Children in the worship service

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by thomas not doubting, Aug 30, 2006.

  1. thomas not doubting

    thomas not doubting
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    I'm curious as to what everyone believes (and what their church practices, which may not be the same!) in regards to having children in the worship service.

    When I first became a Christian, 30 years ago, it was in a General Conference Baptist Church. It was the first Christian church (and Baptist church as well) that I had ever been in. This church had two Sunday morning worship services and an hour in between for Sunday school classes (all ages). In the worship service, after about 20 minutes had progressed and before the sermon began, all the children up to third grade (about 9 years old) were dismissed for "children's church". (Of course, very small children were in the nursery or preschool rooms).

    I thought this to be a wise practice, as the children could go to a program that was geared to their age level and attention span.

    Sometime in the 1980's, with a new pastor, they dropped that practice (as well as several other practices). Children were not dismissed sometime during the service, if you brought them in, they stayed the whole time.

    When I left that church a few years ago looking for another, I went to a "bible" church recommended by a friend. Their services were quite unusual, one service two and one half hours long with a half hour coffee/fellowship break after the first hour. The first hour was all singing, announcements, missions presentations, etc. and a short devotional about 15-20 minutes. The second hour was ALL preaching except for a song at the end. There were NO "Sunday school" classes either hour for any age. Children from about age 4 or 5 and older were in both halves of the service.

    I thought this was a poor decision on the church's part, since all but the smallest children had to sit still through two hours of services. I remember one time sitting in a pew with families having children on either side of me. The children were sitting on the floor, then in the pew, then in their parents laps. The were coloring in coloring books their parents had brought. then coloring in the bulletins, sitting, lying down, whiney, bored, crying, etc. I'd say they were about 7 or 8 years old.

    Now I am certainly not trying to blame the children, I can remember sitting through terribly boring church services as a kid. It's unrealistic to expect children of 5, or 7, or 9 years of age not to get distracted or fidgety sitting still for that long. In my opinion, it's much better to have a 'children's church' they can go to, sing some children's songs, burn off a little energy, listen to some stories, etc.

    After a few Sundays I left that church, trying a local Independent Baptist Church. In that church, children from the 5th grade and younger were dismissed for children's church about 5 into the service (after greetings, one hymn being sung and announcements).

    I was glad to see some churches still doing this, and still believe this is the best solution of all, if possible for the church.

    I do think that once a child is about 12 or 13, they should be able to sit through an adult service of an hour or perhaps an hour and fifteen minutes.

    I realize some churches are too small to do this, and some others have enough to do just keeping their Sunday school staffed with enough adults.

    I don't remember this ever being discussed on the Board, and am curious as to what other Baptist churches do.
     
  2. Baptist Believer

    Baptist Believer
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    Well I sympathize with some of what you say, but I've participated in adult-oriented worship services since I was five.

    Was it often boring for me? Yes.

    Did I wonder what made the pastor so angry that he shouted all the time? Yes.

    Did my mother occasionally allow me to have a piece of paper and a pencil to draw with when she thought the sermon was well beyond my ability to understand? Yes.

    Did I learn the discipline of sitting sit and being polite, even if it didn't satisfy my selfish urges to do something else? Yes.

    Did my parents take appropriate disciplinary action against me when I misbehaved during worship? Yes. It only took them taking me out of the service about three times throughout my childhood for me to straighten up.

    Did I actually learn something by remaining in the worship service? Yes.

    Every child is different. Some will learn better by being in the adult worship service, and others might benefit from a "children's church" format. At a previous church, I volunteered for a time with a "Children's Church" and realized that the program they offered would have been surprisingly ineffective and spiritually destructive for me. It wasn't much more than a glorified "big group" time in Sunday School, with a heavy-handed emphasis on trying to get children to pass through the waters of a baptistry -- whether or not they had any intention of being a disciple of Jesus. :(
     
  3. whatever

    whatever
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    I have come to believe that families worshipping together, and discussing the service together afterward (especially the sermon, but other parts as well), is the best way to go. I believe that it is the parents' responsibility to ensure that the children engage with the service as best they can. A sympathetic staff can be a big help in this as well.

    I don't have a big problem if anyone else has a separate children's service unless it is just a babysitting thing while the parents worship. I don't think it is right to ask people to miss the service just so others can worship without having to tend to their children. My wife and I want our children to worship with us, and I do not see parenting during worship as a distraction. Instead I see it as another act of worship.
     
  4. James_Newman

    James_Newman
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    We have a Sunday school class in the morning, and then the children sit with us through two regular services. My son is seven years old, and while he doesn't like sitting through two hour-long sermons each Sunday, he is capable of it, even if he has to be reminded to sit still some times. He does actually learn things during the sermons even when he appears to be daydreaming. I'm always surprised to hear him repeat things the pastor said. But we definitely like to have the children involved in the worship. We usually allow some time during the afternoon service for any children who want to to come to the front and sing.
     
  5. corndogggy

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    Also you have to remember that to directly confront some of the things that are going on today, some of the sermons could very well be too scary or just downright inappropriate for younger listeners. In this case, no, kids should not be around at all.
     
  6. Scarlett O.

    Scarlett O.
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    We have a children's church and they leave just before the sermon. It was our pastor's idea to have them from ages 4 to about 9 go to small groups and have bible study and more worship on their level. They don't have to go, but they are encouraged to. The pastor allows each parent to make that decision.

    There are about 3 ladies who rotate this so that they don't miss out on the adult worship and there are about 4-6 very responsible young people who rotate and assist them, but the young people can't participate but once a month. They need to be in the adult worship service.

    With AWANA at our church and children's church, our children have become more spiritually mature. When they finally are of age to come to the adult service, they feel convicted bring friends from school who are unchurched and they just show a maturity at their age that my generation didn't have.

    I think children's church can be a good thing. But only if done properly and not as a means to "get the kids out" of the worship service or to provide a "nanny".
     
    #6 Scarlett O., Aug 31, 2006
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2006
  7. Bible Believing Bill

    Bible Believing Bill
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    In our chruch under age 4 are in the nursery. Ages 4 - 7 are in Children's chruch, Ages 8 - 12 in Junior Chruch, and 13 + in the main service.

    I have recently taken over as youth leader since our youth pastor left the church. We have 4 ladies who take turns with the 4 -7 year olds, my wife and I take turns with the 8 -12 year olds. Also the 8 -12 year olds attend the main service the 4th Sunday of every month.

    On thing the former youth pastor did, that I would like to get back to if I can increase the youth attendance is to have the kids run the service they Sunday they are upstairs. The kids would serve as song leader, read the announcments, be ushers, greet people as they enter, and the youth pastor would give the message. Unfortunalty since the youth pastor left we are only avg. about 5 kids in the 8 -12 age range. Since summer is over now we will be doing some visiting and trying to get the kids back in chruch.

    Bill
     
  8. North Carolina Tentmaker

    North Carolina Tentmaker
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    I would agree with whatever on this, I think families should worship together. When our first child was born we were members of smaller churches that did not have nursery or children’s church type classes so we kept our son with us in all services. He was very well behaved. When later children were born we were in a larger church with a nursery and children’s church. We found that our kids did not get much spiritual instruction from these activities and then when we tried to bring them into the adult worship service they were much more disruptive. Also because there were children’s activities available several members of the church wanted to know why we had our kids in the main worship service. We are now members of a smaller church again and like in much more. We have children’s Sunday school classes but other than that our kids are with us in every service. I won’t say I never have to get on to them but they are fairly well behaved.

    I would be careful in discounting what children can learn from the adult message. Sometimes they get things wrong and ask questions about it later but I am often amazed at just how much they are learning. Often at family alter time later in the week questions will come up relating to something said in one of the sermons from Sunday. Worship time should draw families closer together and that is hard to do when they are in separate rooms.

    I understand what corndogggy means about some messages not being appropriate for all ages but I believe that is the exception not the rule. Most messages can still be preached and phrased in ways that are appropriate. The younger children may not understand everything the preacher is talking about, but then that gives parents opportunities to discuss things at their own pace later. I was preaching on Amnon at a neighboring church a while back. As we went through the story we got to the part where Tamar was raped by her brother Amnon. Another time I was preaching on David and Absalom and we got to the part where Absalom had intercourse with David’s wives on the rooftop. I have preached on Reuben’s sin with his father’s wife, the assault on Dinah, and many other sexual sins and stories. I was able to do this without phrasing things in a way that was offensive or too much information for small children. If I can’t say it with kids in the room do I really need to say it? There may be some cases where you do need a special adult service but these should be exceptions and you can make accommodations for them.
     
  9. Pete

    Pete
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    Last Church usually had the kids in from start though announcements and first hymn, then mum and self would take them out to Sunday school. As for in Church service vs Sunday school/children's Church whatever you want to call it, I just say it's up to the kid which one they go to if Church has both.

    It's great getting the kids doing things up front in Church service........that's about the only time you can be sure everyone is paying attention ;)
     
  10. SBCPreacher

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    We have kids in the nursery until they're 5. We have children's church during the morning worhsip for kids 5 until 2nd grade, but they don't leave until about half way through. 3rd grade on up stays in the sanctuary. Folks aren't required to follow this, but we do encourage it.

    One reason why we have kids in nursery or chidlren's church is this: We want mom and dad to hear the message. Some families that come aren't used to being in church, and therefore their kids aren't used to it either. Some of the parents feel that if they have to spend the whole hour having to fight with the kids, they can do that at home a lot easier!

    The goal is not just to make it more comfortable. It so that parents can hear the gospel.
     
  11. rbell

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    We have a children's church for 4-5 year olds and first graders. It takes place during the sermon time of each of our morning services. When we have a fifth Sunday, we don't have children's church.

    And since we also don't have CC on Sunday evenings, I feel we amply provide for corporate family worship time. Not to mention that in this day and age, there aren't too many intact families left to worship together. :(

    Our principles that we build our children's church on are the following:
    • It will be a worship service that the kids attend. Not babysitting, not play time, but worship. We'll gear it to be fun, of course, but fun in and of itself is not the ultimate goal.
    • It will be done VERY well. We refuse to allow Children's church (we call it Kids' Own Worship) to be thrown together, or done poorly. We expect the very best from our leaders, and evaluate things often.
    • Its goal is a transitional worship experience. We are getting the kids ready for "big church." That is why we limit the ages. Our philosophy here is an 11 year-old should be able to sit through church, participate, and glean something.
    Our workers each have one service per month (that's two services per day, four weeks per month--8 services and 8 teams of workers). We have about 35 folks who work with our kids own worship. Three of our teams are led by students (they're in charge of the entire thing). Feedback we've gotten is that two of those groups are the best ones. (Way to go, students!) All total, eleven of our childrens church workers are teenagers.
     
  12. Filmproducer

    Filmproducer
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    We attend a fairly large church, and although there is a cc and a nursery, we have always had our children with us in the service. Our son attends SS, but we all worship together. In fact, my son, (9), takes notes during the service. We always talk about them later on. It has really helped him grow spiritually. As for my daughter, she is only 3, but she can sit still, and is quiet. As long as she is not bothering anyone I don't feel I should have to put her in the nursery. (A group of mothers once suggested that it was cruel to keep her in the service because of the simple fact she had to be quiet and still) I say the younger they learn the better.
     
  13. bapmom

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    Our church we are in now has 4 and under in nurseries, but all others stay in the services, except Sunday School. At first I was skeptical as to how well little ones could sit still, but I was not going to get them into the habit of drawing or reading during the preaching either. I was allowed to do that as a child, and for years as an adult I had a hard time making myself listen to the sermon.

    Someone gave me a very good tip though, which has helped all of our children. This would be for when your child is too young to read or write yet. Give the child a paper and pen, and tell them to listen for a specific word that the preacher says. Pick a word like "God" or "Jesus" or "Bible"......one which would be used in any good sermon. And every time he hears that word he makes a check mark on his page. As he gets older this practice then needs to turn into writing down a thought that the preacher says, or even a question the child has about the sermon. Eventually you will find that your child is taking notes, and doing it at a fairly young age. Our oldest was writing pretty good notes on the sermon by the time she was 8. Of course check to be sure they aren't writing notes to their friends! :)

    I, too, have seen the benefit of having our whole family sitting in the church services together. There are times when they must be corrected, but that is part of teaching them how to behave.
     
  14. Brother Bob

    Brother Bob
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    Wife went back to check on my boys years ago and found them playing cards. They still talk and laugh about the busting they got when they go home. They laugh now and say "when dad told you that when we get home you getting a whipping we would tell jokes and everything trying to get it off his mind, but never did work." They say I never forgot once but I think they exaggerate a little now that they are all in their 40's.
     
  15. mcdirector

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    I think children's church can be a good thing too. My mom was children's minister and I saw a good one in action under her guidance.

    But I was a rebel :D
    We started taking our kids to church when they were very young -- past the crying stage, but still in diapers and they went with us from then on out. Didn't seem to warp them too much.
     
  16. menageriekeeper

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    As a mother, I love CC! That way I get one hour a week with no kids! ;) :laugh:

    Nope, it doesn't actually work that way, though I had a few years when it did.

    Our church has been dismissing the kids from service after a short "childrens" message, but those days appear to be at and end. Ever seen 50 kids on the altar steps with one person up there to give the "message" and provide crowd control? LOL! Last Sunday some of the younger ones were having a little tussle.

    So, it appears the new plan is to take the kids straight from SS to CC.

    Once in CC the kids have a snack(this is new),sing, have a lesson and then do various activities depending on how long winded the preacher is that morning (we went 2 hours the other Sunday). I think if well done, CC is very good for the kids and adults as well and helps to take the stress of both groups. Kids can concentrate on what they are hearing without the bother of having to sit at attention and the adults can concentrate on the sermon without worrying that their younguns are causing a distraction.

    And yes, I know whereof I speak since I'm currently the extra warm body once a month in our CC. Warm body since I'm there mostly for crowd control (we had 45 last Sunday). Various couples take turns doing the actual leading.
     
  17. mcdirector

    mcdirector
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    Hey MK! that adds a whole new meaning to your name :tongue3:
     
  18. gb93433

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    There is a lot of trash sold to church members because too many are not serious and are to lazy to get down to business with God and be focused on what is truly important. If a person had only a glimpse of what hell is like they would not want their worst enemy to go there. For so many church is just a sweet time to organize about things and eat ice cream and cake. Kids do not want to waste their time on such things. They want to see real Christian adults in action who can help them live out their faith. It has been my experience that the majority of adults are more afraid to share their faith than the adults and their parents. It is a well known fact that the number one problem kids face when they want to serve as a missionary is opposition from their Christian parents.

    I taught junior church for several years and had exactly the opposite experience. I saw kids praying for their friends and leading other kids to Christ. It is thrilling when you hear a kid sharing the gospel with their friend. As a leader I took my responsibility very seriously. Part of that is probably because I had Christian friends in high school and never once did any of them ever invite me to their church or any function and none of them ever gave me the gospel. The first time I heard the gospel was through a college student in the Navigators who had come to Christ through the Navigators.

    I would hold the kids accountable for memorizing two verses each week. I taught them how to share their faith. Kids regularly invited their friends. The sermon was on the two verses they would memorize the following week. When they returned the following week they checked with an adult to get their verses checked off. We saw kids coming to Christ all over the place. Kids were sharing their faith with other kids they knew at school. We saw some parents come to Christ who were helping their kids memorize the verses. In class I helped them start to memorize the verses. We would talk about how to share our faith with other kids. We had such an impact that kids asked to stay on after they were too old. So I had some of those kids help me. Those kids would help me until they reached high school. I had parents asking me if I would take their child.

    Every week I met with all of the workers and we prayed for each child by name. Every week we visited kids in their homes. It was exciting to see what God did. Some of those kids who are grown and have kids of their own tell me how much that impacted them.

    Show me a church that holds the adults accountable and I will show you a godly, dedicated church. It is the adults who set the example of how to make disciples. Too many are busy being concerned about the color of the carpet and their taste music that they fail to realize there is a world going to a Christless eternity and they are doing little or nothing about it. I have heard a lot kids pray prayers that would put many adults to shame. The often believe God for the impossible.
     
  19. bapmom

    bapmom
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    gb,

    excellent points! I wish every children's church were run with that philosophy and in such a dedicated way!
     
  20. webdog

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    I started sitting through the adult service at about 6. One thing that I have taken with me from that is the art of patience. I can sit completely still and silent for hours if need be. I'm the only one not sighing at the Dr.'s office :D
     

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