In the past I have mentioned that Aaron & I like to keep our children with us in church. I have received several inquiries as to why and how we go about this. I have finally gotten around to addressing this topic here today. I know it may be controversial, but I pray you would hear my heart and our family’s vision in this area.
I was 12 years old. Our family was taking a family vacation around the United States, expanding our knowledge of history, geography, and most importantly building family relationships. It was Sunday morning. We decided to visit a church where an old friend of my mom’s was pastoring. The moment all eight of us children walked into the sanctuary we were quickly stopped by a lady. She kindly directed us to the multiple children’s services taking place down the hallway. There was one room for each of us. We were not allowed in the service. What would you expect went through my 12 year old head? Children were not wanted. Children were noisy. Children would get in the way. Children need entertainment. They cannot sit quietly for a sermon. Children would not understand a sermon.
Statistically, as many as 88% of teens who profess Christianity walk away from their faith by the end of their freshman year in college. Could this be one of the reasons? The question begs to be asked. If children are quickly escorted off to Sunday School to be entertained from birth through high school, can we really expect them to be able to adjust well into the adult services after youth group? Families are immediately separated at the commencement of services for each to go their own direction. Sally to nursery. Thomas to youth group. Is this really helping build family relationships?
As a mother of small children who knows the challenges of training infants and toddlers to sit quietly, I definitely think there is a place for having a nursery or child care for small children. As we are involved in a new church plant, we are hoping to establish a nursery for children under five. I believe this can be very valuable, especially for new moms (whether newly saved or not) coming into the church or people just acquainted with this idea and need help adjusting. It is nice to have this option for a mother (like myself) who would like to be able to hear the sermon every once in a while. In the meantime, Aaron and I often listen to sermons during the week if we are not able to catch the full sermon on Sundays while juggling the little ones. I will also add that not all Sunday school programs are watered down, entertainment based, but those that are solid and doctrinally based are few and far between.
My husband Aaron and I have been blessed to have been raised in a church where children were gladly welcomed in the services at all times. It was actually age-integrated and did not offer any Sunday school programs. I have asked a few ladies to share their thoughts on the why’s and how’s of keeping children in church.
Why do you desire to keep your children in church with you?
Personally, I have experienced the impact of seeing my parents worship. As I witnessed their passion for the Lord, their enthusiasm to worship and cherish the Word, I know their example impacted me for eternity. I want my children to have this same experience. I want to be an example of one who wholeheartedly worships the Lord. My prayer is that my little ones would likewise catch the vision. Including them in church is all part of their training and discipleship. I want them to hear the full weight of the gospel. It may be hard to understand at times, but that just gives us more opportunities for follow up, discussion and discipleship at home. My husband and I believe that including them with us in church is just one way to keep our family together, worshiping and serving the Lord together as a full family unit. Lord willing, a mighty force for the kingdom!
Amy, mother of three little ones under 4 shares:
1. It helps to train parents, as well as other family members, to be tolerant and patient with babies as they mature to be children who can sit quietly and actually receive something from a sermon.
2. It gives children an opportunity to see their parents worshiping the Lord in song and listening to the sermon, being an example for them to follow. It also gives children the security of being included in the family unit which is included in the extended family of God.
3. It gives kids an opportunity to learn to respect God more because parents expect that of them.
4. In a culture that often time sees children as an inconvenience, it shows that we really do enjoy their company even if it’s childish.
5. It keeps babies out of the traditional nursery situation where germs are easily spread through the sharing of slobber, snot, and diaper changing stations.
6. It keeps babies safe in the arms of family and trusted friends instead of the arms of a nursery attendant who might be a total stranger or worse.
7. It helps our children to see themselves as a participating member of a local church instead of reducing church to a place that can often be (with some exceptions) one of entertainment with fruit loops and Veggie Tales.
8. It’s in keeping with the historical model of worship services.
Tomorrow, these ladies will be sharing their tips and suggestions for training children to sit quietly within the cooperate gathering of the church. Stay tuned for part 2…
For further vision on this topic, check out these resources:
Family Renewal: The Role of Children in the Meeting of the Church by Doug Philipps (a free downloadable sermon) – listen together with your spouse!
Children in the Meeting of the Ephesian Church by Scott Brown
Family Driven Faith by Voddie Baucham Jr. – A fantastic read on the importance of parents leading in training their children in the Word of God. Powerful! I would encourage every couple to read this book together!