Church Etiquette For Youth, Part 1

In this day and age, churches overall have become more casual. That being said, this post may be slightly skewed, as I truly enjoy the formality and ceremonial part of a church service. My apologies in advance if this doesn’t apply to you. Also, this will be from a Christian point of view. If visiting a synagogue or attending any other religious service not affiliated with Christianity, the etiquette tips mentioned may or may not apply.

Now that the disclaimer is done, this post will focus primarily on church etiquette for youth. The underlying tone is about respect of a place of a worship.

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There are a few rules that are universal for both adults and youth.

  1. No hats inside of the building (sanctuary, nave, etc.) unless on a female. The hat must not be for practical purposes (baseball cap) if it is left on, and it must not block another person’s view.
  2. Electronic devices should be muted during the worship service.
  3. A person may elect to not participate in any part of the worship service that conflicts with their personal beliefs. By this I mean if you are visiting another church, and you do not wish to partake in Holy Communion, you do not have to. However, you do not have the right to interfere with the integrity of an event.

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For children, the old adage of “they are meant to be seen and not heard” is quite antiquated. There is, for Christians, one God. Not one for youth and one for adults. If a baby is crying nonstop, it is best for the parents or guardian to take the baby outside until he/she has calmed down. However, it is ok for coos or noise to be made. Also, it’s ok for the parent to quietly explain to his or her child what is taking place during the worship service. It’s how they learn.

Overall, children should remain in the pew. I’m a believer that kids should be in the sanctuary, but that is a personal choice, not an etiquette choice. That being said, it is perfectly fine if they stand, provided they aren’t blocking anyone’s view. Especially for young toddlers, a worship service is a long time to not be active. Alternative activities could be coloring, drawing, etc. I know some parents and grandparents may wonder if the reason they are taking kids to church is still applicable if the kids are just coloring. My answer? Yes. I know adults that will appear to listen in church and are really just thinking about football, and I know adults who draw the whole time because their mind goes a millions miles a minute. The same is true for kids.

I feel that kids should be respectfully dressed. The interpretation is up to the parents. However, as a few guidelines, nothings vulgar, nothing obscene, nothing excessively revealing. Also, keep is appropriate for the particular church you attend. Some churches are more casual. Some are more formal.

Children should be incorporated into the service, not excluded from it, to the extent that is appropriate for that denomination. I’m a United Methodist. For us, it is the parents’ decision on when a child receives communion. For other denominations, it is age-based. We allow both of our children to receive communion when we do; however, it would be inappropriate for us to do so at a church of another denomination.

Finally, it is appropriate for young kids and babies to be allowed to eat/drink in the sanctuary, provided they use spill-proof bottles and/or cups, unless noted otherwise. Likewise, it is perfectly fine for a mother to nurse her child in the sanctuary. Hungry babies simply don’t wait. I know some of these etiquette guidelines may be a little different than you expected. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Also, check back for Part 2: Etiquette for Older Youth.

Respect at Funerals

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I had nearly had this post written last night when my phone crashed. I was too emotionally spent to re-write it at that time, so it’s a day later than I had hoped for.

Yesterday was a hard day for me. I had the privilege of remembering a man’s life who was kind, beyond generous, caring, easy going, enjoyed copious amounts of coffee, hated blood, loved and respected the Lord, loved his family, friends and students who all equally loved him as much. We are all better off for having known Coach Perry Evans.

In truth, he was my first crush. (Yes, Garrett knows 😉 ) Though I had learned to tie my shoe at around 2 1/2, in Kindergarten I would purposefully untie them during gym so Coach Evans would tie them back. The fact he did it over and over and over only begins to show his willingness to do anything for others. He was a man of great character. Never were there kids who remained hungry, shoeless or unloved on his watch. The stories of him purchasing, with his own money, shoes for kids to play sports, food for kids to eat or giving them “jobs” to build their self-worth are nearly infinite.

The difference he made in the lives of others was apparent yesterday during his funeral service, as the attendees overflowed into the stands of the Sulphur Bluff gymnasium. So, in Coach Evans’s memory, I dedicate this post on funeral etiquette to his family.

  • As an attendee at a funeral, when the family enters, you should stand as you are able. Please remaining standing until the last family member is seated.
  • Silence (don’t just set to vibrate) all electronic devices. This goes for all one-time events (weddings, funerals, etc.).
  • At the end when saying your final good-bye to the deceased, it is ok to hug or acknowledge the family. However, this is not a requirement. People mourn in different ways, and that ok.
  • After the funeral, if you are going to the burial, make sure to turn on your lights so approaching cars know to pull over.
  • On that note, , pull over until the last car has passed.
  • The family will continue mourning past the first few initial days. I would suggest waiting until a couple of days have passed before bringing food unless you are a very close friend or extended family member. On a personal note, my mother-in-law really appreciated a gift of toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates, plastic cups, etc. when my father-in-law passed away. As odd as this may seem, she didn’t want to have to deal with the issues of everyday life. This allowed her to stay home instead of running out for toilet paper.
  • If you would like to make a memorial donation, reach out to someone who is close to the family to ask for suggestions. However, if you know of something you feel would be appropriate, that is ok, too.
  • As always, a note of remembrance written to the family is appropriate.

Thank you for reading, as somber as this post is. If you have any memories of Coach Evans you would like to share, please feel free to do so.