You can find Part 1 of this series here!
Should church be a place where family members go their separate ways, or should families worship and learn together?
A few months ago, my family visited a semi-large Baptist Church in the area. Creation Ministries International was speaking that morning, and I wanted my children to listen to a speech about creation v. evolution. We arrived with only a few minutes to spare. During praise and worship I glanced around the sanctuary, and noticed that a certain group of people were sorely missing. Children. A leading homeschool curriculum company was speaking to the church body, but the students that they usually minister to were in their “children’s church” instead of listening to the speech. That was a bit shocking to me. Babies were also strangely absent. Our baby was actually the only noticeable child under one in the sanctuary. Sure enough, when we were walking to our van tons of babies and children emerged with their parents. Why were they not in service with their parents, especially during a Creation presentation?
Children’s churches are very commonplace in our area of the country. It’s basically assumed that parent’s will utilize these programs for their children and infants. This way parents can listen to the sermon “without distraction,” and children will be taught “on their level.” Everybody wins, right? Where did these notions come from in the first place however?
Children’s Churches (or Children’s Ministries) were first derived as a form of Sunday School. The idea of Sunday School was originally devised to keep poor, uneducated children from delinquency. Children’s Churches are modern institutions which are now largely modeled after the public education system. Classes are most often age segregated, and include “fun” activities that at times do not have any value in teaching our children the ways of God.
I asked this question in Part 1 of this series, and I’m going to ask it again here. Is this biblical?
Children’s Churches send the message that God’s Word isn’t sufficient as is, and it must be taught down to various age groups to create “understanding.”
Children’s Churches subtlety promote the idea that children are a distraction that do not belong in the sanctuary. We are creating a generation of adults who view children as such by hiding them away elsewhere.
Children’s Churches separate family units.
Children’s Churches are not mentioned in the Bible. Wouldn’t God’s inspired Word mention this if it was important? Wouldn’t the need to “teach down” be mentioned if it is necessary?
Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.
Every word of God is pure; he is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.
…that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other.
1 Corinthians 4:6
For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.
As a whole, these verses are speaking of physically adding or subtracting actual verses from the Bible. Shouldn’t we believe however, that all we need to know about holding church services is already written in His word? Wouldn’t instructions pertaining to the leading Bride of Christ be fully sufficient in scripture? ( I have heard the argument that, for example, church secretaries, aren’t mentioned in scripture either. Is the position of a secretary wrong to fill in a church? I’m not sure of that answer. I do believe that in terms of leading the flock, the Bible is absolutely sufficient.)
My children attended Children’s Church many years ago. When I ask them what they remember it always involves either food or playground antics. My desire now is that our children grow by listening to God ordained ministers with me by their side. Is this an inconvenience for me at times? Yes. I spend a lot of my time in church attempting to quietly entertain my toddler and infant. I miss parts of sermons at times due to my baby’s fussiness. There is one thing I’ve learned through this however. It’s not about me. Raising children isn’t always pretty, and at times it’s downright hard. But in the end, it will be worth any petty sacrifices that I might need to make.
College students are leaving the church in record numbers. Could this be because the “fun” and “fellowship” that they have been having all of these years hasn’t really taught them what they need to know about their relationship with our Lord? This documentary is eye opening: Divided The Movie: Is Modern Youth Ministry Multiplying or Dividing the Church? Youth Pastor’s (and Children’s Church leaders) are not a position even mentioned in the Bible…these youth ministers are actually fulfilling the role that God has given to parents. This in turn makes it so easy for parents to leave their Biblically mandated role in someone else’s hands.
Benefits of Worshiping and Learning as a Family
When we worship and learn together as a family, us parents will know exactly what was taught. Throughout the remainder of the week we can discuss truths learned during the sermon. If our children are in a separate class during this time, we really don’t know exactly what was discussed. We will be unequipped to dig deeper into the lesson throughout the week.
- When we worship and learn together as a family, our children will learn rules of respect in church at an early age. This will help them in the long run.
- When we worship and learn together as a family, we are combatting the falsehood that Christianity needs to be changed to “meet” our children right where they are in life. As adults these same children expect Christianity to “meet” them where they are. They desire to hear messages that make them feel better about themselves instead of teaching them how to better serve our Lord.
My prayer is that families will begin to dig deeper into the Word of God when deciding how to learn and worship.
Next week I will be addressing several comments and questions that I received in regards to Part 1 of this series.