The Things Mom Taught Me About Church

I’m a preacher’s kid, so growing up, I sat on a church pew every time the doors were open (and they were hard wooden things back then.)  Mom was pretty strict about attending church, and I’ve sat through about a million worship services, weddings, funerals, Vacation Bible Schools, Sunday School classes, revivals, youth rallies, and more. 

Along the way, my mom had some pretty tough rules that have mostly fallen out of fashion since those days.  But after a few decades, I’m wondering if they weren’t so bad after all.  Let me know if you think my mom was nuts, or maybe on to something:

1.  Dress Up: My mom felt that church was about honoring God, and looking right was a big part of that honor.  I had a whole collection of clip-on ties, and she made sure I was dressed up before I left the house.  Today, even pastors preach in jeans and t-shirts, and the truth is, I love being casual.  But attorneys and other professions have learned that how you dress impacts your attitude and perception.  As my mom said, it shouldn’t be about pride, it should be about honor.  Looking around the congregation these days, I just wonder if we could use an occasional dose of my mom’s advice.

2.  Pay Attention: I got slapped a lot in church for not paying attention.  Even as kids, my mom wouldn’t let us lay down on the church pew, draw in coloring books, or scribble on paper.  We had to pay attention – which, if you know how easily distracted I am, was like a personal nightmare.  But looking back, it taught me discipline, and a remarkable amount of Bible teaching.

3.  Send the Babies to the Nursery: Back in those days we didn’t have “Children’s Church.”  All we had was a nursery for the babies, and my mom thought they should go.  To her, there was nothing more rude than parents allowing a screaming baby to interrupt the worship of the congregation.  She knew babies weren’t getting anything out of the sermon, so get them out where they could have a little fun!  Please, leave us to worship in peace and quiet.  I thought about my mom last Sunday, sitting behind a young couple with a screaming baby who just sat there, and sat there, and sat there.  (You know the kind of parents that can’t POSSIBLY leave their children with anyone else?).  What did the pastor preach about?  I can’t remember….

4.  If You Show up Late, Sit in the Back: Mom thought church wasn’t the same as a movie, concert, or classroom.  It was Holy, and we need to respect that.  Although 99% of the time, our family sat on the front row, if we showed up late for any reason, we sat in the back.  She would never distract anyone from my dad’s message by walking down the aisle after the service had started.  By the way – I hope the lady who came in last week during our time of quiet reflection and walked to the front row apparently wearing tap shoes is reading this…

5.  Bring Your Bible: My mom’s motto was “Buy a Bible, read it, and underline it.”  She never understood how people could come to church without their Bible.  To her it was like showing up at a baseball game without a bat.  I’ve tried the “pew Bible” and Bible apps on my iPad, but for me, I can’t get my mom’s rule out of my head, so I bring the real thing – marked up and all.

6.  Sunday School Matters: Remarkably few churches have Sunday School programs anymore, and I’m often surprised at the number of church members who think a weekly sermon is enough.  Mom felt that we needed to go deeper, and Sunday School was that place.  Obviously, that was before many churches started to encourage small groups – although most small groups I’ve attended are more about “reflection,” “what’s new in my life,” and “sharing.”
My mom would probably puke.

At the time, I thought I’d been switched at birth and my mom was a evil witch, but now, I’m starting to see she might have been pretty smart.

Crazy?  Smart?  Or something in-between?

P. Cooke

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

One thought on “The Things Mom Taught Me About Church

  1. I agree with a few of these! 1. Come as you are, Pharisees were known to dress up, but it was more about being religious then truly serving God with their heart. This is why the bible says, God looks at the heart not our appearance. Bible also tells us that only Faith pleases Him.

    2. Come to learn but I don’t expect a child with limited attention span to stay focus. We must be like Paul and come to children at their level.

    3. I a mom to 8 and God specifically tells us to not turn away children. Such is the Kingdom of God! instead of people staring and shunning, maybe people needed to be more Christ like and ask the parent to hold their child so they can sit through a service. God is more concerned on how we treat people. Love walk.

    4.Should we be on time for Church yes, but life happens! Instead of churches making someone sit in the back, know that the church building is a place for the gathering of the saints! A place to be encouraged, prayed for, and lifted up. it’s not about a church building, its about God’s people and reaching the unsaved. I can’t imagine Jesus sitting someone in the back who came to hear him preach.

    5. Agree!! You can’t live without this word, bring it, read it and live it!
    5. Agree! Best place to learn about Jesus!

    Love God, Love People, draw people closer to God


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