Thursday, April 19, 2007

5 Reasons Your Kids Should Go To Big Church

Here are two new buzz phrases for you:

  • Family integrated worship
  • Family integrated church
These ideas aren't new but many parents and pastors are re-discovering the that "church" means kids too. Guys like Voddie Bauchman are preaching about this everywhere they go. Southern Seminary has hired Randy Stinson as the Dean of their Christian Ed school. God's design for the spiritual development of kids in the family context is making a comeback. But does that mean kids should go to Big Church?

My church is moving this direction. Only two years back the kids didn't even know were the sanctuary was. Now we dismiss the children after about 25 minutes to KidZone Worship. Reform is a process. I'm using video clips in children's church to train the kids how to listen to preaching. We are moving in the right direction.

One problem is that many parents do not see the benefits of having their kids in the worship service. The distractions, the discipline, the potty breaks - all seem like more hassle than it's worth.

Jonathan who blogs at Excogitating Engineer (I'm not sure what that one means) posted on five reasons he wants his kids to come to Big Church:

5 Reasons Your Kids Should Go To Big Church
  1. Children can observe their parents singing praises to God and can listen to the exposition of God’s Word. Children learn by watching.
  2. Children lose the opportunity to play and not pay attention. Sitting by the parents helps them actually learn.
  3. Children are taught that God’s Word and the exposition of it is the most central part of worship.
  4. Children are taught great hymns and worship songs of the faith.
  5. By being in worship together, parents are better able to develop teachable moments using the sermon from Sunday morning.
I really appreciate hearing dad's talk like this. This is the kind of vision that I want my kids to have when they become parents.

What does your church do? Is family integrated worship on your radar?

If you have your own reasons to add to his list, leave them in the comments.

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6 comments:

Jonathan said...

Tony,

To excogitate is "to study intently and carefully in order to grasp or comprehend fully." Basically Excogitating Engineer is the best name I could come up with when I decided to give up the Reformed Dawg blog.

I appreciate your heart for children. I'm sure there are more reasons to have kids in worship with adults if we were to sit down and think it about it. The 5 reason was the best I could do during my lunch hour.

Part of the reason I feel so strongly about this (children being worship) is that I have been in churches where children were not in worship. They went to children's church, talked about 'going to heaven' and 'asking Jesus into their heart,' watched videos, etc. My kids were learning moral lessons from not only vegetables and talking lady bugs but also from movies like Lion King. When the kids told me they learned from Cymba about not lying in children's church I went through the roof. Along those same lines my youngest child (who was 3 or 4 at the time) saw a PG movie at church!

The importance of our children and giving them good biblical teaching is so often overlooked or minimized. I appreciate what you are doing on your blog.

I would be interested in seeing you discuss another issue or at least recommend some good resources on it. The issue has to do with evangelization of children (especially at VBS), discerning when they are regenerate as best possible, baptizing them, and making them part of the local body. When and how should this be done? Should we baptize young children? (I say definitely not at VBS) I'd be interested in reading your take on some of these issues.

Blessings,
Jonathan
(Excogitating Engineer)

Tony Kummer said...

Thanks for the exposition of your title - I think it works.

The pragmatic motives for having a separate "children's church" are in many ways contrary to the biblical directives for parenting. More than that, we have a big theological problem whenever we can a sub gathering "church." Church means kids too.

About VBS - this is a big issue in my life and ministry right now. I've wanted to write about it in depth but haven't made the time.

Basically we are doing our own VBS this year built around the 2 Ways To Live presentation of the Gospel.

My key insight into baptizing children is to require evidence of repentance. This excludes almost all younger converts and presents a consistent theology of baptism.

I call for repentance and faith as boldly as I can. But we don't ask for a physical response such as walking forward or raising a hand. My desire is to have every child with their parents present to counsel with one of our pastors. Then to follow this with several times meetings with the family before baptism is even an option.

Thanks for your questions and enjoy Big church this weekend.

Mike said...

Jonathan and TK,

The five reasons listed really flow into a sixth (and vital one) best summarized in Tony's last comment: "Church means kids too." Children are a vital part of the community of faith, and when they are splintered from the rest of the body at the time it has set aside to assemble together, that reality is undermined.
I know that is not the goal of most children's ministries, and I'm not trying to build a straw man here. Perceptions, however, are powerful things...especically unspoken ones in the minds of children. Our goal is to give them more relevant teaching (which, paradoxically, I plan to post on in the next day or so), and the goal is a noble one. But at what cost? Is sacrificing the five benefits Jonathan has spelled out really a justifiable trade-off? And, more to the point, does there really need to be a trade-off between child-oriented teaching and families worshipping together?
This raises the issue of, "Why a separate children's worship?" I don't think anyone would say the motive is to undermine the fellowship of the body...but is it possible that having a separate children's church is an indirect result of the erosion of the church's sense of community over a long period of time? And--more importantly--how to work toward restoring that sense of community, toward family-integrated worship? Like any other work of reformation, it doesn't happen overnight.

Tony Kummer said...

Mike,
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate your reference to perceptions. I would make this more concrete by saying we are teaching an unwritten curriculum. Lesson #1 - Real church is boring and not important.

This is a terrible thing to communicate to our kids. But too often kids get that from our programs. In children's church I labor the idea that Big church is a privilege and a very special thing God wants us to do.

Mike said...

Tony,

The timing for this post was great. I was at South Woods BC on Sunday for the 20th Anniversary of the church, and children are in the worship services there. . . and not as spectators. When the congregation sings, the children sing. The children participate in the congregational reading of Scripture. And no, they did not distract adults from worshipping at all. So the church worshipping together--children included--is neither a novel concept nor a great experiment. It's been tried and found effective...for over 19 centuries.

Tony Kummer said...

Mike,
Thanks for the report. I think that is a vision that all Christian parents can embrace. The family coming together to worship God in public as well as at home.