Church was a little odd tonight.
First, our pastor (who also happens to be my brother) decided to have a prayer night instead of us having a sermon. This constituted us discussing praise, confessions, thanks, etc and praying for each with a few prayerful songs in between. Now this would have gone a lot better if it wasn't for the family of visitors we had.
It was obvious within the first 5 minutes that they had never been to church, or at least the 3 young kids had never been to church. The three youngest kids were all sitting by themselves in the row in front of the parents. The 4-5 yr-old girl was talking out loud the whole time and no one made her stop for the longest time. Finally, she told her mom to "shut up" right during a silent prayer. This is when her dad took her out of the sanctuary, kicking and screaming (literally kicking and screaming). You could hear her screaming the whole time they were gone. We were hoping she was going to the nursery, but in no time she came back into the sanctuary all proud as punch. My guess is she gave her dad the slip and he just gave up and let her go. He followed her back into the sanctuary, and the little girl still wasn't made to sit with the parents.
At one point, the pastor was asking the congregation for things they were thankful for and the oldest girl (9-10 yrs?) raised her hand. Now her brother (8-9 yrs) had already been giving a lot of reasons why God was great earlier, so my brother calls on the girl thinking she had something to be thankful for. She asked if she could use the bathroom. I'll give it to my brother, he handled it well...just told her yes and then told her where it was. You could hear some chuckles throughout the congregation.
The little girl continued to cause problems throughout the service. Toward the end the little girl and the boy were all over the place...in the aisles next to them and never sitting down. In fact, the pastor had to ask the congregation to look at him while he was trying to tie up the service. It was pretty bad.
I felt bad that I was lacking the patience needed to deal with these people. I prayed both for patience and for the family. I know the parents had to be embarrassed (obviously not embarrassed enough to take the kids out like a normal person would, but still). I found it really hard to get much out of the service, which was unfortunate. They were sitting right in front of us though...
In the end, the mom went up to my brother and asked for assistance. Of course they did. Come to find out, they had called and wanted a ride to church because they didn't have a car. I think they sent the church van after them; they were staying at the local dump motel. Now, our church doesn't hand out money. They are a part of a ministerial alliance with other churches in town. People have to go to the ministerial alliance to get assistance. This way people can't go from one church to another getting money from all the churches in town. It's really a good set up. My brother did end up giving them some dear meat out of his freezer. He said if they were really hungry they would eat it and if not, they could just throw it away. I doubt they eat it. They are from California and probably think venison is nasty.
Let me know what you think about all this.