Something really bothers me when I hear a church member scoff at a young person and say, “they just don’t know how to behave in church.” In my opinion, this statement is wrong on several levels:

1)   What in the world does “In Church” mean anyway? Remember, the church is people –not buildings and services (Acts 14:27). Maybe what they mean to say is “in the church building” –which brings up another problem:

2)   Where did they find a manual outlining such standards? The last time I checked, the Bible doesn’t deal with issues such as what to wear, whether or not to run, or what to bring when entering a building being utilized for the church gatherings –sound more like the Pharisee’s rules (Matthew 23:4)! When people say “they don’t know how to behave,” they really mean “they don’t know the traditions and norms that we have accepted in our particular culture.” Of course the irony is, most church members have no idea why they hold to those traditions and norm anyway –which means that:

3)   They are really the uneducated ones in the equation. What do you think is more ridiculous: To be an unbeliever who acts like an unbeliever because they are being true to their natural desires; or to be a believer who tries to enforce shallow rules they don’t understand upon other people? We really have a habit of letting the insignificant distract us from the significant (Matthew 23:23)!

In my opinion, when we see rowdy young people attending our church gatherings, we have a choice between two attitudes:

The wrong attitude (stated accurately) says, “Those kids just don’t fit in here. Either they need to adhere to the traditions that we adhere to blindly, or leave.”

The right attitude states, “Praise God for opportunities to minister to the hearts of sinners such as myself! These are just the kind of people we’ve been looking for!”

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not promoting a total disregard of chaos and disrespect. I’m just saying that we’ve got to take off our legalistic lenses and see what truly matters. I’m sure folks like the Samaritan woman (John 4:1-45), the Garasene demoniac (Mark 5:1-20), and Mary Magdalene (Luke 8:2) are glad Jesus looked past their discrepancies to speak to their hearts. And to be honest, I am too.

In the words of Jesus, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14) According the Christ, its not the kids who need to learn to behave in church. Instead, its those who would push them away who need to learn to behave!