Children in the Worship Service

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josh p's picture

I have no idea what their level of segregation is (I think they have children's church) but I always appreciate how Mark Minnick speaks to the children specifically in his messages. I listen to the Mount Calvary podcasts every week and i am guessing it is probably the Wednesday messages. 

We were really taken aback when we attended our family's Calvary Chapel and were almost flat out told that we had to send our kids out. At the time I was not about to send my kids to children's church at a church that I was not keen on but they were putting some serious pressure. I asked around about it and apparently they are pretty serious about that. 

TOvermiller's picture

josh p wrote:

I always appreciate how Mark Minnick speaks to the children specifically in his messages.

Amen to this example. This replicates what Paul did in Eph. 6:1-3 and Col. 3:20, and it is good homiletics. If any of us will argue for including children in the worship service, etc., we should include them in the preaching. We should talk to them, as we talk to anyone else in the congregation!

Thomas Overmiller
Pastor | StudyGodsWord.com
Blog & Podcast | ShepherdThoughts.com

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I've never been a fan of 'Junior Church', even when Ken and I were leading it during our college years (church involvement was required by the college, and kids' ministries were how we fulfilled that).

With kids of our own, we didn't want them playing games throughout the service in some other room. What our kids learned in SS was how to sing goofy songs, color, use scissors and glue, play Heads-Up 7-Up, and ruin their lunch with treats. We wanted them to hear actual teaching and preaching, be spiritually and intellectually challenged, and to be able to discuss what we heard together.

We experienced different reactions to keeping our kids with us in churches we attended--some were fine with it, others felt it was some sort of indictment against their ministry, especially when they got older and we kept them out of Youth Group classes.

I'm not comfortable in a church that views children as a bother and annoyance. That doesn't mean that kids should be allowed to swing from the ceiling fans either. Parents can be taught how to teach their kids to listen and learn. It's hard work that many churches, IMO, don't seem to have the energy for.

TylerR's picture

Editor

Susan:

The scenario you describe ("what our kids learned in SS was how to sing goofy songs, color, use scissors and glue, play Heads-Up 7-Up, and ruin their lunch with treats") is what draws many Christians to the idea of fully integrated worship. At my church, we used a Junior Church curriculum from Regular Baptist Press that systematically walked through the Bible. They spent two years in the Old Testament. They learned a lot.  

If a church does Junior Church like you described, they ought to be ashamed of themselves, and they're wasting their time. I replaced one Sunday School teacher who didn't want to use a curriculum. She wanted to spend her time reciting a verse or two, then doing crafts with crosses and empty tombs. I replaced her with a good teacher, and we began using RBP's curriculum there, too. The kids went from pasting crosses one week to learning about Pentecost and the New Covenant the week after. Children's bible teaching can be done really well, if you have good people and good curriculum.

I see full integration and pasting crosses as two poles I want to avoid. I think age appropriate kid's bible teaching can be extraordinarily effective and a true means of grace.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

...we used a Junior Church curriculum from Regular Baptist Press that systematically walked through the Bible. They spent two years in the Old Testament. They learned a lot. 

The problem is--this is rare. Churches, in my experience, use the Warm Body Method to staff their Sunday Schools. 

If you can do Sunday School and do it well, where kids are being challenged spiritually and intellectually by mature, qualified teachers, then great. If not, you shouldn't do it at all. Children are not guinea pigs for immature Christians to practice on. And while I'm on this soapbox, ditto nursing homes.

That's my story and I'm stickin' to it. 

TylerR's picture

Editor

I agree with what you're saying. I will close by saying Regular Baptist Press has some really good curriculum! 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Bert Perry's picture

Susan, your comment on the "warm body method" hit paydirt on me.  I head up my church's Sunday Schools, and suffice it to say I'm working to get beyond "warm bodies."  I've got some volunteers who really get it, too, praise God.

(gracious rebuke/admonition well taken!)

One thing that bothered me last Sunday, as my wife & I taught kindergarten SS, was that the RBP materials somewhat missed the Gospel in a passage--the book of Ruth--that begs for it.  OK, they're kindergartners, all that, I get it, but I wonder if we could engage them on a slightly higher level.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

TOvermiller's picture

Susan R wrote:

The problem is--this is rare. Churches, in my experience, use the Warm Body Method to staff their Sunday Schools. 

I am continually challenged and motivated by my obligation, as a pastor, to equip church members to do the work of the ministry, especially the work of teaching the Word of God to others (including to children), whatever it takes. Churches face many challenges "staffing" ministry roles. The solution is not a simple one.

Some Common Needs

  • Need more members
  • Need members who are willing to minister
  • Need members who are qualified and capable to minister
  • Need members who are devoted to ministering
  • Need time and resources to motivate and to train members

The "warm body method," as you call it, is not always the result of pastoral laziness, but may often be the result of dire necessity. May God grant me and all of us (especially pastors) the grace to devote ourselves to the work of understanding the needs and condition of our congregation, doing whatever it takes to motivate and equip them to be more than "warm bodies," but saints equipped to serve effectively - serving our children and in every other way.

Thomas Overmiller
Pastor | StudyGodsWord.com
Blog & Podcast | ShepherdThoughts.com

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I'm prone to snark, so by the term "Warm Body Method", I don't mean any disrespect to those Christians who love the Lord and want to serve, but just aren't qualified to teach, whether in knowledge or experience or ability.

However, the method of choice in many churches for finding workers is those who raise their hands. Period. That's what I mean by "Warm Body Method."

"If you have a pulse, we have a class!"

Ok, I'll stop now.

I think my biggest issue is when I get the feeling that kids don't matter quite as much, so it's OK to give an immature Christian some ministry experience by letting them teach a class of kids. And ditto nursing homes--they are all going to fall asleep anyway, right? Since it's all unpaid volunteers, the idea of qualifying for such a task is seldom even considered.

Bert- I think kids can and should be presented with challenging material. It's not the truth that is difficult for them to grasp, but our presentation style and vocabulary that leaves them unengaged.

Crystal's picture

As church planters, we are not yet holding a typical Sunday morning service. Our family is attending another church in the area Sunday mornings.  We have appreciated how they approach children greatly.  There is a nursery provided for children ages 3 and under.  Parents feel free to use or not use the nursery as they desire.  Children ages 4 thru first-grade sit in the service for all of the announcements, "fighter verse", reading of the passage to be studied in the service and singing.  When the sermon begins those children are excused to a junior church of sorts where the teachers go through the same passage of scripture as what the adults go through during the sermon.  It is approached on a more kid-friendly level and a few wiggle breaks are introduced.  The goal of the time is to get them used to sitting still and paying attention for longer and longer amounts of time.  Children in 2nd grade and up stay in the main service with everyone else.  There is a cry room available for anyone that chooses to not use the nursery but needs a second to calm little one down while still being able to hear the sermon.  Children's noises are common during the sermon but no one seems to mind.   

With the Church Plant we are currently doing Bible Studies various nights of the week and just started doing a Church History class Sunday afternoons.  We have no nursery.  Space and staffing are the main reasons.  We have a table set up off to the side with quiet toys and coloring things that little ones can use either there, or in the seats with their parents.  During the Bible Studies, our own children participate in the study-answering or even asking questions.  It is amazing how much they listen and learn when you would think they are just drawing pictures in their notebooks. 

Greg Long's picture

At our church because we have so many people from the community visit our services, and they are in many cases unfamiliar with how to behave in church, it would be a major, major distraction if all children were in the church services every week (plus our services are 90 minutes long including 50 minutes preaching so that makes it more of a challenge).

Our Pastor of Children's Ministries has just switched our Kids Church program to use The Gospel Project curriculum so that kids are being grounded in the Gospel and in the storyline of Scripture, so he doesn't just view Kids Church as childcare.

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Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

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