In Defense of Noises Perpetrated by the Youngest Members of the Congregation

By: Michael Bowser

When I moved to Chattanooga for college, I attended a church that had a high percentage of young children. It also had hard wood floors, wooden pews, hard walls, and big glass windows. All of that together made it loud . . . really loud. Every sound was amplified. And with lots of kids came constant sounds of Bibles or pens or feet hitting the floor, and sounds of kids whispering—you know, the voice kids use that is maybe technically a whisper but can be heard outside in a thunderstorm without much difficulty.

The Distraction Trap

Honestly, at first the noises were pretty distracting—definitely different from those of the church I grew up in with only a few kids, and massively different from sounds in the college classrooms where I spent much of my time. If I’m honest, in the beginning I didn’t like the atmosphere at that college church very much. But I loved the people and the pastor, so I kept going. And as I kept attending that church with all the kids, a few things happened.

First, I started not to notice the noise and the other distractions as much. I began to tune out those sounds, and they became just a part of the background. Not only did I get used to the noise, I actually started to appreciate it. I don’t mean that I wanted the church to be noisy with things constantly hitting the floor. But I started to understand the church was noisy because the church was a family. I began to realize that the noises in church were coming from my little brothers and sisters—brothers and sisters who were learning from me and others in the service how to worship our great God. The children were learning the songs and the Scripture and the prayers that we said. They were hearing of God’s faithfulness to His people, those who had lived so many years before who had passed on the faith to those who followed after, eventually reaching me and the little children beside me.

When Distraction Becomes A Joyful Noise

This realization drew my focus away from myself. For the faith that had been given to me made me part of a much bigger family. I knew this truth in the abstract and maybe in a few concrete ways, but my understanding of the span of God’s family grew because of the children around me. Their noises became reminders of God’s faithfulness. For God didn’t save just me, he didn’t save just a collection of individuals, he saved a family. I, of all people, who had grown up in the church my whole life, whose dad has been an elder for as long as I can remember, who can’t remember a time when I didn’t trust in Jesus, should have known this. I should have already appreciated how God keeps His promises and how He saves His covenant children. But somehow it didn’t sink in until I heard children making noise in that small, college church.

The Loud And The Soft Of It

So here I am at Redeemer, a church again with a lot of kids. Thankfully we have carpeting and padded chairs (so much better than the pews in college), but sometimes kids (and adults, if we’re honest) make noise during worship. We have papers rustling and crayons dropping. To my great enjoyment but possibly not to everyone’s, we have kids belting out the hymns and worship songs at full volume. And we have occasional “whispers” heard across the room.

Yes, sometimes on Sunday morning there will be more noise than you and I like, and sometimes we will get distracted. But that is part of being a family. And the blessing of having little siblings in Christ far outweighs any annoyance. I hope like me you can learn to love the noisy reminders that the Kingdom is for all ages and that even a child can understand the Gospel and trust in God. Let’s remember that these young brothers and sisters are beginning their stories of faith by worshipping our great God with us at Redeemer and pray together that our children grow in their faith and trust in God through worshipping with us.

The Sound Of Grace

For God’s grace extends to all of us, adults and children alike, and unites us into a global, millennia-spanning family. We have the privilege to worship with a small part of that universal family every Sunday. The noises of the family gathering together remind me that God’s family is an amazing blessing. And the noises point me to our faithful, covenant-keeping God who has planned our redemption in Christ since before the foundation of the world. And it reminds me that one day I will meet the rest of the family. But in the meantime, I can’t wait to see our younger siblings grow up and in turn pass on the faith to the ones who follow after them. Until Jesus comes, may there always be children in church to drop pencils and Bibles to help remind the rest of us that we have been adopted into a glorious, loving, eternal family of God.