Guest Post – A Brief Explanation of Why We Don’t Do Children’s Church

One question myself and my church frequently gets is why don’t we have children’s church on Sunday mornings for our little ones? When asked that question I typically want to respond back, “why do you have children’s church?” Based on their answers and my past experiences, here are the two typical reasons why most churches choose to separate families and remove the kids out of worship: First people will argue, “The little kids won’t understand the adult service. They need something on their level.” I think it’s obvious that a three-year old doesn’t understand what themes like justification and imputation mean, but I would counter how do we expect them to ever learn them if we always dumb everything down for them? Here is an example my pastor used recently: he said that many kids enjoy playing dress-up and using mommy and daddy’s clothes. The little boy may put on his dad’s oversized shirt with the sleeves hanging off his arms and then slip on dad’s shoes and traipse around the house with dad’s shoes flopping like flippers. This is the picture of the child sitting in the adult service with his family.

IMG_4545_jpglargethumbWe acknowledge that the service does not fit him properly yet, however we are fully expecting him to grow into it. Lastly, I flat out reject the notion that children are incapable of praising God. The position of both Christ and the Psalmist was that children were capable of praising God. (Matt 21:16 and Psalm 8:2).

The next argument I frequently hear for the case of children’s church is that a little child will have difficulty sitting still and being quiet during the entirety of the adult service. Again, this may very well be the case, but it does not necessarily have to be. I think many times we sell our children short, and our expectations of their abilities far fall below what they are actually capable of doing. I personally think children can sit still for longer periods than most parents think, with a big qualification. That qualification is that sitting and being attentive in worship must be practiced. This means that a child should regularly be working on sitting still and listening during family devotionals in the home. The adage practice makes perfect rings very true and if a little one is practicing participating in worship every single day during family devotional times, then they will naturally be more apt to devoting attention during corporate worship. Of course herein lies a great problem because most parents completely neglect any type of family worship. Which leads me to my next point: the task of instructing and leading children in worship is not the duty of the local church, but instead is a task the scriptures give to parents. Of course the church is there to support the parents in this most worthwhile endeavor, but the primary responsibility falls on mom and dad.

This desire to throw off such a great responsibility leads to a last answer why many parents are fine with children’s service. This is the answer that hardly anyone ever confesses if you ask them why they support children’s church, however I think it is a true reason, even if not readily admitted. The reason is many parents enjoy passing the responsibility of instructing their child in the faith onto someone else. It pains me to write that sentence, but it’s true. For those who would argue against it, I simply ask you to examine the lives of those parents around you. I challenge you to examine your own life. Examine and ask this question, “is my child’s faith the most important focus in my raising them?” How much time a week do you spend catechizing your child compared to how much time you spend trotting them off to sporting events? How much time do you spend reading the scriptures to your child versus how much time you spend watching TV with them? When so many parents neglect to invest in the spiritual lives of their children, how can it be expected they would want to do so for another 90 minutes on Sunday morning? If the parents aren’t practicing regular family worship, then of course their children will be fidgety during the sermon. Is it easier to lovingly discipline their child, making sure to teach the child the utmost importance of sitting under the preaching of the Word, or is it easier to send the kids off and let someone else deal with them during that time? I regrettably have to admit that the latter seems to have won out in too many of our churches today.

I will close with this last thought on why children should be with their family during the worship service. God has included our children as members of the new covenant community of Christ. They may not possess the outward saving faith of the adult members, but God has made promises to the young people that He deems them part of the church family. With these great and precious promises, why would we dare want to fracture this beautiful covenant family? We wouldn’t dare go on a summer vacation to the beach, but then tell our kids they are staying home for the week because we’re afraid they might get antsy at some point of the trip. How much more preposterous to tell our kids they aren’t welcome in the greatest and most important time of our week, the corporate worship of our Heavenly King, simply because they might fidget and make noise?

http://costfreechristianity.blogspot.com

http://costfreechristianity.blogspot.com/search?q=children’s+church

Absolutely NO Children Allowed; We’re Worshiping Here

Perhaps you’ve read about this incident on FaceBook. It first appeared on January 21, 2015 at a blog called “Pajama Pages.”

Last Sunday morning, Connor Shaw, the former USC Gamecocks quarterback and current Cleveland Browns backup quarterback, tried to attend a NewSpring service with his family, but found that NewSpring’s “children bouncers” (their term) prohibited his children from entering the auditorium with him.

He wasn’t impressed, and said so on Twitter:300x300xDot_not_touch-300x300.png.pagespeed.ic.lwg19gt7nx

Me & my wife were told we can’t go to congregation with our daughter. Too young?!? Don’t think He would approve ‪@newspring Matthew18:1-3

(Read the entire piece here).

 

“New Spring” refers to New Spring Church, a multi-campus group in South Carolina, led by controversial pastor Perry Noble. This is not a post intended to bash Perry Noble or New Spring Church, although I certainly could spend some time on our differences. No, it is my intent to bash a heinous and unbiblical policy being followed (and forcefully, according to Pajama Pages.

 

It is contrary to God’s Word to forcibly separate worshiping families. Throughout God’s Word we see pictures of the generations worshiping together. Where were the children during the feeding of the 5,000? There were elders and children and those “nursing at the breast” at the sacred assembly we read about in Joel 2:15-16. No need for a full Biblical exposition. You can find that in Children in Church: Nurturing Hearts of Worship.

 

This separation of families is what was done in the Soviet Union and its satellites. This is a practice long-associated with cults. It should not be practiced in the church. A separate “cry room” may be necessary. A changing room for diapers and other issues is fine. Even a voluntary opportunity for families to spend some time apart.  It should be the goal of every congregation, however,  to foster an atmosphere in which families can worship together. It won’t always be easy. It won’t always be fun. In the end, however, it will be rewarding as we train up our children in the nurture and admonition of the LORD.

A Sense of the Sacred

What do you call the venue at which your congregation meets for worship? To some it’s an auditorium. Others refer to this place as “the theater,” or the “assembly hall,” or even “the gym.” To me, it’s the sanctuary.

A sanctuary need not be a marvel in Christian architecture. It can be a humble space rented from a school or community building. It can be in a storefront or a social club’s meeting room. It may also be a large, beautiful cathedral. The point of the term “sanctuary” is not the surroundings, but its use.

The word can be defined thusly,

th-2Sanctuary is a word derived from the Latin sanctuarium, which is like most words ending in -arium, a container for keeping something in – in this case holy things or perhaps holy people, sancta or sancti. The meaning was extended to places of holiness or safety. (Wikipedia).

A sanctuary is a container, it holds something. Ideally, what it enfolds is Christian believers filled with awe.

Words have meaning. If we call the place in which we meet for worship a gym, it will be treated like a gym. If we think of that space as a theater, then theatrics probably happen there. But, what happens when we enter the sanctuary?

In Psalm 73, Asaph is bemoaning his fate. He sees himself as the pure and righteous, yet those all around who cheat and lie and mock God are getting fat (in a good way). Then this, in verse 17: “…until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.” It was in the sanctuary that Asaph encountered the living God. It was there that he discerned the truth about His relationship with God. He wrote:

Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
    you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
    you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
But for me it is good to be near God;
    I have made the Lord God my refuge,
    that I may tell of all your works.

These are the things we should hear and have reinforced in the sanctuary, that place of refuge and safety and reverence.

As we enter the house of worship, we should have a sense of the sacred. And we must pass this awe on to the next generation. In Psalm 78, this same Asaph writes,

We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,  and the wonders that he has done.

Hide what? The glories of God! No, we want to expose them.

Certainly these lessons are to be taught at home, by believing parents. Let us not neglect, however, to teach the children the awe, the majesty of God in the setting of corporate worship.

I recently came across a blog post (actually, my wife sent it to me) that explains rather nicely what we should be conveying to the next generation regarding the sanctuary – and what we should avoid. Here’s a quote from that essay.

We have spent so much time and effort trying to make Church appealing to children by making it feel like home or school, creating spaces for them where they can sit apart and do their “kid” thing. Spaces where they feel welcomed in their childishness and “at home”. But we have been mistaken.

Because, first, we do not need to make children welcome in Church. By the very nature of the fact that is a Church founded by Jesus, who called the children to Himself, they are welcomed. We call a Church “the 

Second, we are not meant to feel at home at Church, at least not in the sense that we feel comfortable behaving the way we do at home while at Church. Stepping into Church should make us exhale with wonder. We should be aware that our surroundings have changed when we entered those doors. It should bring us to quiet attention. It should bring us to our knees. And our children should feel the same way. They may not respond to it in the way that we do as adults, but a child should have the sense of quiet hush that is adoration when he enters a Church. (Let’s Give Our Kids a Sense of the Sacred)

These are some of the points Sandra and I make in the book Children in Church: Nurturing Hearts of Worship. Allow me to boldly suggest that this be your first book purchase of this new year. Teach your children well. Teach them the glorious deeds of the LORD and His might, and the wonders He has done.

Book Excerpt

Children in Church: Nurturing Hearts of Worship is not a “how-to” book. While it does, indeed, have some practical tips to encourage those who are in the process of bringing their children to corporate worship with them, it includes much more. The book begins with a Scriptural survey regarding families in worship and includes many personal anecdotes and observations. Here’s an excerpt:

ImageWorship in the corporate setting provides the opportunity to blend and multiply our love and devotion to God with brothers and sisters of every economic or ethnic group, physical aspect or ability, intellectual capacity or academic standing, emotional development or spiritual maturity, and a host of other variations. We would suggest that this divinely‑ordained diversity also includes a wide range of ages. The diversity of those who gather to worship wonderfully reflects the humanity God created and the very Godhead itself.

The book is available in both paperback and kindle format at http://childreninchurch.com.

Book Review

“The topic of children in corporate worship is becoming increasingly controversial. Curt and Sandra Lovelace bring a balanced and CIC coverScripturally informed approach to this discussion. They share from their dual experience of being both parents and church leaders. This book is free from caustic grenade throwing, and provides far more light than heat for those who are honestly trying to wrestle through these issues. If you are trying to make sense of the Family-Integrated model, as opposed to the age-segregated model of corporate worship, you need to read “Children in Church.” More than just an abstract treatise, Curt and Sandra give parents practical, hands-on advice about how to lead their children in worship in both the church and the home.

This book is a vital contribution to the discussion of leading children to worship in both the church and the home.”

                                                                                                    -Israel Wayne, Author and Conference Speaker

Book Excerpt

What is Worship?

If we expect to make headway in the introduction of corporate worship to our children, it would be good to grasp its meaning ourselves.

Take a few minutes to consider the elements of what Scripture defines as corporate worship.There are numerous biblical references that outline the weekly essentials: reading the Word; singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; receiving the offering; preaching from

CIC coverthe Word; and offering prayers. In the meaningful aspects of these varied elements, children should not merely be physically present; it is their participation that needs to be promoted and strengthened. (Children in Church: Nurturing Hearts of Worship, p. 23)

You can order your copy of Children in Church here.

Book Excerpt

The great Puritan preacher, Matthew Henry, encouraged parents to teach their children about worship and to bring the children to services with them. He wrote:

CIC coverLittle children should learn betimes to worship God. Their parents should instruct them in his worship and bring them to it, put them upon engaging in it as well as they can, and God will graciously accept them, and teach them to do better.

(Quoted on page 21, Children in Church: Nurturing Hearts of Worship)