Why We Don’t Have Children’s Church Anymore

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I’ve had a couple conversations with parents over the past weeks about children’s church and its demise. I’ve heard a a few different things. “It ended because we didn’t have volunteers.” “We stopped coming because we can’t have our children in worship.” “When are we going to offer that again? Having my children in worship is so hard.”

Parents of Young Children, I feel your pain. But I promise, I am not trying to torture you by asking you to bring your little ones into worship. And I am right there with you. I have three children. Two are still nursery age (a baby and a two-year old) but my six year old worships beside me for the whole service. We also attend church twice a Sunday – in the morning where I serve and in our home denomination, the Mennonite church, in the evening. In the evening all three of our children are in worship with us for most of the service. Our two little ones go to nursery only for the sermon. My six year old stays in both services the whole way through.

She is (God bless her) not easy. She doesn’t sit still and read a book. She is tired, squirmy, talks loudly, wanders, asks questions, spreads out her things, and distracts. I once took my daughter out the service to correct disobedience five different times. I’ve marched to the bathroom multiple times during every sermon I’ve ever heard. My husband and I have refereed fights. We’ve followed crawling babies around the sanctuary. We’ve created spaces to sleep, eat, and play. Every Sunday one of us sits in the nursery with our anxious toddler and “stranger danger” baby.

But ending Children’s Church was strategic. The reason we don’t have it anymore is because we know that going to all-church worship is the best indicator that our children will stick with their faith into adulthood. We aren’t making this up. Despite our intuition about engaging worship, relationships with peers, having something fun, none of this actually matches the data on what helps faith stick. The National Survey on Youth and Religion, which followed young teenagers up through adulthood, extensively detailing their lives and their faith, is where we learned this.

When I am wrestling a toddler to the ground or deciding at what decibel coloring is too loud I remember this:

The closest our research has come to that definitive silver bullet is this sticky finding: High school and college students who experience more intergenerational worship tend to have higher faith maturity. Of the many youth group participation variables we examined, involvement in intergenerational worship and relationships had one of the most robust correlations with faith maturity. This is true for our students’ senior year of high school and their freshman year of college.

Congregations are the place where teens, and before them children, create inter-generational relationships that will stay them through the years. For us, starting those relationships now, as young children, helps them be the church, not just show up once a week.

Being in church with our children shows them that they are accepted as they are because that’s what the church is. We don’t have to shuttle them off to their own private place, as if they are an embarrassment, or hindering us from worship. This season of life worship is about helping our church learn what it’s like to be a community of faith. It isn’t easy. It’s often messy and hard. But that’s also what church is.

We also know from the statistics that parents are the most formative influence on their children’s faith lives. Children overwhelmingly turn out just like their parents, despite our intuition that children are faith experimenters. So if my kids see that other activities trump going to church, or if they never see what adults do in worship, then chances are good that they are going to look the same way in twenty years. If we want children to learn the language of faith they actually need to see us worshipping, praying, singing, and receiving bread and cup.

Knowing these things has made church a little easier for us. In the moment I too long for children’s church, for an age-appropriate, entertaining space away from me. I want to be fed on Sundays. I want space to be hear the sermon, to sing without interruption. And there will be a time for that. There will be a time when my children are engaged in worship, when they can listen and sit still, where they can participate. But right now we are working on something else.

Just when I am at the end of my rope I can start to see the fruits of our work. Our daughter has asked us to invite some adult friends from church to her birthday party. We have other adults who help is in worship, who will hold our baby, or stop our child as she runs out of the room. In nursery many adults without children volunteer to stay with our little ones. One day soon, when they too reach kindergarten and join in worship for the whole service, they will know those faces and voices. And there are other adults my daughter can sit with in worship, other adults who she can go to when she needs support.

None of this makes worship easy. It doesn’t mean that we’re not tearing out our hair, or wishing we could be away for the weekend. It doesn’t mean we don’t worry that our child will fall behind, won’t have enough extra curricular activities, won’t be fed spiritually. But we keep moving ahead, keeping packing up our kids into the van. And we know our church loves our children and wants them to be a part of God’s good work. And we know we’re all in this together.

A few weeks ago I read Scripture during the service wearing our eight month old (see picture above). Paul was writing to the Thessalonians, encouraging them to be imitators. He writes, “You became imitators of us and of our Lord.” On the word “imitators” our baby did just that. Hearing mama read she yelled “ahhh!” We hope she continues to imitate the lives of faith, old and young, single and married who surround her as she grows. We hope her imitation of mama’s voice turns into imitation of mercy and justice, to imitations of the faithful people that surround her. Surrounding her with those people every Sunday starts now.

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79 thoughts on “Why We Don’t Have Children’s Church Anymore

  1. We also don’t want to bore children. Bored children don’t like church. So then what? We have both of course! I grew up in a church where there was Sunday school offered before or after service that was age appropriate, and also every-other week after worship, offering, greetings, announcements, prayer time and the main scripture reading we would leave for “skituations” where several adults (most but not all of which had children our age) put on creative skits that brought biblical concepts into modern relevance during the sermon. So we were always part of the community bit of worship and sometimes also learned to listen to sermons but it wasn’t sooo much sitting through things that we didn’t understand that we became disengaged. As a Junior in college who is still in the faith, I think that was fairly effective way to keep us engaged and learning.

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    • Totally agree. Church needs to be a reflection of the people who sit in the pews. That means children should be involved. In our church we have children who usher, acolyte, read Scripture, act out the Gospel, play drums and chimes, dance, sing, and pray. We have worship bags for children to “color the hymns” and Pew Projects to help children engage the Scripture during the sermon in an age-appropriate way. That being said, I’m also fine with a little boredom. We learn that way, too.

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  2. Its not that I disagree with you or the research – but I know a whole pile of people who are no longer of the faith who were made to go to church all their life, sit in church, hear the sermon and they all make comments like I don’t want to put my kids through that, force that stuff down their throats etc. How does this sit for intergenerational worship? Just wondering?

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    • Totally with you, Nicole. I think we’re coming out of a generation of adults who didn’t think about engaging everyone in worship. Kids were sidelined – church was for adults. I talked a little about how we are trying to avoid that in the previous comment (and in other posts). I think of my role as making ministers of children, helping them to claim a voice to engage their gifts in worship, and in the whole life of the church.

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    • I also would be interested to see how these parents lived out what they said they believed before the kids who wanted nothing more than to get away, off to their own desires. Children are smart enough to know if you live what you preach. They learn to believe you by your actions. Your example is everything if not telling. I say what was the parent of such a child really passionate about.

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    • Sometimes it means changing the way we do church–and how we teach faith at home. If all we do is sit in church that faith is going to be pretty dead. Worship shouldn’t be just a once a week experience. It’s part of what we’re made to do on a daily basis.

      We don’t let kids choose when it comes to going to school or not. We don’t let them make decisions about their own medical care, if they need to do their homework, eat their vegetables, go to bed at a certain time, or when it’s time to turn off the TV. So why when we ask folks to set an expectation for their child’s spiritual health, are we suddenly forcing things on them? Isn’t their faith just as important as every other aspect of who they are–if not more so? Just something to consider.

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  3. I love this. As a parent, an adult who felt church was boring growing up, and now as the Children’s Ministry Cord at our church. I hear all opinions and can relate to many of them. We have a thriving children’s church for children preschool through 4th grade. On Sunday’s we take Communion (once a month) the children will sit the entire service…gasp! Tomorrow will be our first run at this. Many times shuffling children to another room makes them feel invisible and unheard. Having them learn how to worship with adults is hugely helpful to their spiritual growth. I’ve heard push back from a few parents, but I’m confident this will be a positive impact for the entire congregation. They will be able to apply some of the stories and ideas we do in the children’s worship time and validate their beliefs. Thank you for this wonderful article!

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  4. Sorry, I don’t like listening to your child(ren)s tantrums in church. I’m so glad our church has a children’s program. They can get a lesson that is at their level and learn to sit still during the lesson. Now that my children are teens, they either attend church or at times, serve in children’s church.

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    • Sorry if I wasn’t clear, Sandy. I also don’t always “like” having my children in church. If it was about what I “like” I’d be the first person to sign up for children’s church. I may not like it, but it’s still the best thing we’ve got. Children are leaving the church at a rate of 80%, walking out the door at 18 and never looking back. At this point I’m not as interested in kids learning a lesson and how to sit still as I am kids being Christians into adulthood. And right now all the signs point to that happening when children are a part of the primary worshiping community that meets together, prays together, eats together, sings together.

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      • hi melissafb,

        Youth leaving at 18 just proves we need age based ministries, have children’s church till 13 and then intergrate into a youth group till your 20+ and by then the youth have already slowly integrated into church.

        The study you cite says that youth “group participants and college students” are more likely to stay if they are involved in intergenerational worship – so have intergenerational worship while they are involved with a strong youth group.

        It doesn’t make sense to

        From what I can t

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      • I’m not quite sure how you’re getting that from the data. It’s pretty explicit – kids who worship with their parents in all-church worship are more religiously committed later on in life. Feel free to check out the National Survey of Youth and Religion, Christian Smith, Kenda Dean, etc.

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    • Sandy, your use of the words “I” and “like” aren’t very loving or Biblical. I am sure our Saviour doesn’t like our hardened hearts and lack of love for his body represented in the Church. But He loves us anyway. If worship was about you and me then there wouldn’t be congregations. I strongly recommend that you look outside yourself next time you are in worship and see the body of Christ, not your comfort zone.

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      • No need to be passive aggressive, either. Especially to strangers on the internet, without any context. I would prefer to see a healthy dialogue about issues close to heart rather than shushing those who have a different experience than our own.

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    • For years I suffered not just my children in church it was more the tuts and dirty looks from members of the congregation who forgot how hard it was. So much for displaying CHRIST. And that with them going out in the middle to sunday school.We are the body of Christ and im not sure excluding a large part of it because it disturbs us is really great attitude. Children arent the issue it’s the people’s attitude. After all Christs suffer the little children is an example of how we should be.

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    • He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.

      Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

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  5. I agree that church is for children. The church belongs to them. When I think about my home church, I still think back to the church of my childhood. Only babies went to the cry room. Yes, I hated being forced to go to church as a teenager, but I hated everything. When I had my first child, I high- tailed it back to church looking for a community who cared about me and my family. My church family is my family. The children are my children. I want them in service, occasional tears and all.

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  6. I agree that children should be in the main service but many childless adults don’t agree to having their worship disrupted which is why we have a once a month, well attended family service.

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    • If you have visiting non Christian families with children that have not been brought up in the pews … I dare say when you tell them there is nothing for their children at their level … I bet they don’t come back and now you have lost an opportunity to share Christ with any of them … So many of these posts are from people familiar with church … Not a very evangelistic approach… So many non Christian families let their kids dictate what they do where they go and if they are bored …they will not be back

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      • Actually, we have a great retention rate of new families. Instead of making their children feel unwelcome they know that their children are cherished – right in the service. I’m not sure what gave you the impression that we don’t have something at their level. We have something at everyone’s level! That’s the beauty of inter-generational worship.

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  7. I agree that children should be in the sanctuary with adults. However, if we do not send them out to something age appropriate, then we have to make sure that ministers and leaders plan worship with all ages of people in mind and children should have input in the planning. They should also share leadership responsibilities in the service. We need to use their gifts, not just tolerate them. There are so many things we can do to make worship more friendly for them. There is an article about this, that I wrote many years ago and that I think can still be found on the Family and Children’s Ministries Page of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) web page. http://Www.disciples.org. I also don’t think it has to be totally one way. Infants can easily be in the sanctuary until they get to that stage of needing to be a lot more active, say 2 years and certainly some children do better than others in a totally adult setting, as are most worship services. There should be a nursery for those children when needed. At age 3 to say 5 or 6, I recommend a program called Young Children and Worship for those who cannot tolerate the boredom of adult worship. This program is Bible story based but it is not entertainment, it is worship and is a wonderful experience for adults and children. As soon as children can read then I believe they should be back in the sanctuary, where people are hopefully open to what they have to offer.

    Please contact me if you would like additional information.

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    • The message should always be tailored to the comprehension level of all the listeners, otherwise the word is lost to all but a few of the gathered, and we risk becoming like the sound of clanging bells, or those enamored with the sound of their own voice. An unfortunate, but not surprising affect of the traditional church and liturgy on the Body of Christ. Another great reason to return to the ways of the early church, when gatherings were held in believer’s homes, where families felt at home, and children were “suffered”, and worship was a communal experience, led by the Holy Spirit and participated by all.

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  8. Pingback: Reblogged:Why We Don’t Have Children’s Church Anymore | Strands of Life

  9. Congratulations on making a tough choice. There will always be some people that grow up and leave the church, but more people will never come to church if they have never been there as children. When I was pregnant with my son 30 years ago, I also wanted to know how to lead my baby into a life of faith. So I looked at what my parents did. They took me to church every Sunday, to Sunday School and VBS. It wasn’t easy. When my baby was born, we were pastoring a church of 12 people. We had church 3 times a week. I was the Sunday School teacher, sang specials almost every service. Over the years, and several different churches, he probably only attended Children’s Church about 1 year. The good news is, those years with your small, noisy child will go by faster than you know. The really good news is my son accepted Christ as his Savior in that Sunday School class, and is now serving in the music ministry and church board of his church. I believe you are making the right choice. I pray God will bless your ministry and family.

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    • JenT….so you think Jesus was arguing for a intergenerational worship service in that verse. Are you sure that’s proper biblical interpretation?

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  10. I appreciate your article. However, as the Youth Coordinator if my church and father of a crazy busy 2 year old I understand the pros and cons of having a children’s program and keeping the children in the worship. When i am not teaching in the childrens program I am often chasing and keeping my 2 year old fr causing a too big if a disruption. Right now I am hardly getting a lot from the sermon and worship but I know this period will pass as she grows up. Do I think children need to be in the worship area all the time. No I don’t.

    My church has all the children reenter the congregation before communion each week. Also once a month we hold a family service where the children stay for the service and often partake in it.

    As for the children’s program it is not 45 minutes of entertaining the children. The children experience there own worship time. We have a small alter that they set up, we say the same prayers to get them familiar, sing worship songs and learn about the seasons of the church, bible stories and develop their spiritual development. My goal with my program (that i designed) is too familiar the children with what, how and why we do what we do in the service so that when they ‘graduate’ Sunday school and enter the worship full time they would understand amd appreciate it and feel wanted to stay.

    This works for us but i realize each church is different. I am glad that your church has found something. There are many different ways to develop spirituality and you have to use works for you.

    Would love to discuss this with anyone who is interested.

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    • Being a clergy person with kids is a whole different ball game, isn’t it, Jason? I feel you on this. It is so hard. I try to remind myself that I’m modeling for my congregation what I hope they experience – messy, difficult, blessed, joyful, and sometimes loud worship that we all do together.

      It sounds like the kids at your church have a lot of experience being a part of cross-generational worship. You have to remember that there are churches where kids don’t set foot into “adult” worship until they are in high school, sometimes older! I don’t think the research shows that it has to be kids with adults 100% of the time. Blessings on you as you prepare young people for a lifetime of following Jesus!

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  11. Interesting…this doesn’t sit that well with me – the attitude of Kids Church/sunday school that this person has presented is that it is an embarrasing ‘babysitting’ service. I am sorry, but I don’t see Kids Church as babysitting let alone embarrasing! KIDS ARE VALUABLE! They are little PEOPLE with unique needs – maybe it is because I am the children’s worker at our church, but I see Kids Church just as important as ‘real’ Church – just speaking in children language and to be celebrated! Yes, I see value in the intergenerational thing – but I believe that children can be valued in many ways and that intergenerational relationships can be formed in many different intentional and unintentional ways. I am reading into this that their idea of ‘valuing children’ is to simply have them in church. While I do believe that there is benefit in children sitting in church so that it is not a ‘strange’ phenomenon, I also believe in the value of Kids ministry. At our church, we have no Kids church on the last Sunday of each month to ensure the children experience the intergenerational and just experience church – however, in this service, intentional adaptions are made (not huge) to ensure the kids are still valued. I think it comes not so much down to whether there is kids church or not – I think it comes down to how the congregation/leaders VALUE children. If canning Kids church because it is seen as a babysitting service – and that people think that shoving the kids into church without changing anything is going to make them stay….I am sorry- but to me that is NOT showing the children that they are valued – it doesn’t cut it for me, in fact, I would even go to the other extreme – I think it sends them a devalue message.

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    • That person is me!

      I also don’t think of children’s church as babysitting and I think the motivations are almost always honorable, thoughtful, and filled with love and good intentions. But the research on what helps kids mature in faith doesn’t show that age-segregated worship or Sunday school in place of worship is doing what we hoped it would. It’s counter-intuitive, right? But that’s what we’ve got to work with.

      And amen to kids being valued! I think you are right on that if kids are made to feel like they don’t belong then it won’t matter what you do in worship. I love that you are presenting opportunities for cross-generational worship. I wonder, too, what would it look like to have those “adaptions” every week? Would that be pushing people’s comfort zone?

      A lot of this blog is about the ways my church is working towards making children ministers, not just bystanders in worship. One of my goals right now is to think about how we welcome little little ones (under 4) into worship in thoughtful ways. There’s always more work to be done! Blessings on your church’s ministry to it’s littlest members.

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      • Sorry – I didn’t realise that your goal was under 4 (this was a stand alone article someone posted on FB) – is tricky. Is there any ‘right’ answer? Probably not – different churches have different ‘kid accepting’ cultures and what works in one church won’t with another. I get the research, but still need to ensure that the kids needs are not just being ‘ignored’ (and I can see that this is not your intention – in fact you are seeking the opposite – comes back to the church culture) ittle Kids come with specific needs that are quite different to adults. How do we mesh????

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      • First I want to apologise for my rant about ‘babysitting’ – you NEVER mentioned that – it was my rash interpretation from a quick read: “We don’t have to shuttle them off to their own private place, as if they are an embarrassment, or hindering us from worship.” I guess it was the wording that I got a bit of incorrect interpretation from….lesson learnt – SO SORRY. The key that I like is ‘intentional’ and focused on binding the generations together – not simply ‘ending Kids Church’ and making the kids sit in the service where alot of it goes over the children’s heads. In my thoughts…if Kids church were to be canned – adaptations to the service would need to take place to ensure the children are valued. Yes, I get the research – and I agree mostly – maybe I have to ‘let it go’. Of course, every church is unique. It depends on so many factors…I can only really comment on my own experience and what works in our church. SO SORRY again for the misunderstood blurt out in my first post would kind of like to delete it – if you can – I give you my full permission. Sorry again.

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      • No worries, Sarah. Tone is always difficult to assess in posts like this. My comment about embarrassment has more to do with how parents are made to feel by others (and sometimes themselves) when their child has a difficult time being still and quiet in worship. I actually always take my child to the back or out during the sermon. Heck, I’m a preacher and I know it’s hard to think when you have someone screaming in the background. And since we’re part of a community I want others to be able to hear, especially folks without children. That being said I totally support parents who keep their kids in worship, even during the sermong. If babies aren’t crying the church is dying. It is music to my ears.

        I’m MORE focused on under 4s since we’ve had more of them in worship lately and I don’t think we are doing a great job including them right now. We do a wonderful job (I think) with K-5th. So right now I’m thinking about how to meet those families and their children, also recognizing that most kids under 4 are in nursery.

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      • So – you still have Sunday school? When does that occur? I was under the impression that you didn’t have anything specific for the kids from the article.

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  12. Reblogged this on kingdomcruciformity and commented:
    I have been thinking about discipleship, community, cultural liturgies, and spiritual formation. How do we hand down the faith to the next generation while allowing them to contribute to the life of that congregation in meaningful ways? Here is an article about something I have been considering as we try to become more intergenerational and relational in our approach to discipleship.

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  13. I’m really surprised this has been found to be the case as in my experience it has been the complete opposite. I grew up in church and had a relationship with God from a very young age but HATED being in the church service (we had to stay in once a month) and would always kick up a fuss about going if I found out there was no Sunday school that day. Even though I loved God and I loved Sunday school, I was an adult before I would willingly sit through a church service and before I stopped considering a 20min sermon to be too long. I was always grateful for the Sunday school leaders for valuing us enough to run those groups and I think it was their effort that made me feel part of the church. Most of the other children I grew up with in church are Christians as adults. However, I’ve found in other churches where they stop children’s groups at age 11, for example, the churches are full of young teens on their phones not engaging who stop coming as soon as their parents let them. These kids are given the message that church isn’t really for them, it’s just something they have to endure.

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    • I also didn’t love sitting in worship as a child. I grew up in the Episcopal church and I remember reading the liturgy in the BCP as fast as I could and always wondered why we couldn’t pick up the pace a little! Get me out of here! But I learned church. And it formed me over time. Church was never optional; it was never something we did if other things allowed time. I knew it was important, and that I needed to grow into it. To this day I know the Creeds, the Lord’s Prayer, the doxology and so many hymns because I sat in church every week.

      And you’re right, as others have commented, that churches need to be places where children aren’t just tolerated but welcomed and utilized as ministers. And parents gotta parent. You’re also right that statistics are all averages. There are always outliers. God is good and faithful and works in spite of all our plans, failings, and expectations! Can I get an amen!?

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    • Thank you, Lora. It is because we value children and their needs that we have children’s church at my church. The children attend the main service through the congregational singing and the offering, and then we leave for children’s church where they have one or two children’s songs and then a Bible lesson that is geared to their level. On the Sundays that communion is served, I spend part of the children’s church time explaining the meaning of communion, and we return to the adult service to share communion.

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  14. I am a childfree-by-choice non-Cheistian, but here me out. If you insist on attending a worship service free of kids—you suck. Your Jesus always scolded his followers when they wouldn’t let him near the children; he’d shame you for scooting kids away to some babysitting service, all the same. Religious services always was meant to be a family affair. Look at churches and other religious places in developing countries—kids scream and cry, heck, women always breastfeed then and there if they think their child is hungry! If your kids can’t keep a lid on it during service, give everyone else a break, take the kid out into the commons to cry it out, and then just follow up with the pastor after.

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  15. I have three children. One is a freshman in college, one is a junior in high school, and the third one is in second grade. As my two older girls were growing our church had children’s church for Sunday morning service, but the kids were in service for Sunday night service. I do remember wanting to pull my hair out many times because they were not quiet. There were always people around who would help by inviting the children to sit with them; my children learned a lot from them. When my teenagers are having rough times in life those people are now their mentors. My second grader is growing with a similar situation. We have children’s church during the sermon, but the kids are in the rest of the service. Just the other day she was listing her “buddies” by name – one was a friend from school and three were people of the church all over 70 years old. That is the friends I want her to have so she can learn how people feel about The Lord after years of service to Him.

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  16. I really appreciate the thoughts here and the exchange in the comments has explored the differences. I write from the UK where separating children off is by far more common than not. I have always wondered, however, about the people with power (namely the adults) taking decisions that require children to leave the valued, often beautiful and beautifully decorated space and go and continue worship in the often dull and much less interesting space. Somehow that does not sit easily with my understanding of the Gospel.

    I wonder how long the adults would put up with being sent off into the hall to hear the sermon while leaving the children to enjoy the beauty of church building spaces .

    There may well be a place for some differentiated learning in churches but I am not sure that should necessarily be age differentiated. Let us have art and activities for those who learn visually and kinaestheticly and let us divide by personality and learning styles not by age.

    We ignore at our peril research that tells us this is good for the long term health of our churches and for the building up if the whole body of the faithful.

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  17. I agree and disagree. We have our children participate in our worship service, and then they are called up for prayer before heading downstairs for a lesson that is more age-appropriate. As a teacher, I’m trained to understand the attention spans of children, and as the children’s ministry leader, I train my staff to utilize the room, their tools and crafts to maximize every minute for learning. (I don’t agree with having youth leave the adult service for any other reason than to minister in the children’s church) No study can depict what the “best way” is for getting young people to stay in church…because their will always be a devil manipulating them into exercising their free will. So I want to make the most of every Sunday we have these souls for and teach them as much about Jesus as possible, in a manner which they will understand, so when they grow old…they won’t depart from it.
    Thanks for the thought-provoking article that causes us to take a look at our methods and ministry 🙂

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  18. As a pastor and parent I have wrestled with these things myself for many years, and frankly, I’m saddened by your conclusion. Data does not indicate that it is simply attendance in worship that leads to a lifetime faith – it’s engagement. The solution is not to have our kids of all ages present regardless of content – it’s to create an atmosphere of worship that meets their needs.
    The reason kids get squirmy in church is because they aren’t engaged. The reason they don’t pay attention in prayers, is often because we’re speaking a foreign language. The reason they tune out to bible readings, is because the translation is dull to their young minds. The reason they shut off sermons is because they’re above their needs and life circumstances. The reason they dislike the music is because it’s often in a style they don’t connect with and uses words they can’t own yet. But what if none of this was true?
    Would you ask your kids to sit through Casablanca for family movie night? Or Braveheart? Of course not! You shift your adult preferences for the time you spend with them to make the experience a positive one for them that they’ll crave again – the same should be true of worship!
    At my church we share weekly family worship. Our kids are with us for 2/3 of the service – and when they’re there, it’s geared for them. They then depart for age specific teaching so the adults can get some too. There are things that adults need to be challenged on that are not appropriate/applicable to a wide range of kids – and vice versa.
    I sincerely hope your church leadership reconsiders this choice.

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    • It sounds like you’re doing some great things to welcome children into worship, Alex. And I’m sorry that you heard in my post that we’re dumping kids into adult worship to sit around as bystanders. The whole blog (and many comments I’ve already responded to) is about how to make ministers of children, full and participating members of the community. We don’t have our children leave because we try to make the whole service a service for everyone. Does that mean kids are deeply engaged in the sermon? No. So we have Pew Projects they can do in their seats that help them engage the Scripture text. We also have Sunday school. And we encourage faith formation at home. It’s not going to be something we reconsider because it’s a deeply engrained value. Worship is for everyone, and every baptized person is a minister.

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      • I completely agree that every baptized person is a minister of the gospel – I just struggle a lot with your arrived at conclusion that being present in worship (regardless of how it’s spent) is best. I pose the question: what is better, to have a child sitting next to their parent working on an activity while their parents try to concentrate on something else entirely, or a child sitting with their peers in an environment where they can ask questions to someone who is there to respond to their age specifically, while their parents/caregivers are learning themselves? I would suggest that a pew project does not make a child a, “full and participating member of the community,” but rather an exercise that only engages a certain type of learner with a built in purpose of keeping them quiet. I’m sorry if that sounds offensive.

        I would also suggest that it’s impossible to make worship work for everyone all the time – you cannot possibly tell me that a 5 year old girl should be expected to appreciate the same things, think as critically, have the same emotional responses and learn in the same way that a widowed mother of 6 who survived WWII does. Worship – if it’s been designed as a whole piece and not simply a collection of separate parts – should be a spirit filled journey that connects our hearts, minds and souls with that of Christ. If our attempt is to be all things to all people all the time – we will miss the mark 99% of the time!

        What type of pew activity would you have a 3 year old child do to interact with the story of Ehud the left handed assassin? How about the variety of passages on sexual purity before the Lord? Is the way we talk about Christ’s death to an 8 year old going to have the same lasting impact on a 70 year old? There are things we need to be taught in Christian community that just aren’t appropriate or applicable for all ages.

        I really don’t think it needs to be an either/or discussion.

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      • I really believe that a child-centered Bible lesson in children’s church is much more effective in teaching a child about Jesus than a “pew project.” I realize that some children will absorb information from an adult sermon while they color a picture, but many children who attend our church have very short attention spans and need visual aids of some type. We originally had children’s church for the entire worship service time, but we recently began taking the children to the adult service for the music time, leaving for children’s church after the offering. It has been a joy to see how our children have begun to bond with some of our adults because of this. I very much agree with you that we need to have children with adults, but when it comes time for the sermon, I believe that children’s church is the best choice.

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      • Thanks for your thoughts, Nancy. I believe that almost everyone who does anything with children’s ministry truly loves children and wants to see them grow as followers of Jesus. But I am an advocate for cross-generational worship, and I think there are lots of opportunities for children to engage in every aspect of worship. And Pew Projects aren’t coloring a picture.

        Here’s a resource that might be interesting for your congregation:
        http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0687061571/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=calvininstitu-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325

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    • I mean, yeah, it is kind of offensive. I spend a lot of my week thinking of how to creatively engage children in worship. A lot of that energy goes into Pew Projects. I frequently have adults tell me they wish they had a Pew Projects, because another myth of church is that every adult is an auditory learner. Pew Projects (some are listed in the blog. Might be good to go check some out before passing judgement) are a “sermon” for children. They minister and teach. They don’t distract.

      I come from a tradition where children read the Martyrs Mirror as bedtime reading, so I’m not worried about difficult Bible stories. For thousands of years people gathered to read those stories together, adults and children. I’m concerned about the idea that we’re all so far off from one another that we can’t receive the Word together in worship. Those relationships, the sharing, the witnessing, the imitation, That’s a priority for me. I do think that’s better. We have Sunday school for age-specific teaching. Worship does something else.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Blessings on your ministry and the journey of transformation that God has put before you. Thank you for your willingness to share the journey with others with the hope that it encourages them to seek God’s visions for themselves as well.

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  19. I have grown up in a church where they use a curriculum that doesn’t make it a “Sunday School” type feel. This curriculum isn’t just having kids learn something in a class and forgetting it when they go home. It also equipps parents to talk about what they have been learning at church, at home, and giving them the resources to do that. We also have a “family experience” as we call it that allows the kids to bring their parents, grandparents, or whomever they want to come to church with them. (Just so you know, this experience isn’t during one of my church’s regular worship experiences) I have grown up in all of this. I think that this is one of the reasons why I am so passionate about kids. When I was younger, and had to stay for both services, I would sometimes go to the actual services with my dad. I can’t tell you one thing from any of those many services that I remember. But, going to kids programming was really the place where my faith began to take off. In middle school, I started attending a service the middle schoolers had, then I would go to the service. But, usually no more than two times a month, I would serve in kids ministry. I think that giving kids Bible stories that they are going to stick is more important than making them go to church where they can’t understand what the pastor is even saying. I think that there is a time for kids to be attending the actual church services, but I think that time is around middle school age, when they can begin to understand and start grasping these concepts.

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  20. I think that children should be in church with their parents as much as possible, but that church school can serve a valuable purpose as long as it isn’t only “keep them busy” crafts. As a pastor, I’ve found services more disrupted by parents trying to keep their children quiet and under control than letting them wander around and/or play with toys/books etc. That would be more true in smaller congregations <100 worshippers than the larger ones where it is necessary to keep track of them for their own safety. Perviously, as parents and congregational members, some of our children remain engaged in the church and some of them haven't. What seems to be important is how much they were invited and expected by the congregation to contribute to the life of the congregation whether in worship as musicians, as ushers, readers, or as council members etc. Also important is the person they marry, and their church involvement.

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  21. Reblogged this on christinejbaxter.net and commented:
    I have heard this debated from many angles and I think this author brings a genuine perspective that needs to be considered. What do we say to our children when we compartmentalize them into a classroom causing the whole body of Christ to not be present within the Worship experience ?

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  22. First of all, I love everything about your article. I have three boys (6, 4, 1) and they have sat through almost every service they have ever been to. (My husband is a pastor so we’ve been to lots of church). We recently moved to a new city and the church has Sunday school! Four weeks in and I am angry. After the first week I insisted the children not miss communion. Then the next week they spent Sunday school making Halloween decorations. Then last week the kids came up briefly for communion and went back downstairs. I found out they were watching Shrek…. Instead of going to church and learning about faith and worship they were watching a movie that has nothing to do with any of that and a movie I do not approve of my kids watching. Call me a grump, but none of this is ok. I have worked hard over the years to teach my kids how to behave in church, how to sing the songs, how to pray, how to listen, all by myself in the pew, and I feel like all of this is being thrown away. Well the new mom in this church will be keeping her kids in the pew next week. I strongly believe kids belong in church. If church is for everyone, it is certainly for them too. Thank you for being brave enough to share your story.

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    • Wow! I cannot imagine anyone thinking that showing Shrek as part of children’s church would be appropriate. If that is what happens in your children’s church, then I don’t blame you at all. I would prefer to keep my children in church with me also. Our children’s church is a time of worship, just like the adult service…just with a message geared toward children instead of adults. We also return to the sanctuary for communion.

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      • Did someone say something about Shrek? I must have missed that. It sounds like there are some wonderful things happening at your church, Nancy. We’re going to continue to find ways to keep children in worship for the whole service, but it sounds like you have found something that works for you. Also, so glad to hear that children are welcomed back for Communion. So important!

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  23. I am not necessarily opposed to children in the service with their parents. However, we need to be careful about making such strong claims based on NSYR data. The data was collected from teens and young adults. This does not necessarily imply that this is the best approach for young children. As one of the original researchers on the project, I can tell you that we did not collect data about young children and do not make any claims about the best form of church ministry for young children. Certainly, there are lessons to be learned from the project that might apply to kids. But I would caution you not to overstate the claims that the study is making in order to support your own perspective on this issue.

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    • Thanks for this gentle push back. I do wish there was more research on children and worship to point to, but, as far as I know, NSYR seems to be what we have to look back on. I am also thinking about this as a former youth minister. By the time you get children to high school it’s difficult to suddenly introduce the idea of being in all-church worship unless that was a transition period from being a younger child. So I’m pulling from that experience, as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Reblogged this on rev james rowe and commented:
    I suppose this is somewhat easier for me to say as a pastor whose spouse accompanies our toddler in worship… but there is some great beauty in seeing my three-year-old daughter share the peace and singalong with the Eucharistic Prayer.

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  25. I don’t know that I fully agree with this. I can see your point. However, I don’t see a problem with presenting the gospel to a child on their level in contrast with forcing them to sit through a sermon that will have negative memories attached to it. I only say this because I grew up in children’s church and I never once felt I was being shuffled off away from my family. In fact when I became an adult, the times the gospel was presented to me on my level were the strongest memories and ties that brought me into my own adult faith. The church leaders that respected that I was a child and and didn’t force me to engage in adult behavior are the ones that had the largest impact on me. For my children I desperately want them to experience church as something to look forward to not something they have to suffer through until they are older. I also feel it’s incredibly sad for them to be forced to sit through concepts that may be a little hard for them to grasp right now when they could experience something so great and they could be learning so much about the Bible but in a way they understand.

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  26. Pingback: Why We Don’t Have Children’s Church Anymore | And the stones shall cry

  27. I couldn’t imagine sending my children off somewhere else during worship. I have 5 children, two with Aspergers, who have always stayed with us throughout worship. They get more than you know from the entire worship experience. I also can’t imagine sending my kids to Sunday School … in our church, we all go together as a family to cross- generational Tuesday Night Sunday School, where we all learn from each other.
    The best sermon I ever heard was short and sweet, “I see God in each person’s eyes. ” Our Pastor said it was ok I hadn’t heard all of his sermon that day, as my 3 year old’s observation topped anything he had said by a mile. Had she been elsewhere during the sermon, I might have missed out on something that lives in my heart always. I have not looked at a single person the same since.

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  28. When we first started our church, we rented a one room facility so we had no space for separate children or youth activities. We actually came to love the fact that our children would move around the room from lap to lap of their extended church family. Now that we have a larger facility, we still do not do separate services for the children or youth.

    We have a time in our service we call the “take-away” where we get into groups for discussion. The kids join us in discussion and sometimes we form discussion/activity groups specifically for them. It is wonderful to see how much even our young ones actually do hear of the message.

    I grew up in the church and fondly remember Sunday school. I also remember sitting in the pew with my parents and learning (sometimes the hard way) to be still. I always felt a close connection to the members of our congregation. I’m sure being in church services with them was a significant factor in that bonding.

    Thank you for addressing this sometimes unpopular notion. We, too, have had those “tear the hair out” moments during service, but overall find it’s a great model.

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  29. So glad the researcher pointed out this was about teenagers, not young children. Don’t put too much importance on one study. Studies are just information, not wisdom. We must use experience and wisdom to make crucial decisions about our precious children. I have fond memories of children’s church and it didn’t make me want to disengage from church as an adult. I learned songs and memorized Bible verses that I still can quote to this day. I learned about giving by bringing my pennies to the offering plate every week. I learned to worship in Children’s church. I gave my heart to Jesus at age 7 in children’s church. I ran to my Grandma after church to tell her and she cried. It’s a pivotal moment in my life, which I remember clearly. God touched me. Let us not throw out the baby with the bath water and think Children’s church is obsolete because of one study. That’s giving the survey too much power. I have been a church goer my whole life (pastor’s wife as well.) We have been leaders in all types of churches from mega to smaller, in America and Europe. Our Swiss-English speaking church had 65 nationalities with many different denominations represented, so you can imagine the diverse experiences that people bring into leadership, with expectations that their way is THE right way. The once a month family service has been the most effective tool to include all involved to become an intergenerational worship experience. It’s the best of both worlds. I personally have a lot of difficulty with noisy, distracting children and parents, who are not obviously hearing the prayers or sermon. The other 600 people who showed up, are not hearing it as well, because the noise level is too high. It also distracts the preacher (my husband). It’s a problem for all who are in worship. But it is something that can be solved. At our church, Africans think it is OK for kids to run around and distract, Europeans and New World countries don’t think it is Ok, so we had to learn to work together and create the once a month family service. It’s a good compromise and involves all ages to come to the table for discussion. We value our children, but they shouldn’t be allowed to distract from worship. But they are children! We also have to honor the older people who have trouble hearing and can’t tolerate the noise. Try it in your church. The children’s choir sings, a children’s sermon is given, then the children go to their parents and try to sit quietly, once a month. The children learn, the people without children see the value in children being included but three Sundays a month there is adult worship with no distractions. It works well. Also try the one month on and one month off for S.S. teachers, so they get a chance to worship as well. If you get everyone involved in the conversation, it is amazing how Christians can rally and help one another. Don’t get stuck in one side of the debate and not budge. It appears that you are struggling to have your children in worship but because of the study think you have to persevere so they will choose church as an adult. No guarantees on that issue. You deserve to have adult worship as well during their growing up years. Talk to the older generation and glean wisdom from their experiences. Include them in your decision making policies in church leadership. All the best.

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    • I bristle at the word “distraction” for children. I return to the question Robbie Castleman asks in Parenting in the Pew – what is worship for? Is it for me to “get something out of it”? To learn something? To get an hour free from parenting? Or is it about worship? And what is the kind of worship God desires? I don’t have any problem with my children being in worship with me because I think God loves them worshiping. And I want my daughter to learn worship through imitation. I want to find better ways for everyone to worship together. For me it’s not about a debate of one side vs. the other. It does have something to do with the habits of those who mature on to Christian faith. But most of all it has to do with my theology of worship and what it means to be the church. I’m going to post more on this soon, including some history of Sunday school and how we got to our current model of children’s church.

      I’m also aware that there are lots of ways to go about this. I don’t think it’s the end of the world if a church has a nursery for babies and toddlers, or if children leave for the sermon. But I know there are churches that don’t have any family worship, where you start in nursery, then go to children’s church, then youth worship and then you hit college and you have no idea how to worship as an adult or it seems boring, etc. NSYR isn’t the only research to support this. It’s the most comprehensive research we have, and I don’t have any problem inferring certain lessons from NSYR onto children’s ministry. Feel free to see these as well:
      http://worship.calvin.edu/resources/resource-library/the-church-of-all-ages-annotated-bibliography/

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  30. Great article. I think the most important thing we can do as parents is to model true Christianity, in or out of church. If we attend a church service, leave, and fight with our spouse in the car or yell at someone who nearly cuts us off in traffic, we’re teaching our children that being a Christian merely means going to church. We have to follow the example Jesus set for us on a daily basis. In everything we do. Die to our self, and walk in love. If we do that, we’re teaching our children what it truly means to be a Christian, and personally, that is better than anything they can gleam from a church service. God bless.

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  31. Thanks for this, Melissa. There’s been some discussion above about integrating the kids into the service and concern that they won’t actually pay attention if they don’t understand the sermon, etc. I’ll admit, I sometimes look at my kids reading a book, apparently oblivious to the sermon, and I wonder if they are getting anything out of it. But then I remember that I used to bring Asterix books to read during the sermon, too, and I was the sort of kid who focused on books so intently, a classmate could barf at my feet and I wouldn’t notice. There’s a lot to be said for simply learning the habit of going to church every week and learning that important things are sometimes boring things, but we do them anyway. Seriously, what adult is never bored in church?

    So it’s great to integrate kids into the service, and I love the way that our congregation involves them in readings, passing microphones during discussion, etc. But it’s OK to have stuff that isn’t for kids, even if the kids are present.

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  32. I love this post. Mirrors thoughts I’ve been having for a long time. My husband and I don’t have children. When we’ve gone to churches with “kids’ worship”, we realize that we can go months at church with very little interaction with children, and this hasn’t seemed right at all. I grew up sitting next to my parents in the pews, and absolutely believe it deepened my adult faith. I do believe that our current culture in general celebrates entertainment to an alarming degree, and see lots of negative consequences of the current generation needing constant entertainment to stay engaged.

    That said, our church is transitioning slowly away from children’s church, and as a kidless person, I have LOVED it. I love getting to know other people’s children in that context…it ministers to me and teaches me. There has to be a balance for sure. Why not involve kids in our worship time as much as possible? Have them read versus they’re memorizing in bible class? Have them lead prayers and songs? Now THAT would make them feel truly invested and a part.

    Thanks for this post!

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  33. I think everyone should do what works best for their family. That being said, let us remember that “worship” should be a daily part of our lives, showing through our love and actions. It has nothing to do with a ceremonious sequence of events that take place within the walls of a brick and mortar building on a Sunday morning (or Wednesday evening, or Saturday etc.) I, for one, am thankful that the fellowship I congregate with provides music and Bible lessons for children’s classes on a level they can grasp, while the adults are fed with the Word in their own Sunday morning Bible study without the noise or distractions of fussy toddlers. I don’t see how a parent can get much out of a Bible study while chasing a rambunctious two year old around the building (I have been that parent before!)

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  34. Pastors need to make perfectly clear that all the people in his church is a family. A very special kind of family because God choose us and put us together in the body of Christ, being the Head. He ( Jesus ) said, “Suffer the little children to come unto Me.” Now if we are true believers then we must heed to His words and not only the children be in the building but be part of the church, ( ” The body of Christ.”). They need to know how to sing, praise God, and worship as well as everyone else. The also need the “milk” of the Word so they can grow there by. Later on if they have any questions they need to ask their parents at home after church. Children don’t stay children for long. They will grow up and be a vital part of the body of Christ. The scriptures tells us ” Raise up a child in the way they should go and they will never depart from it. It take a lot of love to do this. The whole church needs to be involved in this type of family devotion. If this is perfectly clear from the get-go I believe we all will see the church membership grow because what people are looking for is the real deal and not something polished os shinny if you get what I mean. God is real and we need to be also. With love brother Tom.

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  35. I’m sorry if the word “distraction” for children in church, made you bristle. You used it referring to your 6 year daughter in church, ‘She is tired, squirmy, talks loudly, wanders, asks questions, spreads out her things, and distracts.’ Now, I feel a need to explain. My intention was to present another paradigm that worked well in our lives pastoring a church. In our younger years, we were at a mega-church in the states, just like you described, where children were doing their own worship separately, 2,000+members, 28 staff, ministries for all ages, creativity, kind of a dream team, with amazing volunteers, as well. My kids were raised there and I didn’t see the kind of difficult transition to adult worship with them or their peers. As we started out in youth work, we will always have a heart for kids.

    Our kids grew up, we moved to an English speaking church in Europe and suddenly had a ‘small’ church with only two pastors, Senior and youth pastor, no CE director or paid Sunday School help. Our church grew to 600 people quickly, with 200 children under the age of 12. I emphasize, what a wonderful thing, 200 adorable children! Needless to say, that’s a lot of little legs running, arms waving, and mouths crying and speaking, so yes, it was distracting for the parents, the older generation, the whole congregation and the preacher. The noise level was high. Like I said with 65 nationalities and many different denominations and traditions, there were many STRONG opinions how to solve the problem so the older people wouldn’t leave. (some could not handle the noise) and so we could all hear the sermon. If we wanted intergenerational worship, we had to solve the problem of noise and distractions that normal children produce. We learned there is not only one way to worship, we had to include everyone in the conversation and be open to other ideas and not fixate on our own set of ideas that we all held. Some, wanted the children in the whole service just like you said, to imitate and learn, with no S.S. or children’s church. Others liked the idea of having the children worship separately and were sensitive to the noise in worship. The once a month family service included all points of view. It took finesse, creativity and a lot of work, to be inclusive to children of all ages and adults of all ages. My previous thread explained it. Because, our youth pastor needed to be in the service, the teenagers met before the service for their small group and all sat together in the balcony for worship. It was a beautiful, inclusive worship. So different from the American mega church experience I had grown accustomed to. I am grateful for both rich experiences. Now, in our 60’s we are back in student ministry in Europe. So our love for kids has never diminished. We are trying to reach unchurched kids, introduce them to Jesus and get them going to a church.

    I must say however, monthly family worship can go terribly wrong as well. The small church (50 people) we are members of now (not on staff) has a monthly ‘All Age Worship’, where the adults without children, feel like they are in Sunday School. We do crafts in church, have a dumbed down experience with kiddie songs played on a CD and a quiz-like ‘talk’ with questions meant for kids. The 15 children who the pastor is trying to appeal to, sit in the back of the sanctuary playing with toys and drawing pictures, not even listening or participating in the songs or the message just for them. The questions hang in the air, with pastor answering them. It’s all very awkward and has made me, a life long church goer, not want to go to church that Sunday. I walk out of church saying to myself, ‘this is not for all ages, and is not even reaching the children.’ Obviously, not every pastor is gifted in connecting with children or pulling off a family service. Not every pastor is open to change or new ideas. My intent was to bring some discussion of great experiences for children and adults alike to find ways to worship together, where all can find the peace of God.

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  36. “I once took my daughter out the service to correct disobedience five different times. I’ve marched to the bathroom multiple times during every sermon I’ve ever heard.”

    Do the writer’s children enjoy church?
    Is she modelling God’s love?
    Do the children understand that their needs have priority?

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    • I’m the writer. I sometimes enjoy church, sometimes I don’t. Like all people, I suspect. I hope I’m modelling God’s love. God is patience, kind, and has expectations about our lives in the world. I wouldn’t let my kids stand up in scream in the middle of library time or to pull things off the shelf at the grocery store, either. Final question – what a painful and mean spirited suggestion.

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  37. As a children’s minister, this article obviously peeked my interest. I frequently have conversations with parents about when and why kids should be in “adult service” as opposed to “kid’s service.” So while this article did not surprise me, it did bring some thoughts to mind.
    I found it interesting that the article never actually quoted the National Survey on Youth and Religion’s findings, but rather summarized what the author remembered. That being said though, according to the author, “High school and college students who experience more intergenerational worship tend to have higher faith maturity.” And I agree 100%. All high school and college students should be in an adult service. “Youth” has been misunderstood by the author as anyone not an adult. If you look further into the NSYR (youthandreligion.nd.edu) you find they define “youth” for the purposes of this survey and its findings as 13-17 year olds. It is key to understand the difference in “youth” ministry and “children’s” ministry and in how “church” should be presented to “youth” as verses to “children.”
    The second sentence of the ninth paragraph (“In the moment I too long for children’s church, for an age-appropriate, entertaining space away from me.”) tells me a lot about the author’s perception of Children’s Ministry. When Children’s Ministry simply becomes “an age appropriate, entertaining space away from [parents]” while they engage in REAL church, it is simply babysitting and should be stopped. If the church she is a part of viewed the Children’s service as babysitting, or if in fact that is all it amounted to, then I am in agreement that a change was needed. Too often those who are not directly involved in Children’s ministry believe it is simply fun and games with a little Bible thrown in. When in fact, Children’s Ministry, when done correctly, is a vital opportunity to equip children to have a relationship with Jesus. Children’s service is not child care so an adult can learn in REAL church, it is a place children can go to learn in age appropriate and engaging ways while their parents are also learning in age appropriate and engaging ways.
    My heart breaks for the author of this article and her children as I read the third paragraph. It is clear that NO ONE in that pew, or perhaps even that sanctuary, is learning in age appropriate and engaging ways. The purpose of a weekly gathering of believers is to worship and learn about God, not to learn how to sit on a pew. Forcing children to sit quietly during an adult sermon that is irrelevant to them, is simply teaching them that church attendance is what is important, not a relationship with God. A child will learn very quickly that church is a boring place to be (aside from the socializing) and that God is not really meant for them at their young age. The 6 year old reading a picture book during the sermon will become the 16 year old on face book during the sermon, which will be the 26 year old zoning out during the sermon. Yes, they may be in “church,” but what is really being learned? And what are mom and dad really getting out of “church?” An hour spent trying to force adult behavior from a child is not spiritually beneficial to anyone, including everyone sitting around you.
    I could go on. I could address the fact that a child who goes to Children’s service does not feel embarrassed or unloved. I could address the fact that adult service is not “real church” and that we cannot teach that one way is right, while others wrong. I could address learning styles and how different children are from adults. I could address how families should be demonstrating faith and worship at home 7 days a week and allow for 1 hour a week to be age appropriate rather than intergenerational.
    I guess what it really boils down to is what are you really teaching? What are you really communicating? Children need a place to learn that they are a part of the church NOW. That God is relevant to them where they are today. That the Bible is true, useful, and for them – not when they are adults, but today, as children. This cannot be done in an environment a child finds boring. That is why I believe with all my heart, #childrensministrymatters

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, what hurtful things to read. I’m the writer, a pastor, and currently a children’s minister. I don’t think you know enough about my family, the dynamics of our church, or our children’s ministry to make these sweeping and painful judgments.

      Again, I definitely sense that we are simply at odds as to what happens in worship. I don’t think worship is about “learning about God.” It’s about worshiping God. And it’s about being the body of Christ. What I hope I’m communicating to all our children is that they are vital to our worship life as ministers of the Gospel. To my child I want to communicate that I’m willing to take her to the bathroom.

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  38. I’m going to close comments on this post. Too many mean-spirited and painful judgments about my parenting, ministry, and care of children despite knowing almost nothing about those parts of my life. I’m glad people have been able to read this, and that some have been encouraged and that a few people have begun to consider inviting children into worship. Please be kind to one another.

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