Thursday, February 26, 2015

It Can Be Controversial . . . Do You Have Children in "Big" Church - or Not?

In Children's Ministry there are a few things which dedicated people disagree upon and can easily get into a debate over. One of these things is whether or not we should have children in the "big" church service or in classes which focus on engaging them in the learning. Today and tomorrow I'm going to look at this question; today I'll focus on including children in the "big" church service and give some reasons why we should as well as reasons we should not. I'll wrap it up today with some ideas of how to engage children in the "big" service if this is what you do at your church.

Reasons why we should involve children in the "big" church service . . . 
  • It gives children the opportunity to worship with their parents/family.
  • It helps children learn what it means to be in "big" church.
  • It provides the opportunity for children to see their parents worship, give and listen in "big" church.
Reasons why we should not involve children in the "big" church service . . .
  • Children get the message "big" church is for adults and they just have to be quiet so they do not annoy adults (they are often given an activity box to keep them quiet and busy).
  • Children may decide "big" church is boring and not for them.
  • Children do not tend to actually listen, so they are not really getting very much out of being in "big" church.
There are more "reasons" for each view, but let's focus on what to do to help children actually engage in the service if your church has children in your "big" church service. Consider the following . . . 
  • One of the best things you can do is to have children take "notes". I do this with my grandson when he visits our church (started with him when he was five years old). I had him listen to our pastor and draw picture of what he heard him say. The first time he did this we had a visiting missionary speak and Josiah drew a picture of boys - the missionary talked about his family and showed photos - then Josiah drew bridges - the missionary about building "bridges" with people in other countries. Josiah also drew arrows - the missionary talked about "arrow" prayers. Josiah listened and was able to tell me about his drawing which gave us the opportunity to talk together on our way home about the things the missionary said. This is a very "doable" thing you can have children and families do in your church and by having children listen and take "notes" - draw pictures of what they hear or actually write notes - it communicates to them they can listen and actually learn from what the pastor is saying. It helps them learn "big" church is for them because God's Word is for them! And a great "bonus" is it gives families something to talk about together on the way home or at the dinner table!
  • Engage children in the music by having teams of children join the praise team. Children who do this will have to commit to learn the songs, but by having children as part of the praise team - at least some weeks - it shows children "big" church is for them, too!
  • Give children - and families - 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 "big" church and learn it is for them, too, because, after all, it is because God's Word is for them! If we are going to have children in our "big" service, we must be intentional about helping them learn to listen and understand what they hear. We must be focused at helping children learn participating in "big" church is a great thing because it helps them learn how to know and walk with God - which is something children can do!

Do you include children in your big" church service? Why or why not? If you do, what do you do to help them engage and learn "big" church is for them, too?

1 comment:

  1. Like, like, like this post. You know my feelings on this. I believe if kids don't go to big church and they are kept separated they will never learn what church is all about. I write about this in my book, "Attract Families to Your Church and Keep Them Coming Back." 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 segragated 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.