A Child’s Perspective
What church looks like when you’re only three feet tall [Main Story]
BY KAREN HOLFORD
came to your church today. I don’t suppose you noticed me—at least not at first. I came with my grandma. The man at the door was really nice to her, but he didn’t even look at me. Grandma took me to my Sabbath school room. It was pretty there. The teacher was kind, and we sang some songs. But my chair was too big for me, and I couldn’t reach the floor. My legs dangled, and I couldn’t keep them still. Once they twitched and touched another child. I was told not to kick her, but I wasn’t kicking.
When it was time to pray I knelt on the floor. The carpet was all scratchy, and I hurt my knee on it when I tried to get up. I cried, but no one hugged me.
All the other children got a sticker because they said their memory verse. But my mommy doesn’t do my lesson with me. Grandma reads it to me in the bus on the way to church, but I couldn’t remember all the words. So I didn’t get a sticker. I was sad about that.
After Sabbath school I went to the restroom. I tried to wash my hands, but I couldn’t reach the sink or the soap or the towels. I splashed some water on the floor by accident, and a lady yelled at me for making a mess. I couldn’t find Grandma to help me. I was lost among the grown-ups, and all I could see were their handbags and legs. It was so crowded in the corridor that I crawled under a table and hid to feel safe, but someone found me and got mad at me for playing games in church. I finally found Grandma in the kitchen. She was putting food into the oven.
When we went into the big worship room, the only place to sit was right near the front. I’m not used to sitting still. I go to day care, and the longest we ever sit is just for a few minutes during story time. I don’t mind sitting because the teacher shows us lovely pictures. But in church I don’t understand anything. I don’t know any of the songs. When it was time to sing, I just sang “Twinkle, twinkle little star,” because that’s the only song I know, and I’m sure Jesus likes it because He made the stars anyway. Grandma smiled at me, but the man sitting in front of us told me to be quiet. I don’t suppose little children are meant to sing in church, because church is just for the big people.
Then it was time for the children to have a story. A doctor person told us how bad it is to smoke and how it makes you sick and die. My daddy smokes at home—lots. Maybe he’ll get sick and die. I got scared and began to cry. This time a strange lady picked me up and took me outside, and she got cross with me too. I don’t understand why grown-ups are so angry in church. Grandma came to find me. She gave me a big hug. I tried to be quiet; I just couldn’t help crying because I want my daddy to be safe.
Then a man spoke for ages and ages. He yelled sometimes and made me jump. I couldn’t understand any of it. He talked about death and blood, and people said “Amen” very loudly.
So I decided to shout “Amen!” too. Perhaps it’s not allowed for children to say “Amen,” because when I said it some people laughed, and the man in front of us turned around and stared at me. But Grandma shook her head at him and put her arm around me.
I was glad when it was all over, because I could run around outside with the other children. I wondered why anyone takes children to church. I wondered whether the grown-ups really want children to be there, because it was only my grandma who wanted me. Everyone else was cross with me. Someone said “Happy Sabbath!” to me, but I didn’t really think it was. Not for me; not for children.
Grandma wants me to be happy in church. She says we will try a different church next week. Maybe it’ll be your church. I wonder what it will be like. I want to come to church and learn about Jesus. Grandma tells me that Jesus loves little children, that when He lived on earth He told them stories and hugged them and played games with them. She said that Jesus liked to hear the children sing out loud and say “Amen.” But maybe not everyone in this church knows that Jesus likes children so much.
I wonder how you treat children in your church. I wonder if you have a church that likes children and tells them stories they can understand, and sings songs that children sing, and lets children do things to help, and gives them happy things to do. I wonder if it has comfortable seats and interesting things to look at. And I wonder if the grown-ups are always cross.
Because if I don’t feel happy there, I don’t think I’ll go to church again. I’ll just stay home with my dad and watch football.