At our Church, the children are invited to and encouraged to attend 'Big Church' (as common culture refers to it). And I like it. I have friends who don't, and find that what works at their Church is for the kids to go to 'Kids' Church'. As parents we have reasons why we feel our particular situation works well for us - and when you dig deeper, perhaps we even feel it would work better for others also.
So who is getting it right?
As Christian parents, one of the biggest desires we have is for our children grow up to choose Jesus, to walk with Him, stay in church, and ultimately that we will be able to share eternity with them. And if you give any weight to the articles that abound, our decision as to which kind of church our children attend is going to play a huge part in that.
It may be a comforting thought that if we send them to Kids Church (alternatively, if we include them in Big Church) then they will not choose to walk away as they get older - that somehow this one point will be the decider. However, just like anything in life that is of value, there is no simple 'hands off' solution. There really isn't.
I have read many articles about the benefits of corporate worship on the life-faith of the child but was challenged recently by an article directly confronting the idea of children being a part of 'Big Church'.
It raised some important issues that really came down to one main point:
When including children in corporate worship, we need to be intentional about their involvement and what we are teaching them about Church and their place in it.
If we distract them with food, activities or toys - are we teaching them methods of self-distraction, and that Church is for "someone else"? If those leading out are all grown-ups - are we aiming over their heads and reinforcing the message that Church is not for them?
Of course, there is a flip side of this coin: Kids' Church requires just as much intention when it comes to looking at what we are teaching children about service and tolerance by how we present and what we don't say.
The reality is that either situation can have terrible consequences - and terrific potential! The deciding factor is how intentional we are and understanding what we are really teaching them through their Sabbath morning experience. Are we teaching them they have a place, they belong to a Family, they have a purpose, and that worship is about Christ and that they too can contribute?
This is the challenge not just to Children's Ministries leaders, but to parents and the church family as a whole.
So, when it comes back to the story of two churches, who has it right? We both do - if we are approaching the situation with a humble heart lead by God, and the willingness to intentionally disciple our kids for Christ.
Disclaimer - the thoughts an opinions in this article are that of the author and not of the SQ Children's Ministry Department. We recommend that you consider the article above with prayer and Bible study. May God bless you.