Discipline Q & A: Foul Language

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[Q]: We have a child in our ministry who uses foul
language. We’re wondering if we should tell her she can’t come to
church if she continues. Help!

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[A]: No child should be allowed to ruin church for
others.
There’s a time when you must finally invite a
child not to return. This, however, should be the extremely rare
exception. (We’ve had to do this only two or three times in more
than 20 years of ministry to children.) Ensure that you’ve
exhausted all other disciplinary possibilities before excluding the
child.

Try talking with the child first. We can’t assume that children
know how to behave according to our standards. Explain how our
words can sometimes offend others and God. Tell her specifically
which words she isn’t to use. Some children hear their own parents
use foul language and have no other way of knowing that these words
are objectionable.

If the child agrees to avoid the foul language, remember to be
patient as she tries to learn new behavior patterns and unlearn old
habits. Be ready to forgive and teach her to ask God for
forgiveness.

Encourage every effort honestly made.

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If she doesn’t respond, it may be time to consult with her
parents. In a personal meeting, explain to the parents that you
need help in suggesting to her that she not use the foul language.
Ask the parents for suggestions to handle the situation.

Pray for this child regularly. Foul language is a sure sign that
something’s wrong in the child’s life. It could be a small problem
or a huge one, but either way the child needs God’s intercession in
her life.


Gordon and Becki West are co-authors of The Discipline Guide
for Children’s Ministry (Group Publishing) and founders of KidZ at
Heart, International (www.kidzatheart.org). Please keep in mind
that phone numbers, addresses, and prices are subject to
change.

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1 Comment

  1. In our ministry also (Sunday school, Bible clubs, camp) we also have had to “ban” one child or another (and rarely) from the meetings due to exceedingly bad and disruptive behavior in a child that refused correction. However, the “ban” only lasted one week, and we always talk to the parent to explain that the child must miss the next meeting, and why. So far, the parent was able to correct the child successfully. We did have one child who was basically unsupervised and thus remained a problem. However, we allowed this child to continue to come to the Bible club (which is outdoors and has a more flexible seating arrangement for the lesson–thus she could be taken out of the group if necessary) though not the Sunday school (which is in a confined area). So I agree, removing a child is the last choice, but not to sacrifice the group for one unusually naughty child. All the children, perhaps especially the naughtier ones, need the Lord Jesus.

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