Lobby Babies. I know you’ve seen them.
They’re not alone, of course. Mom or dad is with them, or maybe grandma or grandpa.
But every week, without fail, they are out there. Babbling away in their mom’s arms; or learning to crawl as dad chases them across the carpet.
Whatever they are doing, it is not appropriate for the Worship Center. They became a distraction. Pastor John is a pretty solid preacher, but he struggles to connect with the young ones. Especially the really young ones. The language barrier is a bit of an issue, it seems.
And so, when the crying commences, or the incredibly-cute-but-oh-so-distracting-babbling kicks into high gear, mom or dad bites the bullet, and they retreat to the lobby (but not without six hundred eyes simultaneously turning and following them…all…the…way…out…the…door).
I think we can learn something from Lobby Babies. Especially the old faithfuls—those Lobby Babies who make an appearance nearly every week. Mom basically never gets to “go to church”, or “attend the service”.
And here is where the lesson is: maybe there is more to church than just “attending the service”.
I mean, have you ever wondered, “why doesn’t the mom of Lobby Baby #37 just stay home? Or watch online? Not like she’s getting anything accomplished here. She doesn’t even get to hear the sermon!”
I know I’ve wondered that.
But then, I must remind myself of a key truth.
Church is not an event.
Church is not an experience.
Church is not a building.
Church is a people.
The more I’ve thought about this, the more I’ve come to appreciate Lobby Babies, and the moms and dads who faithfully bring them week after week. Lobby Babies remind us that the most important element of church is the people, and being present with them.
If you come to church, but miss the worship service, you have not failed to attend church. Quite the opposite, in fact. You have proven that the church is more than just a worship service. You have refused the consumer-minded mentality that attending church is about being entertained, or getting what you want out of the service. You have chosen to be present physically and relationally, even as you miss out on the more relaxing, enjoyable, and encouraging aspects of attending church on Sunday.
So thank you, moms and dads of Lobby Babies. We appreciate you, and we need you. Please continue to be present with us.
And for the rest of us, next time you walk out into the lobby, make sure to stop and say hello to the Lobby Babies. You can feel free to do so, knowing that you aren’t “missing church” in the process. The church is right in front of you, wrapped in her mother’s arms.