Wednesday, April 1, 2009

One Big Controversy

OK, so maybe we can get a little discussion happening on this blog.  There is a rather large controversy (among many) that takes place in children's & family ministry today that I want to present to you:

Kids or No Kids:  Should kids be allowed in the adult church services?  Believe it or not, there are some churches that do not allow kids of any age into their adult services.  If brought in, the ushers kindly request the parents to take them to the children's ministry programming.  There are other churches (and not just home churches) that do not have any CM programming at all.  

For instance, check out this video.  It is a little lengthy, but proves the controversy exists:  

Especially in light of current Family Ministry trends, what are your thoughts on the matter?  Let me get it going...

What message does this send to parents and kids about their place within the family of God.  Churches who take this stance believe that the "important work" is happening in the adult worship center, and that kids are 2nd class.  Moreover, the role of parents to spiritually train their children and therefore have the right to choose to take their kids with them or not, is trampled on worse thatn the United Nations wants to.  Yes, it's a distraction....yes, it is not geared for them...but this clealy sends a message of despising children and families.

Of couse, that is probably why churches like this are growing!  The modern-day church is rifed with this type of perception that children are simply a distraction to God's plan and purpose for the church ("Making Disciples").  WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!  Discipling our children IS God's plan and purpose for the church.  What better way to grow the church to impact the community and world than to disciple and train children in our own homes and churches to be salt and light into the world?  How do you think the Hebrew people were able to not only survive, but thrive while in slavary and exile???  Because they kept having children and training them to love God and keep His commandments (Deut. 6:4-9).

OK, enough of my thoughts.  What about some of you?  No Lurkers.  Let me hear what you have to say regardles of what side of the issue you are on.  You are safe here, no attacking comments will be allowed to remain.



  1. I don't agree with a "No Kids Allowed" policy, but I understand the preference of having kids in the kids ministry if it's available. That doesn't necessarily mean you're treating kids as 2nd-class citizens--the child ministry might be better than the service on any given Sunday. But it does carry the stench of "separate but equal" that doesn't exactly scream, "Right thing to do."

    Here's a question in response: Should adults who aren't teachers or leaders be allowed to attend and/or participate in the child ministry programs instead of the "adult" service? And I don't mean that sarcastically at all.

  2. I agree there is a balance, and as a Children's Pastor I would love to have as many kids in the CM programming as possible (if nothing else makes it looks like we know what we are doing). :-) I just have a problem with any church telling me what I can and cannot do with my kids - just as much as the government telling me the same kind of thing.

    It would be AWESOME to have adults come by the kid's worship service (providing for safety and security issues). Maybe they would catch onto the excitement of children's ministry that way and stick around to become volunteers???

    Thanks for the comment AK.


  3. I wouldn't put up with this nonsense. My wife and I expect our children to sit quietly during church and behave. A friend's grandfather was known to say a child can learn to sit quietly through church by the age of one. We have adopted this position and by the time my son was one he was sitting quietly through church, we'll do the same with our two month old daughter. It's up to us to teach our kids how to sit through church. They may not understand what's going on now but when he's old enough to understand he'll have the ability to sit quietly and listen through church. This is the sort of valuable skill parents must teach their children.

    I further reject the mere notion of children's ministry. There isn't a fun filled gospel complete with cartoonish mascot just for children, just like there isn't a pink frilly gospel just for women. By taking kids out of church, we're teaching them that the gospel is different for everyone and we're teaching them that their father is not their spiritual head. Both of which are negative.

    Obviously some children are annoying and aren't being disciplined like they're supposed to. But that calls for action on the part of the older people in church to keep those parents in line. It doesn't call for the church to ban children.

  4. I just did a presentation on this topic for a presbytery that brought me in. Ideally, worship is for the family of God to come together and worship God together (there are lots of biblical references to that). However, I also think the church could do a lot more to help parents to be able to make this a reality. Neither the habit of worship nor the role of parent as spiritual champion come to us innately so we as the church have to help all generations with an understanding of worship. We also have to help parents in their role. One huge issue for worship today is that for the family of God to worship God, there needs to be changes that truly make it possible for the family of God to worship God. Many churches are so adult focused and parents feel so conspicuous that it is probably better for the kids spiritual growth not to have to experience that worship. We are working with churches to try to help them change some of those things.

  5. NT - If I were sitting there I would have most likely walked out as I do believe they are violating one of THE main tenants of God's Word. But remember, they are often talking about subjects in their adult services that children should only hear about from their parents in their own homes (sexuality, homosexuality, etc.). Now, whether or not those topics or way of presenting those topics are appropriate for the church is a different issue. I don't think it is an issue of a "different gospel," but more of "becoming different things to different people so as to reach some." (aka, the philosophy of Paul in the NT).

    TB - Nice to "meet" you! Agreed the church has a lot to relearn about how selfishly focused we have become on adults. It is one way we have let culture negatively affect the church - to view children as a burden rather than as a blessing.


  6. Hmmmmm....are we getting a little confused about the difference between worship and Sunday classes? I am all for breaking out into different age groups for the learning time for everyone's benefit (particularly to relate to developmental levels)! But it shouldn't be such a leap to be able to come together to worship.

    "Be quiet and listen"? Again, that sounds like a classroom and not worship. Topics that children shouldn't hear? Is that worshipful? Maybe yes, maybe no.

    I know that a central piece of worship is interpreting the scripture through a sermon/message. So I'm not saying that a thoughtful message shouldn't be delivered. But when we're expecting children to do nothing more than endure the time in the worship service I can't believe that many in the room are participating in a truly worshipful experience.

  7. I guess it depends on what a church is doing in order to help parents. If the church is dumbing down sermons in order to appeal to children, then the church is doing everyone a disservice. Sermons need not appeal to children, they need to appeal to God's word and adults, men in particular. The church needs to equip men to lead their families after all.

    The role of the church in all of this is to expect parents to discipline their children in accordance with God's word. The church needs to set high standards and if necessary teach parents how to properly train their kids to sit through church quietly. It doesn't matter that very young children don't understand what's going on, all that matters is that they learn the skill so they won't have a problem sitting still when they do understand what's going on. It takes a little bit of work, but whoever said anything in this life was easy?

  8. Dean, nice to meet as well. All of this conversation reminds me of a piece we did that starts out with a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, "The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children" and ends with Mark 10:14, "Let the children come to me do not stop them for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs."

    Thanks for writing this blog and encouraging this conversation.

  9. There is also some good discussion happening on this topic on facebook. If you are on FB and make a friend request, you can check it out:

    In fact I just wrote this there and thought I would repost it here:

    Unfortunately, the church has gotten the Worship part of the weekly worship services backwards. It is supposed to be about giving back to God, not about deep spiritual growth. That should take place in other settings (Sunday school classes, ABF, Small Groups, etc.). Having classes for children for those environments makes sense.