Promoting Reverence by Making Sacrament Meeting Child-friendly
There is currently a churchwide campaign to improve Sabbath Day observance. While Sacrament meeting is only part of the Sabbath day, many local congregations are focusing on Sacrament Meeting reverence.
I am pleased that Church leaders have been addressing this issue by not only encouraging members to adopt better personal behavior, but also by looking at policy solutions, such as moving Sacrament Meeting planning from the all-male bishopric to the Ward Council, a larger group that includes women.
I have some more policy ideas. I am a mother of four Primary-aged children and motherhood is my single greatest barrier to Sacrament Meeting reverence. Some elderly members of my congregation have helpfully informed me that their children were much better behaved than mine are. I suspect that these people have either forgotten what it is like to hush a whole rowful of children through a long meeting that is not age-appropriate for them, or that they raised their children back when naughty children used to get whippings. I think my children might be quiet if I threatened them with a whip, but I am not going to do that (even if I actually do want to whip them by the time Sacrament Meeting is over). What if we tried some of these strategies instead?
• Consider offering Primary and Nursery during Sacrament meeting. Of course, the downside to this solution is that some adults would need to miss the meeting to attend to the children.
• Shorten Sacrament Meeting. It would be easier to keep children satisfied for a meeting that is 30-45 minutes long, instead of over an hour long.
• Have Bishopric members sit with their families so they can help their wives care for children during the meeting.
• Allow multimedia presentations and visual aids during Sacrament Meeting. Many chapels are already equipped with movie screens and projectors. The church already offers quality videos, music and images at lds.org, but current policy limits their use to class time, not Sacrament Meeting.
• Allow music to play during the passing of the Sacrament.
• Allow a wider variety of musical instruments and musical styles, including upbeat numbers people can clap along to. Quieter is not necessarily more reverent.
Many of these suggestions would not only make Sacrament Meeting more entertaining for children but for their parents as well. Of course, feeling entertained is not the same as feeling reverent, but boredom is not reverence either. Better engaging children and adults might facilitate an atmosphere where reverence is more likely and temper tantrums less so.