Wanna start a fight?
Man. I thought politics was the hot-button topic of our day. I was severely mistaken. Children’s Church seems to be a much more passionate issue within my friendship circle.
I am part of a Clergy Coaching Network. The issue of Children’s Church came up recently. The question was should children be separated or should they worship with their parents? A wide variety of opinions surfaced. Angry words were spoken. Insistence and resistance came from both sides. Every now and then, someone tried to lay down the law in hopes of ending the argument. (I suspect those “someones” were Children’s Ministers looking at their job security.) Then, others reminded us that Christ would not have been able to feed 5,000+ people had the boy not been part of the teaching/worship experience shared in scripture.
My children went to Children’s Church. Well, until we were told that they had memorized all the material and were reciting it as the teachers tried to teach. We were strongly encouraged to take them into the worship service with us since they were being disruptive. <LOL Such a great story!>
My grandchildren didn’t have to do anything they didn’t want to do. <wink> They opted to stay in “big church” with my husband and I. As far as I was concerned, I left my small boys crying at the doorstep believing they had to go into their extended session class. That’s what we used to call it. My boys went to Sunday School and then were moved to extended session. Extended session is where Children’s Church was birthed. I vowed to never leave a crying grandchild. If my grandchildren wanted to stay with me, so be it. Now that they are teenagers, I just want them to want to go to church. Period.
Sadly, the church world decides that when we determine what works for us, it must work for everyone. We decide parents should go along with what is offered for the children in order to comply. How many times have we turned around and stared at the crying toddler’s parents wondering, “Now why didn’t they take that kid to the nursery so that we aren’t being interrupted by crying?”
Truth is my generation didn’t think about extended session or Children’s Church. Families sat together. Families worshiped together. I learned to draw a pretty amazing sailboat and puppy dog sitting by my mother in church. I learned to count by counting the pages in the hymnal before I wised up to the fact that the pages were already numbered. (Pretty slick, Mom!) I memorized my first bible verse sitting in church with my parents and siblings: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me. Bless His Holy Name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.” Psalm 103:1-2
I’m 60 years old and I can still recite the verse.
One size does not fit all. I suspect the reason many college-aged kids drop out of church all together is not because of God, but because of the church’s rules and regulations. Children’s Church or not, take your kids to church, please. A better idea might be to ask each child individually, “Do you want to sit in church with me or go to Children’s Church?” Not going to church at all is the only real problem I see.
I’m bracing myself now for the hate mail to come since I opened this can of worms.