I’ve read many articles debating the topic of whether children should sit through adult services or have their own. One in particular from a well known Pastor who believes children should sit with the adults the entire time. This has been a controversial topic in Children’s Ministry for some time, with many theologians, like this well known pastor, believing that children should sit with adults the entire time.
There are three approaches.
- There are only adult services, everyone attends them.
- There is mixed worship, after worship children have their own classes/groups.
- Children have their own service, including their own worship.
“Let the children come to me” is the verse they often quote or misquote to suggest the first approach. By using this to justify their position, they’re implying that children can’t meet Jesus in Children’s Ministry. I believe in the other end of the spectrum. I believe children deserve their own service for three reasons.
1. Children should enjoy church
They should love coming to church. Church shouldn’t be a place that children are forced to go to like school or the doctor! The responsibility for this lies with your church. Children’s Ministry should be safe, Biblical, engaging, and fun.
At my old church, we made it mandatory for all children to attend Children’s Ministry. This was often a difficult conversation with the parents the first time, but the kids always loved it. There were so many times when children cried when their parents came to pick them up after the service. They loved Children’s Ministry so much they didn’t want to leave! We had kids bringing their friends from school, bringing their family members (even abuela), and inviting their teachers. We had children that insisted their parents take them to church every week, sometimes the parents didn’t even want to go, but their kids did so they complied. Time at church should be a time that children look forward to the most. My daughter loves our church so much, she can’t wait to go and loves to tell us what her teacher taught her during service.
There is something to be said for an entire family worshiping and learning together. But I’ll tell you this, all those parents in your services with young kids are not worshiping or listening to what you’re saying, they’re making sure their kids are behaving. In essence, parents and their kids are not enjoying this.
2. Children have a huge reach
Children’s Ministry impacts not only the child, but the child’s entire family. This is most of your church. If you have 100 children in your Children’s Ministry every week, that represents parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, and teachers who come into contact with that child on a regular basis. Hundreds of people are in contact with those 100 kids, that’s an entire community. You can best serve this community by serving their children. When someone is kind to my daughter, they have my instant attention and focus. If they’re dismissive, they’ve lost my respect. By having adult only services, you’re being dismissive of the children in your church.
3. You already know age appropriate programming is important
I know you already believe this because that’s how your adult services are setup. You’ve tailored them, either purposefully or unwittingly, to the adults that you have. If your church is mostly older, that’s how you tailored your service. The same if your church is mostly younger. The reason you don’t play nursery rhymes for worship is because you know adults won’t like it, yet you want a three year old to sit through your songs? Don’t be ridiculous. If you had to do that when you were younger, I apologize, but that doesn’t mean that children should suffer now.
Children deserve to have worship and teaching that is age appropriate to them. That’s where they’ll learn and be discipled best. That is where adults in your church can exercise their gifts of worship, teaching, preaching, administration, and a place where leaders can be brought up and molded. Children’s Ministry is also a service to the parents who can enjoy worship and teaching without distraction from their kids or the children of others.
There’s a caveat to this, there always is. The facility situation you’re in can prohibit a dynamic children’s ministry. I completely understand, I’ve had to do some creative planning in my day! Still, don’t let facility challenges stop you from serving your kids best. Be creative, there’s always a solution. I encourage you to think outside the box!