Children Do Not Belong In Church…Or Do They? Part 2

You can find Part 1 of this series here!

Should church be a place where family members go their separate ways, or should families worship and learn together?

A few months ago, my family visited a semi-large Baptist Church in the area.  Creation Ministries International was speaking that morning, and I wanted my children to listen to a speech about creation v. evolution.  We arrived with only a few minutes to spare.  During praise and worship I glanced around the sanctuary, and noticed that a certain group of people were sorely missing.  Children.  A leading homeschool curriculum company was speaking to the church body, but the students that they usually minister to were in their “children’s church” instead of listening to the speech.  That was a bit shocking to me.  Babies were also strangely absent.  Our baby was actually the only noticeable child under one in the sanctuary.  Sure enough, when we were walking to our van tons of babies and children emerged with their parents.  Why were they not in service with their parents, especially during a Creation presentation?

Children’s churches are very commonplace in our area of the country.  It’s basically assumed that parent’s will utilize these programs for their children and infants.  This way parents can listen to the sermon “without distraction,” and children will be taught “on their level.”  Everybody wins, right?  Where did these notions come from in the first place however?

Children’s Churches (or Children’s Ministries) were first derived as a form of Sunday School.  The idea of Sunday School was originally devised to keep poor, uneducated children from delinquency.  Children’s Churches are modern institutions which are now largely modeled after the public education system.  Classes are most often age segregated, and include “fun” activities that at times do not have any value in teaching our children the ways of God.

I asked this question in Part 1 of this series, and I’m going to ask it again here.  Is this biblical?

Children’s Churches send the message that God’s Word isn’t sufficient as is, and it must be taught down to various age groups to create “understanding.”

Children’s Churches subtlety promote the idea that children are a distraction that do not belong in the sanctuary.  We are creating a generation of adults who view children as such by hiding them away elsewhere.

Children’s Churches separate family units.

Children’s Churches  are not mentioned in the Bible.  Wouldn’t God’s inspired Word mention this if it was important?  Wouldn’t the need to “teach down” be mentioned if it is necessary?

Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.

Deuteronomy 12:32

Every word of God is pure; he is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.  Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.

Proverbs 30:5-6

…that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other.

1 Corinthians 4:6

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.

Revelation 22:18

As a whole, these verses are speaking of physically adding or subtracting actual verses from the Bible.  Shouldn’t we believe however, that all we need to know about holding church services is already written in His word?  Wouldn’t instructions pertaining to the leading Bride of Christ be fully sufficient in scripture?  ( I have heard the argument that, for example, church secretaries, aren’t mentioned in scripture either.   Is the position of a secretary wrong to fill in a church?  I’m not sure of that answer.  I do believe that in terms of leading the flock, the Bible is absolutely sufficient.)

My children attended Children’s Church many years ago.  When I ask them what they remember it always involves either food or playground antics.  My desire now is that our children grow by listening to God ordained ministers with me by their side. Is this an inconvenience for me at times?  Yes.  I spend a lot of my time in church attempting to quietly entertain my toddler and infant.  I miss parts of sermons at times due to my baby’s fussiness.  There is one thing I’ve learned through this however.  It’s not about me.  Raising children isn’t always pretty, and at times it’s downright hard.  But in the end, it will be worth any petty sacrifices that I might need to make.

 

caabyouthgroup

College students are leaving the church in record numbers.  Could this be because the “fun” and “fellowship” that they have been having all of these years hasn’t really taught them what they need to know about their relationship with our Lord?  This documentary is eye opening: Divided The Movie: Is Modern Youth Ministry Multiplying or Dividing the Church?   Youth Pastor’s (and Children’s Church leaders) are not a position even mentioned in the Bible…these youth ministers are actually fulfilling the role that God has given to parents.  This in turn makes it so easy for parents to leave their Biblically mandated role in someone else’s hands.

Benefits of Worshiping and Learning as a Family

  • When we worship and learn together as a family, us parents will know exactly what was taught.  Throughout the remainder of the week we can discuss truths learned during the sermon.  If our children are in a separate class during this time, we really don’t know exactly what was discussed.  We will be unequipped to dig deeper into the lesson throughout the week.
  • When we worship and learn together as a family, our children will learn rules of respect in church at an early age.  This will help them in the long run.
  • When we worship and learn together as a family, we are combatting the falsehood that Christianity needs to be changed to “meet” our children right where they are in life.  As adults these same children expect Christianity to “meet” them where they are.  They desire to hear messages that make them feel better about themselves instead of teaching them how to better serve our Lord.

My prayer is that families will begin to dig deeper into the Word of God when deciding how to learn and worship.

Next week I will be addressing several comments and questions that I received in regards to Part 1 of this series. 

Be blessed!

~Nicole

Written by Nicole

NICOLE CRONE enjoys writing encouragement for moms in which God is glorified at her blog, Children are a Blessing. She is wife to Rusty, and mom to eight sweet children. Nicole has been a homeschool mom for thirteen years, and is currently a member of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew. When Nicole isn’t homeschooling, you can find her writing, reading, sewing, or blogging at www.childrenareablessing.org. She is active on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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About Nicole

NICOLE CRONE enjoys writing encouragement for moms in which God is glorified at her blog, Children are a Blessing. She is wife to Rusty, and mom to eight sweet children. Nicole has been a homeschool mom for thirteen years, and is currently a member of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew. When Nicole isn’t homeschooling, you can find her writing, reading, sewing, or blogging at www.childrenareablessing.org. She is active on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

61 Thoughts on “Children Do Not Belong In Church…Or Do They? Part 2

  1. Diane on July 21, 2013 at 9:39 pm said:

    Amen!!!!!!!! 🙂

    • Anita Parnell on September 17, 2014 at 11:51 pm said:

      I believe children should be in an environment on Sunday morning where they can learn at their level of understanding. Not sitting in a room where they do not understand what is being said or done. Not play with toys and listen to worldly music, etc. They should be where a structured class has been outlined and laid out, where they will get the most out of the 1-1/2 hr. with their Bible teacher and helpers presenting the Word of God. Of course, the classes must be split-up according to ages. The ages 4-6 should be together. 7-9 should be together; 10 thru 12 together. Children get bored easily when you do not keep the Bible Lesson exciting. They will want to come back the next Sunday and the next, etc.
      unfortunately you have not had the right person to present God’s Word to the children. Adults must be and has to be trained how to present the Bible Lesson (not story) to the child at their level or understanding. Not everyone is qualified to teach children. God must call you to teach a child. It is quite different from teaching adults. A scripture that is taught to an adult (at an adult level) and present it to the child, but at the child’s level of understanding, and when you discuss the topic, the child will tell you how they understood the Bible lesson. When a child, age 3 thru 6, sits in the sanctuary with their parents, the message is presented over the pulpit, do that child really understand what is being preached or taught? Absolutely not. It’s like taking a kindergarten and placing that child in a 12 grade setting. They do not understand. When you train up a child in the he should go, that is both naturally as well as spiritually. Placing them in a setting where they can understand that Jesus loves them more than anyone else in the whole world. They need to know why. They need to know how did sin come into the world. What caused sin. These and so many more very important things they need to know. I have been working with children, ages 4 thru 12 since 1995. I had to learn how to teach children, after being called by God. I live each day of my life to tell some child or children about Jesus. I pray that God will enlighten your understanding about this very important subject.

      God Bless You.

      Anita

      • Nicole on October 29, 2014 at 9:26 pm said:

        Hi Anita! In scripture, it clearly states that God is the one who grants understanding, not man. The Bible even says that the gospel is “foolishness” when presented to adults if God has not granted the understanding. The teacher, or teachers training rather, is not mentioned in scripture. My family stands on these Biblical truths. May God bless you too! 🙂

        • You are reading too much into certain verses. Saying nurseries are a sin is a form of legalism. That is your rule not God’s. You need to be respectful of a church’s culture and not be dismissive of others’ needs. If your children are a distraction then you need to be helpful and not take on the attitude of the world needs to revolve around your children because they are a blessing. Focus on blessing others.

          • Thank you for your taking the time to comment…I’m certainly not saying that nurseries are a form of sin. However, integrating children into the church, as welcomed in the main church service, is the example that I see in scripture. Blessings to you!

    • I disagree with most of what you said. Church service is as developmentally appropriate for early childhood as a college class. It is not that Scripture is being changed, it is the presentation. You wouldn’t present a chemistry lesson to a kindergartner the way you would someone in college. If you haven’t noticed, children do not pay attention to sermons. A baby can’t be trained to be quiet during church, that is a ridiculous expectation. Removing a noisy child in church is being respectful to those around you. If people don’t feel respected in church and distracting others is ok to you, then i wouldn’t want to go to your church. It is called good manners. Honestly, what you are writing is a lot of fluff on tolerance. If you want to know what your child learned, ask the teacher or better yet, ask your kids and “dig deeper”. I don’t think you are teaching respect to a baby by letting it cry in church. It isn’t about you, I agree. But you are not doing your children any service either. Parents and children should work together too, but usually fathers and mothers don’t take their kids to work in order to not separate the family unit. I don’t think keeping children in church and expecting them to pay attention to a sermon is what Jesus meant by letting the children go to Him. The ideas you presented are pretty irrational and absurd.

      • Of course noisy children should be removed Laura. That is what I do. The point is, you are acting as if the environment, or people, are who does the saving and teaching. While in fact, it is God. The Bible is quite clear that God is who gives understanding, and that the gospel message is “foolishness” to ANYONE (young or old) that the Lord has not yet called.

  2. We have always gone to church as a family even years before it was done in any church we knew of. Thanks for sharing. I am linked right after you on Living Proverbs 31 Linkup. Blessings!!

    • I can understand the value in going to church as a family. Where I see a problem is when the mom has to struggle with 2-3 active children on her own and the dad stays home. I can see why the moms are frustrated. Wouldn’t the kids be confused as to the importance of church if Dad doesn’t attend?

  3. Sheri on July 22, 2013 at 6:38 am said:

    Hi. I found your blog through your posts on modesty and have really enjoyed reading further. I very much appreciate this series on having children in church and totally agree with you. Currently my husband is a senior pastor of a Southern Baptist Church and we do not have children’s church (nor do we have a Sunday Evening Children’s Church). We offer Sunday School and a huge Wed. Evening children’s program. There has been much discussion regarding our lack of children’s church and my response is always that we (my husband and I) feel that children’s church divides the family during worship and we feel that it is so important for families to worship together. Also, how will children learn how to do things such as sit still, take notes, sing the songs, etc.; things that are important to a worship service experience. Anyway, I just wanted to pass along to you that you encouraged me and you’re not alone in your desire to have your children with you in worship. Mine are getting a bit older (10 and 12) and the “thing” is for them to sit with their friends and not me…needless to say my two kids are still sitting with Mom during worship….and yes I know…I am so mean 🙂

    Thanks
    Sheri

  4. I wish this post could be seen by every church in the world. It’s spot on. You go girl…keep ’em coming!

  5. There are a lot of places where I think the Catholic church falls short in youth ministry, but this is one area where I think they are doing OK. Yes, there are “cry rooms” in some churches, but families remain together for the entire Mass – there’s no “leading out” of the children, or “dropping them off before.” Sometimes, yes, it is hard with toddlers, but I agree there is a lot of merit in everyone learning the same lesson.

  6. There are a lot of places where I think the Catholic church falls short in youth ministry, but this is one area where I think they are doing OK. Yes, there are “cry rooms” in some churches, but families remain together for the entire Mass – there’s no “leading out” of the children, or “dropping them off before.” Sometimes, yes, it is hard with toddlers, but I agree there is a lot of merit in everyone learning the same lesson. What a child doesn’t understand, the parent can explain, but often it’s my child’s perspective that teaches me!

  7. About 6 years ago, we started feeling the conviction to have our children in corporate worship with us. At that time, we had 5 children. Since our church had grown quite a bit, the leaders encouraged the 100+ kids to go downstairs to children’s church to make room for more adults. When we started keeping our kids with us, it got to the point that we finally had to leave and find a more accepting church—our quiet and well-behaved children were not wanted upstairs—simply because they were taking up a chair that an adult could be sitting in. Now our family of 11 takes up the entire front row at the church we’re in, but all ages are welcome to worship together there and it’s such a blessing! 🙂

    I have a weekly Homemaking Party and would love to have you join up, if you’d like. Here’s the link to this week’s party: http://www.hopeineveryseason.com/2013/07/our-library-day-and-homemaking-party.html

    Blessings,
    Mrs. Sarah Coller

  8. How beautifully said. Thank you for this great post!!

  9. THANK YOU for putting this post together! I will be sharing it often!

  10. Excellent post, Nicole! Thank you so much for sharing and hopefully opening the eyes of so many that are blinded to the truths you so graciously and gently shared here. God bless you and the work you are doing with your children. 🙂

  11. I wrote about this topic recently too because we have 3 very young children and we’re constantly fighting Satan on Sundays as it’s easier to stay home than go. There’s no children’s church, just a nursery. Yet, all my friends go to churches where there is children’s church, and I get so jealous that my husband and I can’t sit and actually hear a sermon. But posts like yours remind me why we’re doing it. Thanks! I’m a new follower.

    http://www.growinginhisglory.com/2012/11/5-reasons-why-we-go-to-church-when-its.html

  12. Sarah on July 23, 2013 at 1:30 pm said:

    Hello,
    I am not usually one to comment on blog posts, but there are some thoughts I feel “compelled” to share! 🙂

    In the book of Nehemiah, chapter 8 verses 1-3 indicate that there was no division when the Law of the LORD was read- the people “gathered as one man”, both men and women, and “all who could understand what they heard” to hear the reading of the Law. Children understand a lot more than adults give them credit for- (trust me, I’m an elementary school teacher!) and are capable of understanding what is going on in the service. Also, if you have Children’s Church, when/where/how are you training your little ones how to behave in the assembly and the importance and reasons for the acts of worship?

    I am putting myself out there a little bit by saying this, but when I have little ones that want to come and sit with “Miss Sarah” during services, they know that they need to bring their Bibles, and something to “take notes” with for the sermon. Before services begin, I talk about what we are going to do, why we worship, and how important it is that we sing and pay attention, because we showing God we love Him. When they sit with me I give them each a songbook and help them find the songs, and have them sing with me. When it comes time for the sermon, they will “take notes” (for really little ones I will usually have them practice writing “God” or “Jesus” or something of the sort). While this may seem like “too much”, it has amazed me that keeping children actively engaged WITH you during the service is actually much easier than keeping them distracted during the service! And I have even been able to take notes myself!

    (Caveat: I am not married, nor do I have children, and I do realize that having someone else’s kids sit with you is different (especially if they got the whole “I-expect-you-to-REALLY-behave-properly-since-you’re-not-sitting-with-us!” talk before the service). However, it does encourage me to realize that training in the assembly CAN be done, and NEEDS to be, if we expect our children to remain faithful to the Lord.

    Okay, time for the single-girl-who-thinks-she-knows-it-all to hush up now!

    Good article/post! You have made several excellent arguments, and have given me more points to ponder on this issue!

    • Thanks for saying that, Sarah – and don’t be afraid to speak because God called you (for now) to Singleness – it is also a noble calling! (One shared by our Lord & by St. Paul, among others).

    • This is beautiful and a perfect example of what I said on part 1 about a group of people (we already have people serving in children’s church so the position is already filled and many more might be willing to step up) coming alongside those children who are part of the bus ministry and don’t have a parent to sit with or have a single parent who is serving during worship, or two parents who are serving during worship. You are beautifully showing how it could be done. Thank you for this.

      • Sarah on July 26, 2013 at 9:21 pm said:

        Thank you Miss Kari and Miss Anna! It is beneficial for both parties- the parents get an opportunity to have help with their children, and it gives us “single” people experience/practice for when we have children of our own!Sar

  13. In our Orthodox Churches, we have no “Children’s Church” tradition- Church is the proper place for All Christians.

    In our Tradition, we see Church as Worship rather than education. We are to Worship God with all our Heart, Mind & Strength – not *just* our Minds. The Greatest Commandment is Love -not education.

    So, our concern with children isn’t just “teaching to their level” but having them Worship & practice their Faith & Love with us. When we read the Scriptures, it is quite clear that Worship is something children are good at : )

    Likewise, those with adults with learning difficulties or disabilities of various kinds are just as able to Worship God & to Love as the PhD sitting next to them.

    We do see the Christian education of our Children & adults as very important – but we do not see Education as the only – or even primary – goal of the Liturgy.

  14. I’m neither pro nor anti children in church – I actually would prefer what I had growing up, which was a mix of the two. As a young child (0-4) my parents gave me the choice to stay in the nursery the whole time they were in Sunday School and “Big” church or to come with them to big church. Once I got to kindergarten I went to Sunday school with my peers and “big” church with my parents. I heard the sermon and was able to participate in corporate worship in a meaningful way with all the ages of people in our church, but I also got Sunday School time with my peers where I was able to build some life long friendships with kids that shared my beliefs (not always the case of my friends at public school – though most of them did go to other churches regularly). Since I plan to homeschool my own kids, I’d like them to have that time with their peers as well. It’s hard to really make friends with anyone while just sitting and listening to the sermon and participating in worship – you need those Sunday school, small groups, etc. fellowship times to really build the church community too. There’s got to be a balance.

    • Nicole on July 23, 2013 at 7:00 pm said:

      Thanks for your thoughts! For our family, we encourage “friendship” during fellowship time after church since Sunday School is technically for learning. We also think that “peer” friendships are overrated in our culture. “Balance” isn’t a biblical concept either. Thank you for sharing though!

      • I would contend that balance is very much a biblical concept – though that particular word is not used. Paul encourages not to be drunk on too much wine, for instance. Jesus told the pharisees that they needed to lay off on their legalism about Sabbath when it came to healing and helping others. Throughout the Bible and especially in the gospels you see a call for balance and moderation. For loving God with all our hearts, but not being legalistic with our brothers and sisters in Christ. For living holy lives because Jesus loves us and we Him, not because we are forced or guilted into it. So I do think that “balance” – at least in the way I mean it, is very much a biblical concept. While I certainly agree that peer relationships are over-rated in our culture – they do still have value. I would hope that through homeschooling my kids would have a good grasp of both peer relationships and friendships as well as interacting with their elders and those younger than them. While peer relationships are overrated – I’m sure you would likely agree that most (though not all) of your closest friends, even within family integrated churches, are people who are in a similar life stage as you. I certainly have friends and mentors who are older than me – but my closest friends are still my peers. And, in fact, even though I’m now grown, the lack of small groups, etc. with people my own age at my church has made it difficult for me to build relationships and really feel at home – despite being involved in ministries of the church and making an effort to talk with people after services.

  15. I’m really enjoying this series and your grace regarding this matter. As I said in my last comment this is HARD for our church simply because of all the kids we bring in that don’t come with their parents.

    I think though if it is possible to find a balance our church has. The kids stay in through singing, 10 yrs + always stay in no matter who they come or don’t come with, and on special Sunday’s when most everyone’s parent’s are in attendance all the kids stay in. In fact we really do try to keep the kids in service as much as possible. No it’s not ideal but praise the Lord these kids, who wouldn’t be in church otherwise are hearing about Jesus.

    As far as my family goes, we also attend church on Sunday nights and this post has convicted me to start training my 4 year old to sit with us. I don’t think I’ll be able to tackle (proverbially speaking) my 3 year old until her sister is fully trained 🙂 Maybe this is the happy compromise right for our family’s situation.

  16. Jenifer on July 24, 2013 at 9:19 am said:

    Thank you for always sharing your honest opinions about these subjects. I believe most of what you said . However I would have to disagree somewhat on the youth minister comment. My husband is a youth minister and out of 15 students only 2 of them has parents who bring them to church. So my question would be, how can we expect these youth to be taught biblical knowledge when their parents have declined to participate in church? I have seen many teenagers stand and give their testimony at church and nearly everyone said that had it not been for the guidance and teachings that God spoke through my husband during those ” youth classes” they wouldn’t be where they are today. I agree 100% that parents are responsible for bringing their children up to know God but sadly we do not live in a world where all parents believe this. I think it’s a wonderful blessing to have these people (youth/children workers that would step up and say “I care for these kids and if they come to church by themselves I’m going to show the what the Word says about Jesus”. Anywho I just wanted to share my thoughts. I love your blog! Your a blessing! 🙂

    • Nicole on July 24, 2013 at 9:52 am said:

      Thanks for sharing! My thoughts on that would be if a family brought a friend along they should sit with that family in the main sermon. If the child is old enough to drive them self, then they are certainly old enough to sit in the sanctuary without their parents. If converted, these Christians would then be under the guidance of the main pastor. : ) That’s the best scenario that I can think of biblically.

      • Although I wouldn’t say there is a “main pastor” biblically speaking—There is supposed to be a plurality of elders leading the church. 🙂 Youth “pastors” are another form of an “elder” just filling a different need in the church using their gifts. “Elder” is just an unpopular word nowadays, so “pastor” is more culturally relevant, lol.

  17. Thanks so much for writing the blog about children not being in the church for corporate worship. Even though my husband and I attend a satellite campus in a neighboring local community. We see Children in the Worship. It is so nice to see some children in the corporate worship. A blessing in fact.
    I grew up with the choice to go either to big church or children’s church. Yet as we grew older, we were expected to be with the youth group in corporate worship with the youth group.

  18. Robin on July 24, 2013 at 5:22 pm said:

    Amen!!!! Children’s ministry, youth ministry, etc is unbiblical. Actually, most modern churches are unbiblical. We’ve left your typical modern church and house church. And no we don’t have a “secretary.” I recommend all Christians do the same since Scripture reveals there will be a great falling away and Satan transfers himself into an angel of life.

  19. You make a lot of great points in here. We switched churches at the beginning of the year – and all children age 3 and up are in service with us (for singing and the message- the whole thing). It was an adjustment for us and our preschooler, but a good adjustment. There is also a room in the back if you need to use it b/c your child/baby is having a hard time. (A lot of people do bring their babies in, but the nursery is an option.) On Wed. they have Awana and there is still Sunday school before service. I think it is a great balance!

  20. shannon on July 25, 2013 at 4:57 pm said:

    Hi Nicole. Found you from “Raising Mighty Arrows” linkup. I have always been neither for nor against a seperated childrens church but am very against churches that make children go to a children’s church or nursery. I love having my children with me in services but I have some questions that maybe you can answer if you’ve been doing this longer (I’m learning by trial and error!). 1. Any tips on keeping those little ones as quiet as possible around age 9months-18months? I’ve found that to be the hardest? 2. What do you think of a nursery? I keep my children with me even as babies but wondered your thoughts. 3. Any tips on helping other mothers with little ones without seeming pushy? My sister in law came to a service and she and her children are not used to sitting still at all. I had to watch my two little ones but her’s were running around. She felt so uncomfortable! 4. What about keeping children entertained or having someone to sit with whose parents don’t come? Thanks so much! So glad to read this series!

  21. My Jenna, who was 7 at the time, was saved in our revival last fall. She has been in church and under the preached word her entire life. When the man of God preached the spirt fell and he abruptly called for an invitation song. The spirit was real and Jenna, on her own accord, moved with fear and trembling. No one had to dumb it down for her and no one had to tell her that it was The Lord calling her to repentance. She went and prayed until she was satisfied. It was between her and God. I am so thankful that we have a church to witness God’s power and where the children are welcome to be right there with all of God’s children.
    Blessings to you and thanks for the post

  22. Kathryn Andrews on July 28, 2013 at 2:28 pm said:

    Well, you know how I feel about children in church. My whole crew are sitting in the worship service every week (except the occasional sickness/providential hindrance).

    I am blessed to have grown up in a Reformed Bible-teaching, family oriented church culture. I sat with my parents in church, and either took notes or copied Bible verses quietly. I think learning to sit and develop some self-control is a valuable life-skill.

    My oldest 3 used to go to the nursery until about 2-3 years old. When my 4th was born, he didn’t take very well to being in nursery anyways, so I kept him with me in my sling. He would look around during the singing and reading, and fall asleep around the time the sermon started, waking (and needing to go out for a change) towards the end of the service. I didn’t start out of some great philosophical epiphany, but once I started I realized I enjoyed it very much.

    One of the ladies at church asked me once (conversationally, no accusatory tone or anything) why I kept him with me. I told her I had nothing against nursery or anyone serving there, I just found it more helpful to me to keep him with me, quiet and happy, than to constantly be in and out with a crying, stressed out, miserable baby who found “going to church” the most unpleasant experience of his little life so far. Not that we never had weeks where he cried anyways, or had to go out of the service, there were plenty of those, but it worked well for us to stay together!

    I read a really great article once by Geoffrey Thomas about this topic. It’s encouraging, and challenges churches/families to worship and proclaim Christ rather than seek to “prevent boredom” at any cost.
    http://trinityrbc.org/?p=453

    • Nicole on July 28, 2013 at 2:36 pm said:

      Thanks for sharing Kathryn! We have very much enjoyed visiting with your church family this past month.

  23. Faith on July 29, 2013 at 2:39 pm said:

    Hi Nicole, I read your post about a week ago and have been thinking about it ever since. Some of your comments just don’t sit well with me. Growing up in predominantly black churches, children’s church and nurseries were rare for my family. My siblings and I were always in the main service. The first time my husband and I were “gently encouraged” to send our children to the nursery or children’s church was when we visited a predominantly white church. They were adamant, so we had to very clearly state that we are visiting and will be keeping our children with us. Our home church offers kid services as options, the first black church I’ve been a member of that does this, and we take advantage of them most Sundays.
    However, what bothers me by your post and some of your comments is this notion that it’s unbiblical to have nurseries or children’s churches. Where in the world does this come from? Why are we developing theology from our personal preferences? Point to one verse that states designing classes for younger children is a sin. Anyone can interpret a verse to mean that, but it really doesn’t. Many of these verses give examples of what Israel did when they assembled together to hear God’s Word. But not everything Israel did directly applies to the church today. Some verses are there to show us God’s character, not to make a direct promise or command.
    Are the services teaching children the pure Word of God? How to read It, memorize It, and, most importantly, apply It? If Jesus is being lifted up and children are lives are being affected, how can this be considered a sin? Please just say that it’s your preference for families to stay together. And there is value to that. I don’t think families should always be separated while at church, but what about those families that are very involved and hold responsibility at their church? My husband is in the choir, and I volunteer in the nursery once a month with my youngest son. My father is a pastor now and has always been either teaching a class or playing the piano at church, while my mother is on the praise team. They came to church to serve. That should be the mentality of all of us in the Body. How can I use the gifts God has given me to build His Kingdom and serve His people? Not just at work or at home, but at church as well. A lot of us go to church just to be fed, but not really to work. That’s why every church can narrow it down to their faithful few (10% for larger churches, 10 people for smaller churches) who do everything.
    The last thing the Body of Christ needs is more division. While in children’s church, my kids are reading the Word, taking notes, learning to sit still and pay attention. And the many times that we do worship together as a family, they are more than able to follow the sermon and find the passages in their Bibles. Worshipping as a family in song and Bible study are daily privileges. We want our children to equate church not with just what it can give me, but what can I give back? How can I serve while being fed by God’s Word and participating in corporate worship? This is our preference. We certainly don’t think it’s unbiblical for families to sit and worship together, since we do quite often. But let’s major on the majors: How can we reach that lost person/child/family who walks in those doors every Sunday but doesn’t have a personal, thriving relationship with Jesus Christ? Eternal security, whether achieved from a pastor’s sermon or a youth worker’s lesson, is all that matters.

    • Nicole on July 29, 2013 at 2:49 pm said:

      Hello! First of all, “unbiblical” means “not biblical.” You will not find a verse in the Bible that mandates or even mentions Children’s Church. That means that Children’s Church is not biblical since it’s not in the Bible. Shouldn’t our churches be governed and executed by using only Biblical mandates? It is not a matter of my preference.

      We have modeled Children’s Churches after humanist public education…this is wrong. Families are worshipping apart from one another. This is not Biblical. This is not of God. I’m standing firm unless scripturally I am proven otherwise.

      God bless!

  24. Faith on July 29, 2013 at 7:13 pm said:

    Thank you for your quick response, Nicole! While I fully understand what “unbiblical” means, the tone in your posts implied sinful, not just “not biblical”. The use of phrases like “This is not of God” and “This is wrong” when it comes to children’s church is where my problem lies. Yes, there are no verses that state children should have their own classes, but there are also no verses that state it’s wrong. Instead of concluding that we know for sure that God is not pleased with this, simply present the benefits of families worshipping together. God bless you as well!

  25. Again, excellent, Nicole! You are blessing the socks off of so many of us as you continue to tackle this polarizing topic! Bless you and thank you so much for linking this up.

  26. Charity on August 9, 2013 at 4:51 am said:

    Kind of screwy logic. “Not in the Bible” is not the same as unbiblical, which in common usage refers to things that go against scripture. If we use your definition and logic, then it is unbiblical for you to be writing this blog since blogging is “not in the Bible.” Something not in the Bible is actually called extra-biblical (which can be confusing because it makes it sound like it is superduper biblical), not unbiblical. But of course the real question isn’t whether the Binle mentions blogging; it is whether writing a blog goes against scripture. And so Faith’s point about not theologizing a personal preference seems on point. The real question isn’t whether the Bible mentions Children’s Church; it is whether a Children’s Church is ungodly. Nothing in scripture says that is necessarily is. If we want to talk about stuff that isn’t in the Bible yet is part of many modern American churches, it would be a long list. Does your church use air conditioning? Have padded seats? Use PowerPoint? Meet on Sunday? Have indoor plumbing? Someone–not me–could very well argue that all of this is “unbiblical,” right? (“The family that sweats and prays together stays together,” or something like that.) That would be a narrow, short-sighted, legalistic reading of Scripture. And, in any case, if you want to look at how the Bible talks about separation of family members in the church, looking at Old Testament laws, etc. about who could enter the various parts of the Temple would be a good start.

    • Nicole on August 9, 2013 at 9:55 am said:

      Hello Charity,

      Regarding actual church services, the Bible is clear about the positions to be held, the orders of worship, etc. Adding to these positions is unbiblical, or “extrabiblical” if you would like to call it that. Blogging doesn’t fall into this category. Christians are to spread God’s Word to the ends of the earth (Matthew 16:15 and 28:19). Blogging is a way to do this in this age.

      In my church, we have a scripture reading and exhortations from the men in the church, prayer time, a time when both spiritual songs and psalms are sung, a sermon, and a benediction. We partake of the Lord’s Supper every other week. As far as the meeting on Sunday, some believe that tradition began in the early church to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. Also 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 and Acts 20:7 speak of meeting on the first day of the week (Sunday). We meet in a rented facility as to not accrue debt for a building. We have two elders. I’m not saying that my church is perfect, but we do try to line up our services with the guidelines given in the Bible. I’ve never seen a scripture concerning “The family that sweats and prays together, stays together.” Your argument concerning separation of family regarding who is allowed to enter the temple in the Old Testament doesn’t hold any water concerning the New Testament church.

      Blessings to you if you decide to further research this topic. Believe me, it would be easier to send my children to a different room during service than to keep them with myself. This is not a personal preference, but a conviction.

  27. I agree with you whole-heartedly on this issue. Our children stay in with us because that’s what we see happening amongst God’s people throughout Scripture. My view is that if Jesus said to let the little children come to Him, and that if He put a little child among them and told the crowd to accept God like that child did, then who are we to do any different? Thankfully, our tiny 15-person church supports us on this!

    I wonder if many people struggle with this idea because they see church as just being those 2 hours on Sunday morning? So if you miss it because the baby’s fussing, or you have to spend the sermon whispering explanations into the 6-year-old’s ear, then it’s a really big deal, because you have “missed church”. Whereas if you look at the New Testament, especially the book of Acts, the church is the people, and so every time they met together they could worship God and encourage each other and talk about spiritual things. That way, even if the Sunday morning slot dedicated to worship and teaching is taken up with nursing and discipline, you don’t miss out, because the fellowship and worship continues throughout the week.

    • Confused on August 29, 2013 at 6:40 pm said:

      What do your children learn when sitting in the midst of the actual church service. If you send your child to school, whether Christian or not, there are grades dedicated to the academic maturity of your child. I believe it is important for your child to observe their parents living the way God would have them. I also feel as though a child attending worship with their parent is necessary. Having a child attend a children’s church, following a curriculum that is based solely on the bible will provide your child with a understanding of who God is to them. There is nothing wrong with explaining the word of God so a child will understand. In my opinion, I don’t think God meant for his word to be heard and not understood.

      • That’s absolutely right, God does intend for us to understand His word. I’m a little confused – you write about how it’s necessary for a child to attend worship with their parents, but also that there’s nothing wrong with children’s church. Would you be able to explain that a little more? Maybe it’s a cultural thing – over here in the UK, most children’s churches run at the same time as the worship service, so I woudl have to choose one or the other. If there was children’s church or Sunday School at a different time that the worship service, so that kids could attend both, I would be totally happy with that. I’ve been to churches in America where that was the case, but unfortunately most UK churches are not like that – children’s church is more like a Bible-themed daycare so that the adults don’t have to bother about their kids during the worship.

        I would add, though, that to me, sending my kids out to kids church because they don’t understand “adult” church is like saying “don’t talk to your baby because she can’t yet understand what you’re saying to her”. But that’s the way she will learn! I encourage my kids to draw pictures of what the hear the pastor talking about, or write down some of the words they hear; sing along with the songs even if it’s just la la la (my son loves doing this!). We talk about words they hear, and the meaning of communion, and what’s going on when God does something unusual (ours is a pentecostal church so things aren’t necessarily the same every week!). I think children will live up to what you expect of them, so if you expect them to participate at their own level, then they will.

        • Hi Liz! I honestly do not approve children’s church in any fashion. Age segregation is actually based off of Darwinian evolution. I personally do not send my children to any class without myself being present in church.

          • Thanks Nicole. Not sure if this came up in the right place but I was also wodnering what Confused (Aug 29th) thought!

  28. Right on!! Thank you

  29. To me, the main point of this issue is that it really is great for families to worship together, Sunday and everyday. However, if a church provides a Bible-teaching children’s ministry for younger kids, that’s fine too. Nothing mandatory, children still welcome in the sanctuary whenever parents want, and the classes are simply presented as an option.

    Many parents in the church, homeschool, so children’s church is a way for their kids to play with their peers (which is needed sometimes). Also, many parents are on their own raising their kids and can’t afford babysitters to get a breather. A few hours a week to worship by themselves and know that their baby or small child is being taken care of can be a life-saver to them.

    I do think, though, there should be certain Sundays, maybe once a month, where the classes are closed and everyone is worshipping together. And, the classes should only be for younger children; no teen or pre-teen needs to have their own church service. But no matter where you fall on this issue, there really is no need to paint the other side as sinners going to hell. Let’s promote unity, even if we have different convictions on certain issues.

  30. Melissa Martin on September 5, 2013 at 8:11 pm said:

    All I can say is wow!!! You have hit the nail on the head!! I have always wondered about Sunday school, Jesus said “Let the little children come unto Me, and do not forbid them,for such is the kingdom of God.” The disciples were trying to shoo the children away from Jesus, but He said no, let them come. Children mean something to Him, they are special. I hear many people say that children can’t understand the bible, they are so wrong. I am constantly amazed at what my daughter, who is 5, gets out of a Sunday service. I often think she is not paying attention, then later in the week she makes a comment and I realize she was listening.

  31. This is one of the most highly judgemental blog posts I have ever read from a Christian! This is a personal preference based on your individual life experience and it’s sad to be so narrow minded that you judge so many churches and people you have never met and know nothing about their life. Paul made it clear in the letters he wrote that the church needed to stop arguing and complaining. You honestly believe that YOUR way is the only way? Jesus is the only way and the church is the people not the building. To patently state that parents who allow their children to attend children’s church are out of God’s will is quite a judgement to make. Jesus gave us a new law. ..LOVE! LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART AND LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF. I grew up in children’s church and youth ministry, went on to Bible college. I learned all the things you claim are not taught in children’s and youth ministry in those ministries. I’m sure you will pick apart my specific words and be completely unteachable as to a differing experience and opinion but that’s all you’re presenting…your opinion. There are so many other issues that divide Christians why add to that when that itself is unbiblical? We are not to divide on the small things but be sure that Christ is being lifted up. If kids aren’t given enough credit for their understanding in your opinion why not let them have a service where they can serve and participate? Why can that ONLY be done if they are sitting right next to you? If someone tries to force someone to put their children in the nursery then that is NOT love and THAT is the problem not children’s ministries across the board. If you are saying that the ONLY thing that’s acceptable is that our kids should never be permitted to attend children’s services then that is NOT love. Both are the forcing of YOUR WAY onto another person and THAT is unbiblical. WE are the church not the building and not the service we attend weekly. Church is everyday. Jesus spoke to crowds of people and I don’t see anywhere that He put stipulations on how everyone had to be…that every parent never be seperate from their child. Why make such proclamations? Paul also spoke in the new testament church of how all women should wear head coverings and never speak in church. Culture changes but God’s love doesn’t. We should all be careful to get the beam out of our own eyes before trying to remove the speck from another’s. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean NOT on YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths…there is so much we will not understand this side of eternity and we need to have grace for those around us and let the Holy Spirit convict their hearts…I would never tell you that keeping your kids in church is not ok…and for anyone who “doesn’t know what their kids are being taught” that’s their issue and between them and God and certainly not true across the board. I would also love it if everyone believed as passionately in homeschooling as we do but that’s between them and God as well and as huge an issue these things may be to us it isn’t our place to make that choice for the entire body of Christ and decide that a huge section of it is simply disobeying the Lord. I will be praying your heart softens…

    • I honestly didn’t get all the way through your response, but I wanted to say that love is not the only law we are to follow. Your reply sorely lacks the grace and “love” that you are instructing me to have. Childrens churches, Sunday schools, etc. are completely not Biblical and are actually modeled after Darwinian evolution which completely goes against God’s Word. I’ll be praying for you as well. Blessings to you! 🙂

      • I meant nothing out of anything but love and love for the WHOLE body…tone is not well displayed in writing, however I did not claim to be wwithout fault but in need of the same grace daily. If no church is perfect then why do you claim this idea to be absolute truth and that there can be no flaw in your thinking. I KNOW I have flaws but this seems completely bent on condemning people for a flaw YOU perceive. Where in the Bible does it refer to Darwin anyway…that seems like a scapegoat answer to sweep your opinion under one idea. Having kids go to children’s ministry events and linking that to evolution is making assumptions….I can see and believe you have the right to choose, between you and God if that’s right for your family. Can you not give others the same respect?

        • The idea of age segregation is Darwinian. With all due respect, this is my space to write what the Lord has taught me and laid on my heart. You do not have to read it. This is a wonderful message from Voddie Baucham on womanhood, but during the first 15 or so minutes he articulates what I am trying to convey much better than I. Blessings to you! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbvkphJO6sU

  32. Totally agree with the main principle, that families belong together during corporate worship. It points to the sufficiency of God’s word, and to the fact that my comfort and ease are not the central focus of church events. We gather as a body-one body-to worship our King.
    Two points of concern.
    1) The idea that if it isn’t in the Bible it is wrong or unimportant, is completely false. I can’t find a Biblical teaching on whether or not it is okay to drive a car. But I can use principles in the Scriptures to determine what kind of car I can afford and whether or not I am allowed to speed or drive without a license. (BTW, I can only buy cars that are a reasonable price and that I have saved money to purchase, I need a driver’s license, and I try not to speed.) God gives very very basic instructions on how church is to operate, and within that there is a lot of room for freedom based on culture and tradition.
    2) Related to the first, cheap shots at straw man youth ministries are easy to make. Perhaps this is a bigger problem than I have ever seen. But most of the youth ministers I have known are focused on helping, not supplanting, Christian parents. This is very Biblical, check Titus 2. They also are often doing work to reach out to young people who do not have Christian parents, and how some Christians are able to find fault with this is beyond me. It’s easy to be critical, but until you’ve walked a mile in their ministry, I would be very careful of the Christian tendency to assemble our firing squads in a circle.

    • Hi Will, thanks for sharing. The following is a Voddie Baucham message on womanhood (and I know that you’re a guy) :-), but during the first 15 minutes or so he talks in detail about how the Titus 2 model is not about youth ministry in the least. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbvkphJO6sU Also, this is a free film that can be watched online called Divided which better articulates my viewpoint. http://dividedthemovie.com/ I wouldn’t post on such things if I didn’t believe with all of my heart that the devil uses youth ministry to drive our youth away from the church. Blessings to you!

  33. Shell Nalls on September 28, 2013 at 2:49 am said:

    Hi Nicole.
    The church I am a member of has a Children’s Ministry. I am married, but to an unBeliever who does not attend church. That said, I have a daughter (9) and a son (7). My son has Asperger’s and ADHD and is not medicated. We used to attend another church where there was not a Children’s ministry and both kids were with me the whole time. It got to the point where my son was resenting church, simply because I would have to practically sit on him to keep him still and quiet. I was continually flushed with tears and humiliation, feeling like I was just not doing something right. The looks and sighs and often loud grunts from others there, without any offers of relief were simply too much. I found the church I am a member of now, through my personal fitness trainer, whose husband is the pastor. Here’s the thing. My son looks forward to church, he is able to tell me Bible verses they work on for memory, and this past summer at Vacation Bible School, he accepted Christ as his Savior; as we were walking home, he grabs my hand and said to me, “Mommy, guess what!?! I asked God to come into my heart and Jesus is my King!”
    Once a month we have Family Day where everyone is part of the Worship portion of service, and then the children who will go to Children’s Church are allowed to go, or they can stay with their parents. My daughter often chooses to remain with me, and my son makes the choice occasionally as well.
    I am grateful everyday for my church’s childrens’ ministry, and it is my hope and prayer that through what I am learning and what the children are learning, that we will be living lives that reflects the love of Christ and that one day, my children, my husband and myself will all be sitting together for a whole church service, every Sunday.
    I just felt led to offer another perspective, and no disrespect was intended. I thoroughly enjoy your blog!
    Thank you,
    Shell

    • Shell,
      Wow, much love to you, as you walk the difficult road of parenting a special needs child and seeking to lovingly submit to an unbelieving husband. May you one day see him “won without a word” as the Scripture says.

      I respectfully submit to you that the experience you had at the first church is a reflection on their lack of fulfilling the biblical command to love one another and help one another, rather than a reflection on age-segregation in worship.

      I am a member of a church where all ages worship together, for “Sunday School” to discuss the Word in depth, in the worship service, and during “men’s study/women’s study” in the evenings. Some of the older ladies like to bring snacks for the kids, which helps them during bible study, and they also sometimes draw pictures or color.

      There is another family with young children, and sometimes their little ones are a challenge to keep quiet/still. It doesn’t bother me, but then I’m a mom of six. 😉

      After we’d been attending a few weeks and gotten to know them, my teenage daughters asked if it would be helpful to sit with them and help watch the baby if the toddler needed to be taken out, or sit with the toddler when the baby needs changing. I’ve also seen the older ladies of the church sit with them and lovingly encourage the family/help out.

      If the first church had asked if they could help you, have someone sit with you, or offered ideas to make things easier, would you have felt out of place there? It’s wonderful you now have a place where your family is experiencing the love of other believers, and I recognize that you need to weigh what your situation requires. Still, as I said, I think your situation reflects a sinful lack of loving kindness in the first church you described, another issue entirely from having age-separation during worship services.

  34. I LOVE THIS. I was beginning to feel like I was the only person on the planet who was looking for a church community where my children are INCLUDED, and that this didn’t mean I was looking for a church with a “Great Children’s Program.” It’s hard. Have you found workable solutions or church families? I’m not in your area, but just wondering where you landed?

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