Children in “Adult” Worship

by Cindy on January 5, 2012

We joined a large church last year that has three different worship services, two of which offer children’s ministry (aka “babysitting”) at the same time as corporate worship and preaching. Adults sing, take communion, hold baptisms, and listen to preaching while the kids do Sunday School–or whatever the trendy name for it is these days. Even though our church isn’t technically segregated by age, the complete lack of whimpering or whining during our services (except for a few holdouts like our own family) tells a different story. We are not family integrated. Not by a longshot.

Where we are now, it seems, most people don’t see the point in having kids around for sermons and worship. I sometimes wonder if we should keep looking for a different place to attend church, but God seems to have led us where we are, for at least a time, and I’m reluctant to walk away from such a wonderful community over one issue (or even a couple of issues).

“Family integration” is a hot topic in some evangelical circles, and I’ve struggled quite a bit with it myself recently. I’ve never attended a church where most of the children were separated from most of the adults for the entire service before, so it’s thrown me for a loop. I miss our home church, where it was assumed that worship was for everybody, all at once. There was always someone ready to take a fussy baby off your hands for minute, and the preacher just reprimanded the bigger kids himself if things got too noisy. Never did anyone take the shuffling and distraction to mean the kids didn’t belong there.

I’m not saying there’s never a need for a mom or dad to take a child out of the sanctuary to be nursed (or spanked), but the idea that they shouldn’t be brought in in the first place is a strange one–and actually a new concept within the Church. Until this generation, it never seems to have occurred to Christians that children aren’t complete spiritual beings in need of corporate worship just like the rest of us, or that they might be spiritually able to participate in things that are intellectually beyond them.

The reason most often given for separating the little ones from their families during worship is that “they need to learn at their own level”.

Children emphatically do not need to be taught about Christ “at their level”. In fact, I think children need us to go over their heads. It gives them something to grow into. Understanding doesn’t grow through spoon-feeding and condescension. It grows through exposure to difficult concepts. One of the most important things I’ve learned while teaching my own children is that if you don’t teach “over their heads”, growth takes longer, and sometimes doesn’t happen at all. I frequently read to my children from the difficult-to-understand translations of the Bible. Our read-aloud books are above their heads sometimes, but they still learn, as evidenced by their ability to retain information that I myself skip right past at times.

I credit long sermons on difficult topics for most of my academic “giftedness”, as the teachers liked to call it. I wasn’t any smarter than most. I was just exposed to a greater depth of thinking and more difficult literature, especially during church services. I spent much of my childhood listening to things that were “over my head” and that little ones shouldn’t be “allowed” to hear.

It was in those services that were supposedly so difficult for my little brain to comprehend that I learned the hymns that comfort me in my afflictions now. It was in those services that I  ”couldn’t understand” that I found out that Jesus was not just a comfortable friend, but a Redeemer and a Savior, and a Sufferer who bled and died for me. I don’t know about most people, but I can’t remember a single Sunday school class where it was really brought home to me how little I deserved such treatment from God Himself. It took grown-up preaching to do that.

I recall one sermon during which the preacher said some truly shocking things while describing the crucifixion—things that many would consider to be completely unfit for children to hear. But hearing this sort of thing could only be harmful if it weren’t true. Jesus’ humiliation and suffering happened, and it happened through our fault, and for our sakes. But many would have us wait until children are not children anymore to have their hearts pierced with that knowledge. By the time a child is “ready” for such harsh thoughts, it’s often too late.

Sunday school was fun, but it was passionate preaching that buried the seed of the Word in my heart. Stories about Jesus are just stories until you’ve seen the tears stream down your neighbor’s face in recounting, week after precious week, what the Savior has done for him. The voices of preachers and worshipers may not have seemed to be doing much for me while I rested my uncomprehending head on my mother’s lap and dozed between songs and testimonies, but now that I’m grown, they’re the voices of home. Now, this is where I instinctively go for comfort—to worship. If we want our children to grow up to come home to the Lord, we need them to feel at home with adults in the Lord.

What think you? Do you feel like you “bother” people with your children during worship services? Does your church encourage you to bring your children?

 

{ 38 comments }

Aycee January 5, 2012 at 5:43 pm

I agree that children should be in church with their parents.
I also feel that my children are at times a disturbance in services at our small church, and I spend quite a bit of time in another room with the baby.
Our church does encourage attendance of children. However, I do feel that in our particular situation there is a lack of understanding about children from older folks.

Cindy January 5, 2012 at 6:23 pm

Well, we have to make some allowances for old folks. They get cranky. It’s the hearing aids. ;-P

Tammy January 5, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Our daughter is now 15, but when she was little she always sat in church with us.

I don’t have a problem with small or young children in church services, IF the parents have them there to learn and be a part of worship. Unfortunately that is not the case in most situations. Toys, snacks and books unrelated to lending a hand to worship are usually brought by the bagful, and yes if ‘that’ family is sitting beside, in front or behind me – I AM distracted and find it difficult to worship.

On the other hand if children are engaged in the service, singing, praying, following in a Bible or Bible book, drawing or coloring what the pastor is preaching on, asking questions (even if a little too loudly) about the sermon and/or moving about (because heh we all get sore sitting on a chair or bench for 45+ minutes even if it is comfy), THAT I don’t have any issues with.

Our church runs two services – each has nursery care available for children up to two years of age (in the second service they have a Bible lesson during that service in the nursery so it isn’t ‘just’ babysitting). And they have children’s church for ages 3 & 4, but the kids join the singing worship time with their parents and then leave after that.

Mrs. E January 9, 2012 at 9:10 am

Currently our church does not have the space to provide a nursery, so I’m one of those parents whose kids have snacks and toys. They are too young to follow the sermon, read a Bible, and we do not have coloring pages that pertain to the sermon. I’d say if it bothers you that some parents’ kids have these things, then sit towards the front and try to be less judgmental.

Sonita Lewis
Twitter: therubynotebook
January 5, 2012 at 6:28 pm

I’ve been searching for a home church (as in church in a home-not and institution) or at the least a ‘family integrated’ church for about a year.

We haven’t had a home church in over 7 years now. I miss some aspects but some I’m just fine without (politics, fighting over the color of new carpet, etc)

Hubby and I talked before we left our home church, we both very clearly felt God wanted us out of that church, but we searched and searched for a home church, looking back now, I’m thinking maybe we weren’t/aren’t supposed to be looking for another ‘traditional’ church. (I’m a little slow)

Cindy January 5, 2012 at 6:33 pm

Sigh. I wish our church felt like home (not that the kind of building matters that much). I really do enjoy the people there, and the preaching is top-notch, but there’s so much that’s institutional about it, like you say. It’s very un-homey. I wonder if it’s just too big for a little hillbilly like me. :-)

Tiffany January 5, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Ugh. This is something I struggle with. We used to go to a small church that had a Sunday evening service. The kids went to Sunday school and children’s church in the morning and were with us in the evening. I loved the balance of that. In our new church (much larger with excellent children’s programs) we don’t have an evening service and the kids are apart from us the entire time we are there, with the exception of my 5th grader. Once they hit 5th grade, they come to service with the adults. Younger children are welcome to come with their parents, but very few do.

We homeschool and are basically hermits for most of the week. We don’t belong to a support group at the moment, so church is my kids’ only social outlet. That’s why I struggle. I’d be happy to have them with me in service, but I don’t want to take away their time with friends, and they truly love the programming. And selfishly, I’ve been with them ALL week long and we study the Bible every day. By Sunday, I’m ready to visit with other adults and listen to the preacher without worrying about my little guys. See, I’ve given this a lot of thought!

I wish my church would make one Sunday a month “family Sunday” and cancel the kid stuff. I know many parents wouldn’t come at all, but that would make me feel better about being separated the rest of the time.

Cindy January 5, 2012 at 7:50 pm

That’s one of the reasons we make a point of sending our kids to the children’s stuff after they worship with us. I love that our church has so many options so everyone can find the best way for their needs. I just wish we felt a little less like we’re imposing our kids on people, as if they don’t have a right to be there!

Lisa in TX January 5, 2012 at 8:26 pm

I wonder if this is why we are seeing a surge in “entertainment” centered worship.

Cindy January 5, 2012 at 8:43 pm

I have no doubt. That’s another concern of mine.

The Husband January 6, 2012 at 10:39 am

Lisa, I think you nailed it.

Tricia January 5, 2012 at 8:45 pm

Great article! Our church is somewhat small (50ish?), but half the members are probably children. I’m so grateful that from our pastor down, children are *encouraged*…we are encouraged to have large families, to bring our children into worship, and so on. I can’t think of the verses right now, but somewhere in the Old Testament (I think when the Law is being read), the Bible describes the assembly gathered as “men, women, and little ones” or “men, women, and nursing infants”…something like that. What are we saying to our children when we *exclude* them from the service? It isn’t exactly teaching our children to listen to God’s actual Word, and sit through a *service* if they don’t do it till they’re a pre-teen…or beyond.

Dawn Wright January 5, 2012 at 8:46 pm

Very interesting….I feel our church is the same. They definitely are child friendly! Love children in the service unless they are screaming….. And I don’t think the separation is intentional. I think to be honest it comes from wanting a strong children’s program. And at our church there are several families that attend together and then put their children in sunday school so they can teach or help do other volunteer positions for another service.

We have talked about this several times in the last few months and have battles within. We do worship daily as a family together. Our children are actually challenged (which is saying something) with the Bible lessons in SS. They LOVE it- because of the small groups and since we homeschool it allows them to interact with others. So we are torn. We would love to do 2 services and volunteer, but with baby #9 on their way- sometime??? We don’t want to take on more than we can chew.

Loved your post. I mostly remember eating cheerios when I was younger during the service. Yeah……. :) Of course some of that had to do with the lack of real in depth teaching at our church.

Cindy January 5, 2012 at 9:32 pm

#9! Don’t you people know what causes that? We don’t either, but after #5, we may ask the doctor where babies come from. ;-)

We volunteered for a little while, but then my hubby’s headaches and the fact that someone is always coming down with the flu around here made us reconsider it. I hope to start doing that again soon, if things ever get easier around here. In the meantime, we’ll keep the kids in worship with us and send them to children’s services whenever we can. If that means never, then I’ll try not to feel guilty about their never getting to be with the other kids. Our culture is far too focused on peer socialization, or we’d never even feel that way, I’m certain.

Emily K January 7, 2012 at 10:39 am

We do get the tummy bug a LOT LESS now that we aren’t using church nurseries.

Last year, only my youngest two got it, and it lasted all of 4 hours. (and they had it at the same time, which was gross, but nice that it was over quickly)

Gail @ The Imperfect Housewife January 5, 2012 at 9:06 pm

Wow Cindy. I couldn’t have said it any better! I have been feeling much the same way with our children. Recently they have not been wanting to go into their ‘classes’ and so, I have decided to no longer make them. Although it has been a difficult adjustment at some points, I remember growing up and sitting in ‘big church.’ It is a desire I have and want to see fulfilled in my own life to have our children sitting with us in church. I don’t feel that our church is very ‘family friendly’ when it comes to keeping your children in the service with you. My husband keeps telling me that it’s good for them to ‘play with children their own age.’ And I understand that as well, as we are home most of the week with no ‘outside’ play time. Still. I’d rather have them sit with us then be in a ‘class’ and not really know what goes on. Maybe I’m just a control freak ;)

The Flamingo January 6, 2012 at 12:06 am

Separating children from the main worship service is actually a product of seeker-friendly churches who started doing it as a way to lure families with no church background into their services. If you tell a mom and dad of toddlers that they can have an hour of peace and quiet while someone else watches their kids (for free!), you have a better chance of getting them into church in the first place. Churches who transitioned from traditional to contemporary as a way to attract non-believers with no church background then had to compete with the seeker-friendly churches and up the ante in their children’s ministries. I honestly did not give the practice much thought until this year when I found myself thinking during particular sermons that my 8 year old son would really think what the pastor is saying is interesting . . . but he was in children’s worship and didn’t hear it.

Ashley Cozzens
Twitter: oliveonandon
January 6, 2012 at 1:34 am

Our congregation is small (50ish on a good day) and our 2 1/2 year old and 15 month old are the only ones there under middle school age. We have Bible study periods that are integrated into our Sunday am and Wed night services and the school age kids break into two small classes in the basement for that. In our small congregation, that means two of the men have to leave the study to teach the classes downstairs. They take turns, but still….
Between nursing an infant/toddler and occasional diaper changes or discipline, I feel like I spend most services in the little bathroom adjacent nursery room. But for the most part, we try to keep the kids in the pew with us. I’d say the toughest ages seem to be between when they learn to walk and babble until about age 2. At least as far as disruption goes…

Amber January 6, 2012 at 9:14 am

I love at our church, the kids are encourages to participate. Once a month, there is family mass where the kids do all the “parts” (usher, read, etc) they can do. My kids have been participating in our masses since they were born. We set as close as possible, have them sing(maybe this is because their dad is a music minister), and follow along with the readings. Mark has been an altar server since he was 7. The kids consider our church a second home, as all of us volunteer there so much. I admit that I did nurse my kids through the homilies when they were babies (in the church). But they learned (and I expected them to) respect the sacred space of the worship space. I hate when parents keep their kids on the back row so they won’t distract others. I think the kids get loud because they bored as they can’t see anything (just my 2 cents). The kids have been in Sunday School since they were potty trained, which is in between the masses.

Amanda January 6, 2012 at 9:27 am

I have been mulling over this for the past year. I have 2 little ones (5 and 2) and don’t like how much time we, as a family, are apart while the Church meets. My oldest one likes to go to children’s church, and I know that she is a help and encouragement to my friend who teaches it, but part of me wants us to worship as a family. Isn’t that what God intended? God created the family unit BEFORE He created the Church. As for my youngest one, I keep her with us during Sunday school and as much of the main service as possible. Usually we (she and I) end up in the nursery when I feel like I’m getting the “look”. Maybe it’s all in my head, but I don’t feel like nursery age kids are very welcome in the service once the preaching starts. I’m thankful though that we are moving next month and are getting a “clean slate” so to speak. This past year has been an eye opening one in terms of spiritual growth. I’ve begun to learn to put serious thought into what I do (which ultimately shows what I believe), not just what I say I believe.

Ashley Cozzens
Twitter: oliveonandon
January 6, 2012 at 10:19 am

“God created the family unit BEFORE He created the Church.”
Great point! I’ve never thought about it that way before, but it is very true. It seems the only times Jesus talked about dividing families was when some were refusing to follow Him and that those who believed had to be strong enough to continue with Him even when their loved ones would not.
I have yet to get “the look” even though sometimes I wonder if ANYONE can hear the lesson over the commotion. In my opinion, my kids’ occasional outbursts just keep the old folks awake. Haha.
Honestly, I’ve been more bothered by the 20-somethings who sit in the very back behind us and literally have a conversation during the service. Or unwrap individually wrapped candies one by one all morning….

Gidget
Twitter: HSingUnscripted
January 6, 2012 at 12:06 pm

hmmm – you’ve given me quite a lot to chew on today, Ms Cindy :)

Our church offers separate church services for the children through the school year and then during the summer, the kids come into the main sanctuary.

Although I do see your point about reaching above their heads, I can’t say that I would bring my kids into the main sanctuary during the school year until they outgrow the kids section (we have different sections that go up to grade 8.) But, I also think that the sermons are probably still a little over their head and would make them reach even starting in grade 9.

But, here’s my reasoning: first, our church has an awesome kids program. They are divided into 3 groups (2s – K5, 1st-5th, and 6th-8th) Each group has a corporate service for their entire group and then they divide up into what we call small groups to dig more into what they’ve learned. Our church also uses the concept of small groups for the adults as well. I guess because we belong to a church that has regular attendees of over 1,000 I like this set up as it allows you to get to know people a little better.

The other reason I support the children’s section is because I remember being bored out of my mind in “big church” as a kid and because of that I went through a time period that once I was old enough to choose, I didn’t go – I associated the way that the service made me feel as a kid with that I wasn’t going to get anything out of it as an adult. Our kids program really makes worship fun as well as serious – and, we even have live music in their corporate services :)

So, I guess that I see a place for both – and truly I think it’s awesome when I hear of a family that enjoys worshiping together and has it figured out. So, I think that there is definitely a place for both ideas because really the point is worship – and whichever way works best for your family. I’ll be honest, I find it difficult to worship when my kids are in the service because I am very distracted and aware of my son’s distress during the service (the music is too loud for him and he doesn’t like how close people sit.) BUT, I would never think anything negative about the family that worships together – in fact, I admire it!

Sorry this comment ended up being so long……I hope though that maybe I’ve shown why some of us do choose to separate for worship :)

Emily K January 7, 2012 at 10:46 am

I was always bored in church as a kid as well. We were Catholic so there were no children’s church choices.

However, there was never an option for me not to go, so I never really thought about it, and somewhere along the way, I grew into loving it.

I do know that there are great children’s programs out there. We were fortunate enough to belong to such a church when we hadn’t considered keeping our children with us. (we aren’t catholic anymore) and overall we were happy with the childrens program and their teachers.

But what I think it really comes down to is a fundamental problem of separating children from their parents during worship, no matter how stellar a children’s program is. Not to say that children’s church will make them run off and become unbelievers or anything, but I think one of the reasons we have so much breakdown in the family (not only divorce, but extended family as well) is the constant separating of them. Church is probably the one place where this should not be so.

Hubby and I used to almost think of Sunday mornings as a “date” because we were essentially childless. I’ll be honest, I enjoyed it a lot.

Now we have our kids with us at church the whole time and it took a while, but they got used to it and are usually very very well behaved in church. They don’t always understand it, but I have faith that they will grow into it the way that we did. My kids are 8,7,5,3, and 3 months.

Gidget
Twitter: HSingunscripted
January 8, 2012 at 1:24 am

I have to admit that I am very torn on this issue – I feel a post brewing LOL

While I definitely agree with the idea of keeping families together (obviously given homeschooling, right? lol) but at 10 and 13, my kids have expressed a desire to have some friends outside of the family. Since we’ve not been blessed with a large family, this seems to be even more necessary.

Ideally I wish that we could make friends with other families and socialize that way, but (and maybe this is only the case in our area) it seems as if all the other parents are always too busy to get together (or maybe it’s me and I scare them away…) but regardless it has become an issue….

I am just so in awe of all of you who have your kids in church with you – it is really an amazing thing! I really do LOVE worshiping with the kids at home but for now, I think church is definitely an avenue for them to find those encouraging relationships that they need :)

Donetta
Twitter: donettadalman
January 7, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Honestly, I’m fine with it either way – for the most part. When my kids were tiny we took them to the nursery during church but once they were old enough to understand what was being said and to learn along with us, we took them to church. As a result, they grew up knowing how to behave in church and knowing how to listen and apply the teaching to their lives.

I think another commenter already mentioned this but the problem I have is when parents take kids into the service and don’t require them to sit and listen at all. Our church has a kids’ program for babies up to 5th grade and lots of the kids go to that but there are lots of kids in church too. Most of them are great and sit and listen. But there have been a few times when some families were around us and they spent the entire service getting on to their kids, shushing their kids, or the kids talked and played through the service. THAT’S when I find it annoying. Those parents aren’t getting anything at all out of the service and the kids are definitely not getting anything out of it. Plus, they distract everyone within a couple of rows of them. I honestly wish those people would let them go to the kids’ service.

That’s my 2 cents. ;) Great post, Cindy!!

Jenny January 8, 2012 at 10:38 pm

I always had my daughter sit by us at church, until we found our current church. They have a true kid’s ministry. My daughter loves it. Honestly, I found that bringing my daughter with me was distracting me from God’s message. Knowing that she is a safe, loving and teaching environment really helps me to relax and get into the service.

Now, I don’t trust just anyone with my daughter either. This is the first place I have left her anywhere without me. (besides family) She jumps for joy each week as she waits to go to her class and she’s able to tell my all about what she learned in church…bible stories, songs, verses, etc.

I don’t have a problem with kids at the service though. Sometimes though, parents do need to be a little more respectful of those trying to listen and take their screaming kids out.

SleeplessinSummerville January 9, 2012 at 10:04 am

You’ve given me a lot to think about, Cindy! At my church, my son goes to the nursery, which is up to age three. Yes, it bothers me that there is no instruction in nursery, but it’s only occurred to me to bring him to service twice. Once he fell asleep immediately and the second time, he got restless and I had to take him out before communion. I haven’t tried again since. I wasn’t brought up in church, so I have no relevant experience to understand what is the correct thing to do. My husband, however, occasionally attended church with his mother and siblings. His father didn’t allow them to attend Sunday school, so the kids just went to the service along with Mom, who then lectured them on the way home trying to explain the sermon to them in words they could understand (my MIL was a schoolteacher). The consequence of this for Mike was that he felt that church was boring and he didn’t learn much and still never leads us to church. It is worth noting here that my parents in law were unequally yoked as they say, and my father-in-law’s different religious beliefs likely played a role in making it an unpleasant memory for Mike. Anyway, my point is I don’t know and thank you for sharing your experiences with us!

Erin January 9, 2012 at 5:02 pm

We find ourselves firmly in the “Family Integrated Church” camp, yet without such a church anywhere near us. Our church is very small, yet still has age segregated Sunday School, children’s church and Wednesday night activities. It is a very hot topic and I’ve been wanting to ask our pastor his views, yet I can’t bring myself to do it as he deals with a few very critical members constantly and I don’t want to pile on.

He did ask my husband to teach the high school ss class and my husband replied that he most likely won’t because they shouldn’t be apart from the adults at that age. That was the extent of their conversation.

Our children participate in the youth activities because we started out with them and in such a small church relationships are involved as much as principles. I would prefer that they were with us, but it is my husband’s responsibility to make the choice. He has decided that at 7th grade they will join the adult classes on Sunday and Wednesday. I can’t help but think if it’s not biblical to segregate by age, why wait until an arbitrary age to keep them with us?

Out of curiousity I searched out the views of the national association of our denomination regarding the FIC and was very disappointed in their condemnation. There was no scriptural defense for their position except for a statement that it was “too Old Testament” and “not New Testament”while giving no example from the New Testament. Basically, a Fundamental Baptist website was condemning a practice for being too biblical. Hmmmm…

I find it very interesting that many churches condemn clinging to the traditions of men while they also fiercely cling to their own unbiblical traditions without any study of how such practices came to be implemented.

There, I can hop off my soapbox…love your blog and the topics about which you write. It is good to stretch the “little gray cells” once in a while!

Cindy January 9, 2012 at 5:08 pm

On behalf of beleaguered small church pastors everywhere (such as my father), I thank you for not making waves. ;-)

republican mother January 13, 2012 at 4:10 pm

I have friends that go to churches where children are not ALLOWED in the sanctuary during church. How crazy is that?
I’ve been to a church where the preacher didn’t let you take a screaming kid into the nursery. He’d just preach louder and say he wasn’t bothered by it.
Right now, we’ve in a church where we’re doing the Visionary Marriage study which is quite good. In it, they say don’t go to a church where the kids are segregated and the teacher asked us what we thought about that. I spoke up that it means you don’t want to get the kids so distanced from adult church life that they don’t know how to behave in big church or even come to like big church. This church currently has a children’s church, but it follows the same format as the larger church.
After working in children’s ministry, I wish there were more family integrated churches around that would challenge parents to do the work of an evangelist in their own homes.

Dawn (Large Family Mom) January 13, 2012 at 10:24 pm

We attend a rather large church, approximately 1600 on a Sunday morning, and while it is not family integrated, we have made it so for our family. Our children who still live at home, from ages 17 down to 4, all attend worship with us, and they do not attend Sunday School. Well, the 17 yr old does, because she and her Daddy go in early to sing in the choir.

Unfortunately, our service is broadcast live on television, so the deacons and elders are expected to “nicely” ask a Mom to leave if their kid is making noise. Our pastor will actually say from the pulpit, “Would someone please show that nice lady where the overflow room is?” My husband and I always cringe when that happens, which is pretty seldom.

We provide our children with pencils and notebooks. They are expected to take notes, even the 4 yr old. No, we can’t read his notes, but he always has something to say about church. : )
We are considered weird I guess, but I am fine with that. Nearly everyone else has their kids either in Sunday School or nursery. We don’t have children’s church, but we run SS concurrently with both services. The pastor DOES encourage folks to bring their children ages 4 and over into worship.
I trained our little ones at home or in a separate area to sit through worship, and now they do just fine. I am speaking to a ladies’ SS class in a few weeks on how to train your littles to sit through worship. Maybe I’ll make a whole bunch of weird disciples. Hee hee!!

I can see it now…little children on every row, taking notes on their little pocket notebooks.
That would be awesome!!

Cindy January 13, 2012 at 10:43 pm

That would be awesome! I give mine notebooks and pencils, but I never thought to tell them to take notes, perhaps because they’re still pretty small. I think I’ll try that. My 7 year old talks about the sermons all the time. I’d hate for him not to get that. Our church does record the sermon for podcast during the service we go to. I always feel guilty about it when our littlest cries during the preaching, but our pastor would never, ever ask us to leave! I hope… Great. Now I’m paranoid.

Dawn January 15, 2012 at 6:05 pm

We have them take notes for a reason which I will be blogging about very soon. I’ll let you know when I get it up!

Tammy January 15, 2012 at 7:58 pm

Hi Everyone!

This is interesting. I can honestly say, I never knew this was a hot topic. Wow. You guys have really thought this out. :) Some great points on both sides.

First, I will say, my husband is a children’s pastor…so I am kinda biased when it comes to whether or not children’s ministry is Biblical. I will say an emphatic YES! It is Biblical. The older women and men are instructed to teach the younger children and even if we don’t like the fact that some children’s ministry is dumbed down ( I would agree) It doesn’t always have to be.

We go to a HUGE church. 8 campuses, 18,000 plus attendees. The main campus only seats 2,500, and we have an overflow room for late-comers and there would be no seating if kids accompanied their parents because our church also loves large families!

We have small groups in our kids church and after the video lesson (that I am not fond of, but we are required to show it) my husband takes the lesson so much deeper. (He’s a senior pastor at heart) So, at our campus, our kids get a very good Biblical lesson that is without a doubt changing lives. I see it all the time in the kids we serve.

My husband and I – and I believe the heart of our church- is not to segregate or keep kids away from parents, but to minister to them where they are at and make church FUN so that they have a foundation that brings back great memories one day and encourages church attendance. Not that our big service isn’t fun because it is too.I love the dynamic worship etc…but truth is, though I totally agree that we should expose our children to topics and readings above their head to challenge them, I am not sure I want them to miss all they will miss while they are “catching up” in church. I can create those other moments for them at home while I am homeschooling and using literature that would be considered a higher reading level.

Of course, we are worshiping with our own kids during service. I work one of the three services in the kids church, my daughter leads worship in kids church and my others are with us. With hubby leading it, we are a family serving and worshiping together. So maybe I don’t feel the void like other families are expressing here.

I never have a problem with kids in service with their parents UNLESS they are there because they defied their parents and refused to go to class and the parent gave in without disciplining their defiance. (Not that a child can’t desire to stay with parents, but it’s the unaddressed tantrum and rude behavior that irritates me.)

Anyway, I don’t think there is a right way or wrong way. I think there are right and wrong churches for each individual family and you have to find which one fits your family.

We have worship as a family at our house. That should be happening in the family unit anyway. Maybe if you go to a church that separates the two of you, you could incorporate it at home to be certain they are learning how to properly worship God. (Interestingly enough, I address how God prescribes worship in an eBook I just wrote…shameless plug :))

Another idea is to bring them with you for worship and then take them to class when worship is over. We have done that at other churches we have attended. I wouldn’t put my kids in a kids church that doesn’t teach them how to properly worship God. Been there…my kids went to service with me.

That’s just my thoughts :) Great conversation!

Cindy January 15, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Shameless plugs are always welcome here. ;-)

Sarah Jane January 25, 2012 at 1:54 pm

I agree with you. My husband and I are blessed where they don’t have “children’s church” during worship. There’s a nursery, but MOST families don’t use it, including my husband and me, but it’s there because there are times where mothers need it.

Rachel
Twitter: BubblyNature
July 23, 2012 at 1:43 am

We are starting a church and we don’t plan to age segregate (well at least not much). I always grew up with the age segregated modeled church and by the time I was a youth it really hurt me spiritually. I could go into it more, but I don’t think that my case is always the norm, (but it isn’t uncommon either). We may or may not have a nursery especially for new members that are not used to the model (which is a sore spot for most hard core FIC ers). Anyways, I guess all of that to say that I really don’t believe that there is one perfect model, but the traditional church (IMO) has gone way overboard and kids being a part of the WHOLE body of Christ is essential to spiritual development and longevity.

Samantha January 9, 2013 at 8:26 pm

I know this is kind of an older post, ya know, only a year! But I really wanted to chime in. We used to live in another state and it was in that state that we started our family. When we began attending the church there it was a small store-front church but while we were attending it grew huge. By the time we moved away 6yrs later the church had over 600 attendees and two or three services going on. Even before we moved out of state I was becoming unhappy in our church because of the segregation. But it wasn’t so much because I wanted my children in worship for worship’s sake it was because I wanted my baby with me because I liked having my baby with me. The nursing area was way in the basement in the back of the nursery where I could neither see nor hear the sermon. It was a frustrating situation when the pastor sent out a letter WITH the bulletin one Sunday that they did not want babies in the service because they were disruptive. I felt that our children were no longer valued as part of the family unit and were merely seen as inconveniences that could be quietly shuffled off to the basement where the children’s ministry was held. The classrooms were amazing, the toys up to date, the classrooms had tv’s and dvd players for veggie tale movies and the like. But that is NOT what church is about. I stick my kids in front of enough tv at home, thanks so much.

When we moved here to the state we now live in, back to my own hometown we were super blessed to find a country church that I had never heard of growing up. Our first Sunday there was like walking into the perfect church for our family. There is a nursery and there is a children’s program but the children come into the service with us and participate in the song service and offering time. They are dismissed for the sermon part of the service but I am personally ok with this. I feel like we have a REALLY good balance. In the summer this past year the kids 6 and older remained in the service the whole time in an effort to give the children’s ministry workers time off. The church provided quiet activity bags for the kids, these included paper on a clipboard, bible coloring pages, and pipe cleaners. I really enjoyed having my oldest in the sermon with us. Another nice thing is that it is readily accepted as ok when kids prefer to remain with their parents. This past Sunday our 2yr old went to nursery with her cousin who was visiting and isn’t a regular church attender and is also 2. The cousin got freaked out about ten minutes in and when I went to get her of course my own 2yr old didn’t want to be left behind. So yes I took my crying daughter out of the nursery and she sat in the sanctuary. She squirmed and she colored a little and she tried to jabber which of course I shushed. But that’s how she’s going to learn. The older people in the congregation are always really great with them and have no problem with the kids being in the service. I do take my kids out if they are being too disruptive though. We all try to be considerate of one another and it really just is a family church. I wouldn’t personally get anything out of the message if my whole crew were sitting in with me. They just play off each other but it hasn’t been terrible having one in there with us at a time. lol

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