The most powerful lessons that children learn are not in our formal teaching plan. Despite our good intentions, children learn more from our attitudes than our Sunday school hour. This can be a powerful tool for the good – or it can erode the foundations of their faith.
Consider a child’s typical church experience. They begin in the nursery. Where almost exclusively female volunteers care for them. Then they are promoted to a Toddlers class. Again, it is mostly women who provide instruction and care. Soon they begin Sunday school proper. There is an occasional male serving, but they are often teamed with their wives to become the “crowd control.” Many churches have a children’s church. The normal organizers of this ministry are also women. This scenario has one theme repeated weekly – church really isn’t for guys.
God uses women for his glory. Certainly, this is true. He has blessed the church with these faithful servants who are training up the church of tomorrow. I see no problem with women serving, teaching, and leading in all these ways. They have been faithful when men have failed. ChildrensMinistry.com has also writen about this problem. "Historically, children's ministry has been predominantly staffed by women. According to George Barna, "Women are almost twice as likely as men" to teach Sunday school."
Pastors.com has an article titled, "Why men hate going to church," by David Murrow. He writes:
Then there's our reputation as a place for little old ladies of both sexes. Many guys feel church is a "women's thing." Most men are introduced to Christianity by women – nuns, nursery workers, Sunday school teachers, and mom. Boys meet a feminized Jesus – a tender, sweet man in a shining white dress. Most volunteer opportunities in church involve traditionally female roles: singing, sewing, cooking, caring for children, teaching, planning social gatherings, etc. There's nothing for a guy to do – unless he has a passion for attending meetings or passing out bulletins.But what does the absence of the men communicate to children? For the first ten years of their church experience men are missing. Is church really just for women? These messages can be amplified when we structure programs that are not sensitive to the unique behaviors and interests of growing boys. Too often teachers lament “all those rowdy boys” – but the Sunday school must accommodate the energy that boys bring to the learning environment. Others have written about the feminization of the church in general. I suspect that a lack of male involvement in the children’s department is certainly a contributing factor.
Men often feel uncomfortable working with children. But this should not be so. Dads and grandpas have a natural connection to children. Their deep voices command respect. Kids are often drawn to men. What about the scripture passages that instruct men to take the lead in the faith training of their children?
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4 ESV)We must challenge the godly men of our churches to get involved in children’s ministry. We should openly call on elders and deacons to accept their role in the faith training of the next generation. As long as the men stay away we are only reinforcing the unwritten curriculum.
Hear, O sons, a father's instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight, for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching. When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me and said to me, "Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live. (Proverbs 4:1-4 ESV)
For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 ESV)