examples is found in Mark 2:1-12. Here we find Jesus preaching, when a group of people make a hole in the roof and let down a bed with a paralytic laying on it. Now, I don't know about you, but I might think that making a hole in a church roof during a worship service would be a much greater distraction than a fussy baby whose mother would not take him out. Imagine what would've been Jesus' attitude towards them for disrupting his preaching! But oh, we don't have to imagine! For the text tells us clearly Jesus' response. He had discernment to recognize that God was at work in this "distraction." So he interrupted his sermon to provide both spiritual and physical healing to the man in need. And he used it as a teachable moment, to demonstrate that "the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins." So, rest assured brother, I am by no means advocating any form of "escapism." I'm not saying we should ignore distractions. On the contrary, I'm saying we should take advantage of distractions for the glory of God! I'm advocating for a return to a REAL Christianity, one that does not try to minimize and remove distractions at all possible costs, but that recognizes the presence of God in those distractions! Anyway, I hope this has been helpful to you. And in the future, if you have questions about anything I've written, please feel free to ask for elaboration before jumping to conclusions. Blessings to you!

Ferdinand C Nnadi

commented on Sep 23, 2013

We are asked to always walk in love. Nobody knows it all. You will agree with me that the instance in Mark 2 you proffered is basically dissimilar to the case being reviewed. The picture painted in that incident is that the room/house was so thronged that the paralytic's friends/relatives had to lower him to Jesus through the roof. I do not think the cardinal lesson herein was distraction but rather the faith that friends/relatives reposed in Jesus in ensuring that the man got his healing even going as far as devising an ingenious way to facilitate his contact with Jesus. If there were issues on like, say, falling debris or distraction to the sharing of the Word, the Bible would have commented on them. Note that the grouse of the religious leaders was on the authority of healing and not on distraction or the men's action. One can only visualize how folks who had issues with having a bedridden paralytic healed reacted to the noise of breaking through a roof. I believe that what Jesus found so dramatic was seeing the man being lowered before him. If the act of lowering the man was a distraction, we could have been told; but since it obviously did not interfere with the proceedings that is why the narrative never commented along that line. I am sorry if had sounded brash in the concluding part of my last comment. I am,however, thrilled that you appeared to be getting the point I was making. These days a lot of people are wont to engage in touchy-feely over-spirituality. We are a people of faith but understanding,wisdom and insight should also be our guides.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 23, 2013

Yes, I did get the point you're making. You're the one who doesn't seem to be getting my point, and it is because you continue to read into my comments things that are simply not there. I never said that the "cardinal lesson" of the story in Mark 2 was about distraction. But if you don't think that lowering the paralyzed man from the roof was distracting, simply because the Bible doesn't explicitly say so, I suspect you might not be reading the Bible with enough imagination! So, no, the distraction itself is not the primary purpose of the story. But it WAS distracting. It DID interfere with the proceedings. And the story, while making a separate, larger point, does give us a glimpse into the way that Jesus handled distractions that we would do well to emulate. Like I wrote at first, all throughout the Gospels we see Jesus' reactions to the distractions of everyday life, not just in his preaching. The pattern of these accounts show us that Jesus was never phased by them. He never lost his focus. Some distractions he recognized as coming from Satan and he dealt with them accordingly. Others, he recognized his Father's presence in it, and he adjusted himself to it accordingly. Now, I welcome your continued conversation, as I am enjoying it. But please do me a favor. If you do choose to respond, PLEASE reread what I actually write and be sure you're not assuming things that just aren't there!

Ferdinand C Nnadi

commented on Sep 23, 2013

I believe you can help matters with getting a handle on sweeping generalisations. Please temper your quest to have the final word. You set out to impugn my initial comment on this issue without getting your facts right. It is curious how you try to assume an ascension to a moral high ground of imaginative bible reading or scholarship only when you want to employ same to advance your argument. I am afraid you are contradicting yourself. You said there was nothing to imagine and went forward to give an instance you believe should settle the matter. I was expecting you to come forward with an academic and insightful rejoinder when exegesis on the example you rendered threw up possible interpretations. I do not believe that resorting to self adulation will help our cause in any way here. Just like I said earlier, I don't assume to know it all. It will help to adopt some degree of open-mindedness when discussing certain issues unless we want the Bible to say what it did not. One word on your assertion that I do not read your comments and as such make allusions that do not pertain to you. There is no way you would expect me to be paraphrasing you at any point in time. In polemics, there are such things as connotative and denotative meanings. What I merely do is to draw inferences from your assertion. That is an acceptable norm as discussions/debates go. Expecting to hear from you...

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 23, 2013

I wrote a very long, detailed response to your latest comment that took me almost an hour. And then when I tried to post it, not only did it not post, but the comment was lost completely! I really wish it had been saved, because I really wanted you to read everything I had to say. But the gist of it all was, I'm sorry. I did not mean to offend you, and I take full responsibility for doing so. Please be assured that none of what you inferred from my comments was what I intended to communicate, by any means. I really don't know how to say this briefly without me sounding "superior" or anything like that (which was why my original post was so detailed--I really didn't want any misunderstandings at all!), but you really got me completely wrong. Man, I'm really frustrated that the post was lost, because I went into it point by point, clarifying my intentions and apologizing for the misunderstandings. But please do accept my apology. Communication is a two-way process, and I take full responsibility on my end. I do want to respond to a couple of important points: "You said there was nothing to imagine and went forward to give an instance you believe should settle the matter." No, I never wrote nor implied that the example I gave should settle the matter. You asked me for an instance, and I gave it. That's all. "I was expecting you to come forward with an academic and insightful rejoinder when exegesis on the example you rendered threw up possible interpretations." I'm genuinely sorry that I disappointed you in that. Please know, I am simply a high school English teacher. I've been a Christian my whole life, and I've read the Bible my whole life; so I think I have something valuable to contribute. But if you're expecting anything more academic or technical, I'm sorry to confess that I will disappoint you, for you are way out of my league in that area. Once again, my intention was never to prove you wrong or prove myself right. I did not mean to "impugn," and I certainly meant no offense! I simply offered my own point of view in response to your quote: "imagine what would have been His attitude were children distracting at the Sermon On The Mount and other instances when he was making key faith points." I simply wanted to share that the picture of Jesus I find in the Gospels; the Jesus who was constantly interrupted and was able to see his Father's presence in those interruptions; the Jesus who took the advantage of the distraction of a paralytic being let down from a hole in the roof to use it as a teachable moment; that Jesus just does not strike me as the kind of person who would be too terribly upset by children crying during a worship service. But if you see a different picture of Jesus in the Gospels, that's perfectly fine. I don't consider myself any better for my perspective, nor do I see you as any worse for yours. Being "open-minded" does not mean I have to agree with you, nor that you have to agree with me. It simply means we're willing to consider the issue from another person's perspective for a moment, so that even if I may not ultimately agree with your point, I can honestly say I understand your point. I look forward to your response. Blessings to you, my brother!

Ferdinand C Nnadi

commented on Sep 23, 2013

Let us praise God for the ministry of reconciliation. Just like I have been saying, I do not ascribe infallibility to myself. I also believe you are not beyond making mistakes. I believe you were sincerely trying to make your point. I was also trying to make mine. Our guide should be restraint or moderation so that in due time we would begin to achieve coherence of ideas. It was really unfair for you, though, to allude to your job/qualification and by so doing imply that I was assuming superior authority on the subject. I never said anything on qualification:of course you could be more qualified that I am or vice versa and that would have little bearing on the matter at hand. In any case neither you nor me has any right to run with own individual understanding of the Bible because if we allow the leading of Holy Spirit and acknowledge our humanness, our understanding should not be so different. The underlying problem is that you and me being mortals are so keen to see our respective ways/perceptions prevail whilst the areas of conflict could have diminished immensely if we can learn to forebear a little. The foregoing is tragically responsible for the various shades of understanding and doctrinal differences in christendom. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will continue to recreate and renew our spirits in doing everything to the name and glory of Jesus. Looking forward to be sharing further ideas with you...

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 23, 2013

Before I continue, I apologize in advance for my frustration. A lot of it has to do with the fact that the last couple of times that I've tried to post, it erases everything I've written, and I have to start over again. But part of it is also due to the fact that no matter what I write, you continue to interpret it in the worst possible way. "It was really unfair for you, though, to allude to your job/qualification and by so doing imply that I was assuming superior authority on the subject." I NEVER MEANT THAT! For crying out loud! YOU'RE the one who wrote: "I was expecting you to come forward with an academic and insightful rejoinder when exegesis on the example you rendered threw up possible interpretations." The ONLY reason that I brought up my job is to manage you're expectations of me. I'm not a pastor like most who comment on here. I've never been to seminary. I don't know Greek and Hebrew. And I'm perfectly fine with that. I participate in this forum because as a layman, I assist our pastor in the preaching ministry of our church. And as a lifelong Christian, I feel that I can contribute something valuable to these conversations from a layman's perspective. But if you're expecting something more academic than what I've offered, don't. I wrote what I wrote, and you are welcome to take it for whatever it's worth to you. If you find my perspective helpful to you, wonderful. If you don't, fine. I really don't care! I am assuming no moral superiority over you, nor have I implied that you assume any intellectual superiority over me. So PLEASE get over that. Now, if you'd like to return to the original topic of conversation (how Jesus might treat distractions and interruptions to his preaching), I'd be more than happy to continue. "The underlying problem is that you and me being mortals are so keen to see our respective ways/perceptions prevail whilst the areas of conflict could have diminished immensely if we can learn to forebear a little." No. The underlying problem is that you think there is a conflict to begin with. THERE ISN'T. I just happen to see this issue differently than you. But there's NOTHING to resolve. Go on seeing it from your point of view. It doesn't matter to me! "The foregoing is tragically responsible for the various shades of understanding and doctrinal differences in christendom." This is not a doctrinal difference. It is simply a difference of opinion on an incidental issue. That's it. Nothing more. Look, man, I'm running out of ways to make myself clear to you. I have offered my apology to you for any misunderstanding. Like I wrote, communication is a two-way street; and I have taken full responsibility for my end. I'd suggest you do likewise on your end. The Bible tells us to be at peace with everyone, as far as it is in one's power. I have done that with you to the best of my ability, and I will sleep well tonight. If you think that something I've written is unfair because YOU have made wrong inferences from what I've written, well, there's really nothing more that I can do about that. Don't blame me. So, again, if you want to continue our original conversation, I'll be right here. But anything that you write that has nothing to do with the original conversation, I'll just simply ignore. Have a good night, and may God bless you.

Ferdinand C Nnadi

commented on Sep 25, 2013

My brother God will enable us to bear with one another. I am just seeing your last comments after over 48 hours. I don't believe your tone and assertions pertain to the comments I made. Were those exclamations meant for me? I have got learning points from your contributions and that of others here because I came to learn so as to broaden my perspective. Please I enjoin you to go through my last post once again. I implore you read it with an open mind and not with an undertone of recrimination. You will see the train of my thoughts. I started that posting with a reference to the ministry of reconciliation (2Cor. 5:18). I was praising God for bringing reconciliation between us by allowing the Holy Spirit to soften our earlier truculence. I did hint on good virtues like restraint and moderation making for better considerations in the christian experience. I did make a side reference to the earlier allusion to your job because the manner it was made appeared to suggest that I was acting as if we were not operating on the same footing. I maintained that I was not assuming superior authority. From that point onwards I began to make general statements. As an ordained pastor, I believe in the unity of body of Christ. I was merely saying that dissensions and disagreement will be greatly diminished if we allow the Holy Spirit to do His work on all of us instead of being quick to project disparate viewpoints and perceptions. I never lost sight of the fact that we are in a forum where people are sampling opinions. We are Christians and as such should walk in love. Please let us make peace because the tone of your comment was not charitable. I cherished your contributions and all others here. Expecting to get feedbacks. Remain blessed.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 26, 2013

"I did make a side reference to the earlier allusion to your job because the manner it was made appeared to suggest that I was acting as if we were not operating on the same footing. I maintained that I was not assuming superior authority." And that right there is the problem. It was NOT made to appear to suggest that you were acting as if we were not operating on the same footing. I know that for certain, because I made that comment. My comments may have seemed that way to YOU. But the fact that you were mistaken to infer that from my comments is your fault, not mine. "the tone of your comment was not charitable." You know what, you're right, and I apologize for it. All throughout this conversation I have apologized for any misunderstandings that have come from my end. And these apologies have been sincere, whether you believe it or not. I have slept with a clear conscience every night. Now I'm curious to see if you will apologize on YOUR end. Are you going to apologize for comments that you've made that have not also not been charitable? Are you going to apologize for comments that were quite condescending? Are you going to apologize for constantly inferring things from my comments that I never implied, and responding to me as if I DID imply them, instead of asking me to clarify? And if you don't see yourself as guilty of any of these things...well, maybe you should spend more time and effort worrying about YOUR tone, rather than mine. You see, you can quote 2 Corinthians 5:18 all you want. Quoting a text is easy. It requires no grace. But real reconciliation begins when one is willing to look at one's own faults before judging those of others. THAT is much harder than simply quoting a verse from the Bible. THAT require grace. Perhaps it would be well for you to take the log out of your own eye before trying to take the speck out of mine. The real tragedy here is that we never returned to the original topic of conversation. It's a shame because I think that was a much more interesting topic. Instead, we wasted a whole lot of time on this nonsense. I practically begged you to get back on topic, but appears that topic no longer interests you. You seem much more interested in the "uncharitableness" of my tone. So, farewell, and I wish you the best. P.S. I refer you to the conversation between Edwin Crozier and myself under the article on signs and wonders as an example of two people who may disagree on a topic, but who are not threatened by the disagreement and who can listen to another without deflecting, by imposing an "undertone of recrimination" in the others post. Although not as recent, Dennis Cocks and I have had many conversations in the past on a wide variety of topics in which we disagree, and yet we respect each other and stay on topic and don't use each others comments as a Rorschach test.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 26, 2013

One last comment, because maybe this will get through to you. When you write, "I don't believe your tone and assertions pertain to the comments I made," that is exactly the same way I feel YOUR tone and assertions. Exactly the same way. "I implore you read it with an open mind and not with an undertone of recrimination." All I'm asking is that you do the same for me. Just do me the same favor that you ask of me. That's it. In the end, this all comes down to the golden rule: Please do for me as you would have me do for you. And I will do likewise. Farewell, and I wish you the best.

Thomas Giddens

commented on Sep 22, 2013

Well, the thing is, babies are subject to cry. We all want parents to come to our church, right? To get parents, we must receive the babies. Now in all these comments, I have not seen anything about offering nursery services up front, as they come in. We do this to give the parent a choice to let the child go into the nursery or stay with the parent. Here is where discipleship comes in. As the parents keep coming, we as a LOVING church FAMILY begin to work with these parents, and they will begin to TRUST that we will care for their children. Just like anything else, this is a process, and yes we sometimes must deal with a crying baby, but in the end if we are consistent with our love, we will add them to our family.

Mike O'neal

commented on Sep 22, 2013

There is a lot to be said for those moms who care about others enough to take their children to the nursery but there is also something to be said for preachers who are in that special spiritual zone while preaching to the point that they wouldn't notice if the building caught on fire.

Kevin Brown

commented on Sep 22, 2013

Is it a distraction or a divine intervention? While it is true that church can seem like a production. The chior practices, the program is set and printed, the sermon prepared and scripted. Today we even have video illustrations and multimedia to enhance the experience. Some churches have special lighting and fog machines. I looks like a great deal of planning and effort is put into having church service. No wonder it could be considered disruptive when a baby cries. The planning was for a perfect service when Gods desire is for a service that exemplifies his grace perfectly. Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit can turn a distraction to a divine intervention. Consider the men that broke through the roof of the house when Jesus was preaching or the women caught in adultry or in Pauls ministry when the man fell out of the window. All of these we natural distractions, yet were used for the glory of God. Then there are time when people were silenced. In each case neither the preacher or the distractor were the focus bur the work of God.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 23, 2013

"Is it a distraction or a divine intervention?" I've been reading through all of these comments just waiting to see if someone would point that out! Thank you so much! May God give us eyes to see...

Anonymous

commented on Sep 23, 2013

If you have ever had the honor of preaching at a nursing home you may have had to participate in an interactive sermon where questions and comments are spoken out loud. I never disregard this and find that although it is a challenge to remain on topic and composed, it is a blessing. They are listening and engaged and I always answer. A baby crying in the church is the sound of a future Christian growing up in the church. tk ><>

Tim Secrist

commented on Sep 23, 2013

Charles, I didn't intend to run you off. I simply recognized what I thought was an inconsistency and mentioned it. When you put stuff out here in the blogosphere, you run the risk of getting tagged. It's part of the growing process for me. I certainly don't always get everything right either. I have been tagged on many occasions for many reasons, some legitimate, some not so much. Refusing to comment again is to cheat all the rest of us from your thoughts. You had value in what you said, I just enjoy stirring the pot a little bit. By the time I saw the article, many comments had been made so instead of restating anything, I was attempting to have a little fun at your expense. Please reconsider commenting on further articles, or even this one again. I do hope to hear from you again.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 23, 2013

"When you put stuff out here in the blogosphere, you run the risk of getting tagged." Granted, and I've made similar comments here myself. On the other hand, it is the responsibility of those of us who respond to other people's comments to be responsible for the way in which we write or respond (which, in fact, was Charles' initial point). To his credit, Vaugh acknowledged the harshness unintentionally communicated by his comments and apologized for it. "Refusing to comment again is to cheat all the rest of us from your thoughts." Not really, for none of us are entitled to his thoughts. He offered them to us freely, as each of us do, and perceived from the tone of the responses that his comments were not welcome. If we really desire for someone to share their thoughts with us, perhaps it would be well to be more careful about how we receive those thoughts when given. "You had value in what you said, I just enjoy stirring the pot a little bit." That is your prerogative. And it is Charles' to decide whether conversations with those who enjoy "stirring the pot" is a productive use of his time. He has decided it isn't, and we must respect that.

Tim Secrist

commented on Sep 23, 2013

Bill, It just seems that Charles is a little sensitive. He said that he gave this a try and didn't like it because it didn't work out the first time to his advantage. If I contributed to that, I certainly am sorry about it, as that was not my intentions. I suspect that if Charles is like the rest of us, his first sermon probably didn't go as well as he would have liked, either, but apparently he is still preaching. I agree with you that it is his prerogative not to venture out any more on this or any other site, but by quitting after one attempt he is, in my opinion, taking with him his views that may really help someone. This is a chance for him to grow, anonymously I might add. I still hope he reads this and reconsiders. Also, the problems with blogs is that there is no tone of voice, no facial expressions, no body language, and no eye contact. They are words only, which can easily be misconstrued, as other posts to this article suggest. I respect his decision, I just hope he'll reconsider.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 23, 2013

Perhaps Charles is a little sensitive. But some people are that way, and there is nothing wrong with that. You rightly acknowledged that on the internet "there is no tone of voice, no facial expressions, no body language, and no eye contact." But that means that we should be even MORE careful with how we respond to someone to ensure that there are no misunderstandings. The power of the internet to depersonalize us is much stronger than we realize. "This is a chance for him to grow, anonymously I might add." Perhaps. But this is also a chance for US to reconsider how we interact with each other on this type of forum. If we really do believe that his views may help us, it is OUR responsibility to interact with him in a way that will welcome his views, even if at first glance we may disagree with them. We should have much more humility, much more grace in our interactions. We should be much less quick to jump to conclusions, much less prone to make inferences that the other person may never have intended to imply. We should be much more willing to give others the benefit of the doubt, and be more willing to suspend judgement until the other has been given a fair hearing. Please don't misunderstand me, I'm not saying this to you personally. If I'm speaking about anyone in specific, I'm speaking about myself. Although, to be fair to Charles, he did not write that he didn't like this forum "because it didn't work out the first time to his advantage." What he wrote was that he really liked "talking face to face." Which reminds me, we should be less quick to put words in other people's mouths! Personally, I don't blame Charles, and I'm not so sure he made the wrong decision. In fact, during my conversation below with Ferdinand, the thought often crossed my mind as to whether it might be a good idea to follow his example! For the moment, though, I'm sticking around. And if Charles does decide to return, I hope we will be less concerned about how sensitive HE is, and be more concerned with how welcoming and graceful WE are. Have a good night!

Dennis Cocks

commented on Sep 26, 2013

Just read your conversation with Ferdinand. Conversing on this forum can be challenging at times! : )

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 26, 2013

Ha, yes. Challenging indeed! And like I told him, I certainly didn't make it any easier at times. This kind of forum is not for everyone, and I've seen many come and go. But if you have patience with people and stick it out long enough, eventually some real good conversation can come out of it. You and I are exhibit A! It's good to hear from you. It's been a while. Blessings to you.

Elvis Chinguwa

commented on Sep 23, 2013

I realise three things: 1. Crying babies that are truly a blessing, 2. Distractions that are never wanted in a service but are not avoidable. 3. sermons that are presented. Now on 1 above I think God's blesings must never lead us into sin. A parent with a crying baby must know what to do, at show an effort to control theDISTRACTION. if the parent doesnt act then the preacher, presenter must find a wiser way to deal with the situation (not a rude way), one day I was preaching and a baby started crying and the mother did nothing about it, as I was preaching I moved over to the baby to her in my arms (like afther) and just passed this comment: we have a worshipper in the house," as the people laughed at the joke the baby kept quite and I returned her to the mother continuing with the sermon. I think wisdom is principal rather than REACTION. 2. Blessing must never be a distraction, when a baby cries rather than 'test' the preacher, I think it should be 'attend' to the baby. crying babies are never funny (laughing babies rae) and not good. we must not spiritualise this. 4. the way one presents a sermon is not sterio-type, there are many ways to deliver a message, the whole idea is not to get attention to yoursel, but to the message. avoiding to be part of the delivery utensil can also be fatal. the vessel counts. many a time people miss a message because they are analysing the vessel (the Romans missed Paul's warning because he was a prsoner in bonds and so could not tell them anything -they missed the message until the shupwreck happened. I think we should stop judging the way things are done. Paul say to Timothy: scripture is given for instruction, doctrine REBUKE( which this man of God did)...correction etc. now if one unruly mother with personal issues is allowed to control the flow of the service it becomes an out of scripture thing, that we are now worried with keeping them seated rather than deliver the truth. Get me right I also get peeved by actor pastors or speakers who think they are the main thing. but crying babies are not funny either.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 23, 2013

Just my thoughts as "an ordinary layman" (to quote C. S. Lewis): Life, real life, is filled with distractions and interruptions. Of course, distractions can be taken to an extreme, and we should deal with them appropriately. Nevertheless, any worship that makes no room for any type of distraction, which does not in fact welcome distractions, is a worship that is divorced from real life, and thus is not offered to the God of real life. It is a worship offered to a God of our own making, a God that we can control. For it is the distractions and interruptions of life that remind us that it is God, not us, who is in control!

Joseph William Rhoads

commented on Sep 23, 2013

I pastor a very small church, and when we do have a baby, and he/she is crying, it's quite a distraction. Members are thoughtful (and secure enough) to leave the sanctuary to handle the situation, but parents (especially mothers) who are new can feel singled out, but usually will walk out the sanctuary. At that point, we have designated female members who will walk out with the visiting parent and offer to watch their baby so that they can go back to the service. But what has helped the most, is that every time we have a crying baby, (and especially if a visiting parent looks nervous or embarrassed), I just stop the sermon and tell them that that's what babies do; they cry. God designed them to cry when they are in need. And if there is anyway we can be of help to meet the need of your baby, please let us know.

John Crisp

commented on Sep 23, 2013

in my experience I have said multiple times if a baby starts to cry I will get louder, if it gets louder, then I can get louder, but if it gets too loud I will let them preach it... cute story but for many this is the truth. Just preach and God will work things out the way that he wants them.

Charles Ingwe

commented on Sep 24, 2013

Hi Bill, great hearing you contribute. It has been long, maybe it is I who has been away from sermoncentra. I always treasure your wise approach to this forum. Stay blessed my brother.

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 24, 2013

I appreciate the kind words. My active participation ebbs and flows depending on my current situation; but even when I don't have time to post, I do try to read the articles and at least scan through the comments. Have a blessed day!

Randy Golladay

commented on Sep 24, 2013

"Train a child up in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it". Haven't we all had to learn how to "behave" in church? I am blessed to have 20-30 children sitting in our sanctuary each Sunday. They range in age from a few days to teens. Have they cried and been a distraction at some point? Sure! Have they been a disruption? Rarely. Our church family understands the training takes time. Those first time visitors may be counseled by the parents or grandparents of children in training. It is not uncommon for new attendees to be told that "it can get a little noisy in this section. If you really want to hear you might want to sit over there". In 25 years, I have taken crying children in my arms in the midst of a sermon, given them their bottles, patted their backs. BE THANKFUL! They are the future or your church!

Ric Freeman

commented on Sep 25, 2013

even if it doesn't distract the pastor... it most definitely will distract unchurched, or unsaved people. I have often wondered if the devil himself doesn't on occasion pinch a baby just as an altar call is made.....

Bill Williams

commented on Sep 25, 2013

That's a good point, but there's another way we can look at it. It's important to keep in mind that just as the devil is at work trying to distract the unsaved, God is ALSO at work trying to save them. It is just as possible that it is God who may be allowing a baby to be fussy so that the unsaved may have the privilege of witnessing a Christlike reaction to an everyday distraction. You know, HOW we react to distractions says a lot about one's walk with the Lord. Anyone can complain about a crying baby and whine about being distracted. Anyone can cast disapproving glances and make passive-agressive remarks that humiliate and belittle parents who are likely already stressed out by the crying child to begin with. You don't need to be walking in the Spirit for that. But to take that distraction and, not ignore it, but rather be able to sense God's presence in the distraction and respond to it in a way that showers his healing grace upon the child and the parents--I suspect that may make an even BIGGER impact on the unsaved than any altar call. Seeing the grace of God that has been preached, embodied in real life. Let's not be too quick to blame demonic influence for crying children. Let's be more open to the possibility that God's providence is at work, especially in the distractions of life.

Dr. Luke Kauffman

commented on Mar 16, 2015

I do not worry about babies who cry in church; instead, I worry and pray for the adults who never cry out to God in Church.

Ronald Johnson

commented on Mar 16, 2015

I always tell people we have a nursery only for the sake of parents who might want to be in church for an hour without having to tend to the needs of a baby or toddler. It is not for me, nor for the rest of the church. I find that very few visitors are comfortable leaving their young child in the nursery. Who could blame them? They do not know our nursery workers, nor to they know the process we go through in screening them. I have also found that most parents exercise pretty good judgement in the difference between typical baby noise, and the all out scream that signals something need to be attended to. Babies and children being babies and children do not phase me. I started preaching when my son was less than a year old. It was great training. The trips to the bathroom don't bother me. It usually means that a youngster is getting tired of sitting still. When I was that age, I did not get much from the sermon either. If you don't want children "messing up your service," let everyone know up front that you don't want children in your church.

Don Campbell

commented on Mar 16, 2015

I believe Jesus would say, "Let him/her sit here on my lap and you take a rest" (Matt 19:14).

David Clift

commented on Mar 16, 2015

Wow, just when I thought I'd heard it all! Seriously?! "It?s my belief that if I can?t preach? [with] a crying baby, then I have no business preaching." I couldn?t disagree more. How about the discourteous parent who doesn?t take their crying child out of the service? Not crying? Not a problem. In my 30 years of preaching, I?ve learned to preach in many situations and with a variety of distractions. I?m sure Jeremy lacks the experience to realize that it?s not pastors complaining about babies as much as it is people in the pews complaining about crying babies. We?ve had this issue over the years, and even recently. About 2 months ago an unchurched young couple came to our church and while they loved it, they said that they were so distracted by the crying babies (there were a few that morning) that they decided not to return. Now, as far as I know, they?re not Christians yet, so they?re not as tolerant of that type of situation as we believers should be, but frankly, I think Jeremy missed it on this one.

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