Church Etiquette For Youth, Part 2

I hope the first part in the series wasn’t too off base for you. This part may not be what you’re expecting, either.

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We, as adults, have an obligation for setting standards for our youth. At an age that is appropriate for the denomination, older youth should have ways to help the church, whether that is being part of the choir, an acolyte, an usher or whatever job is age appropriate. With proper adult guidance, these youth will become the active part of the church. Without them, the church is literally dying.

Kids are much more capable than we often give them credit for. Unless it is against the rules of a particular church, it is proper etiquette for adult church leaders to offer roles to youth. It is important to get parental approval first, though.

Adults, give the same respect to a child participating in a worship service as you would give another adult. If an acolyte is walking down the aisle, don’t cut them off to rush out, unless it is truly an emergency. There is a sacredness to each act, and if we want our youth to respect it, we should, too.

Adults and older youth – if you see a parent with his or her hands’ full, please open the door for them.

Adults – please do not touch young babies without the parent’s permission. If you are sick, wait until you are well.

Now we’re about to get into some grayer area.

As mentioned in a previous post, kids should be dressed respectfully. If they are not walking, though, there is no need for shoes other than parents’ choice. If an outfit is extremely uncomfortable for a child, please don’t dress them in it. It is unlikely they will be still, and they will probably try to escape out of it.

Parents, it is your responsibility to only take your children to worship services when they are well. Just like babies are susceptible to illnesses, the elderly are, as well.

I hope these two posts will help adults and children have more grace and respect for each other. Life isn’t a Pinterest board, and things will not be perfect all of the time. However, through etiquette, we can feel more comfortable in knowing what expectations are set for us.

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Thank you for reading!

 

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.

The sorority side of things.

Most of my favorite college memories (aside from meeting my husband) involved Kappa Delta, the sorority I joined. There were strict rules on how to act when in public, most I think everyone could benefit from. Some example of the rules we had are: no wet hair in public, no pajama pants in public, etc. The vast majormakeupity of these rules stemmed from respect – respect for yourself and for others. To this day, I try to have a little make up on when I leave the house. It’s truly not vanity. It’s a way of telling others they’re worth making an effort for.

The town I live in has a farmer’s market each Saturday morning. As it’s outside, it’s clearly a casual affair. However, I’ve made a more conscious effort at being pulled together while still casual. I wore slingback flats, a soft, black fitted t-shirt that said, “Momma” and a gray and white striped skirt. This skirt is cotton and in no way, shape or form a formal skirt. Still, it was amazing how much more compete I looked (and felt) in this outfit instead of a t-shirt and shorts. In fact, I could not tell you the number of compliments I received that day. Several women asked where the skirt was from and mentioned missing women dressing up, even on a Saturday.

Now, I work outside of the home and many Saturdays I would love nothing more than lying on the couch in my jammies. However, when I leave the house, a skirt, for me, takes the same amount of time as pajama pants, something I really wish people would only wear inside the house…

Here’s to expanding the definition of “etiquette.”