Friday, February 27, 2015

"Big" Church or Not? Do You Provide Children's Church?

Yesterday I wrote about the "controversy" of having children participate in "big" church and included some reasons to do so as well as reasons not to. I wrapped up the post with ideas of things you can do to engage children if your church includes children in "big" church. (You'll find the post at this link.)

Some of you commented and shared your "take" on including children in "big" church; 
Linda Ransom-Jacobs said she believes, "if kids don't go to big church and they are kept separated they will never learn what church is all about. When kids grow up in a building separated from the church family they will not want to become part of big church when they become adults. They have been used to being entertained and segregated from anyone except their age group. If they have never been exposed to worshipping with different generations and heard prayers answered it will be foreign to them.
Matt Norman said, "We have separate service for children on Sunday morning. We do, however, ask all children four and older to attend church with their parents on Sunday evening. I have no problem with children being in 'big church'. The problem is, however; these environments seldom (if ever) actually take the children into consideration. These are ADULT environments we are forcing children into. Many say we do this in order to 'train the children how to worship as part of the church.' Really? So, do we train children to play baseball by having them play with or against adults? No, we create environments which are appropriate for their age and level of skill. Yet, this is the approach we take with teaching children to worship, placing them in adult environments and expecting them to make he most of it." 
Rachel Vigna said, "Matt is so right, children learn best in environments tailored to fit their needs. However, I do have a few parents at my church who prefer to worship with their kiddos. I don't agree with that happening every week, but I do think it can be beneficial if done well. Here, we do 'family services' where we don't have children's classes and we instead have children join us in 'big' church. We do this for special occasions and only a few times a year; there are things children can pick up from going to 'big' church which you can't teach them in children's worship." (Rachel included a link for a flyer she uses in her church which helps children focus, take notes and engage in the sermon and service - you'll find it at this link - thank you Rachel!)
Thank you for sharing - there are different opinions for sure! Today I want to look at reasons for having church specifically for children, or not!

Reasons why we should have church specifically for children . . . 
  • It gives children the opportunity to worship with their peers.
  • It helps children worship in ways which they can understand and relate to.
  • It provides the opportunity for children to be engaged and to respond in a safe setting they understand
  • It allows us to teach God's Word in ways which engage children so they will remember, understand and be able to live.
Reasons why we should not have church specifically for children . . .
  • Children get the message "big" church is for adults and not for them.
  • Children may expect to be "entertained" or church is not for them.
  • Children will become used to having church their way and will not want to participate in "big" church when they are older.
There are more "reasons" for each view, but let's focus on what to do to help children truly engage in the service if your church has children's church. Consider the following . . . 
  • Once again, one of the best things you can do is to have children take "notes". Encourage children to draw or write something which really stands out to them in the Bible lesson. Challenge them to take this home with them and to talk about it with their family. If children learn to take "notes" as children, then when they are ready for "big" church it will be much more likely they will continue to do this.
  • Engage children in the music by having teams of children serve as your praise team. Children who do this will have to commit to learn the songs, but by having children as the praise team it gives them an opportunity to truly be an active participant in the church service as they serve using their talents.
  • Give children the opportunity to share their testimonies of what they are learning in their walk with God.
These are just a few ideas of how to help children engage in a service specifically for them. If we are going to provide a children's church service, we must be intentional about helping them learn to listen and understand what they hear and not just become a place where children are "entertained". We must be focused at helping children learn while it is a children's church service, it is church and they will have the opportunity to learn how to know and walk with God - which is something they can do - and not just be entertained!

Do you provide a children's church service? Why or why not? If you do, what do you do to focus on helping children really learn to worship and know and walk with God rather than just entertain them?  

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