The kids. What do we do with the kids? Did you know nursery and childcare facilities and staff are what draws many, many families to church? And if the parents find a church community below their expectations, they often leave.
Here's how this generally goes down on Sunday:
"Here's your class, kids! Have fun! Oh, I'm sure it will be fun, look who else is here! It's SuzyQ, and isn't her dress so cute?! No, you don't want to come with me, it would be so boring for you. You can do Big Church when you're bigger. This is fine, it will be fine, it'll even be fun if you try a little. No, you cannot have your DS. Put it back in my purse. PUT IT BACK in my purse, you can have it on the way home.....Did you like Children's Church? Did you have fun? What did you do? I said when we get in the car!"
Next comes the great nursery drop off.
"She needs a bottle, a paci and her blankie in order to walk across the room. She will only cry if you put her down. Please don't feed her. Last time she choked on the Cheerios because she's only used to organic food....if you could be really nurturing and motherly to her, but also consistent with sharing and definitely make her sit in the corner if she bites someone again. Is there someone who could just kind of follow her around? It would make me feel so much better. Thanks. Have fun little Sweety! Oh, she's starting to cry. You'll take care of this right?.....Did that woman just wiped my kid's nose without washing her hands? Did they change her diaper? Why did they change her diaper? It was barely wet!"
But what about tweens?
"Hi, this is Leonard Jr. He goes by Lenny. Do ya'll have adult supervision at ALL times? Is there any way you could keep a fire extinguisher close? He has a little history with fire issues...I'm pretty sure it's because we never went camping when he was younger. Anyway, um...are you going to do some games or do you have donuts....? Oh, good! You have video games, because our last church wanted the kids to interact with each other and the adults, and we found that created some interpersonal conflict. This is so great! Lenny, it looks like you'll fit right in here."
And while I don't have a teenager, I remember being a teenager and I'm pretty sure the following conversation may be the most verbatim.
"Mom, I don't want to sit with you guys. All of my friends sit together. No, they don't want to sit with my family, that'd just be weird. We listen. Really!! We do. Gosh, I just don't get the big deal? Why does it matter where we sit or who we sit with or whose hand we're holding during church? We're there to worship God! Why are you watching us anyway? And usually we only start holding hands during the prayer time. Thanks. And afterwards a bunch of us want to go to DQ....to hang out. Well, of course in cars, where else would we sit? (this was back when there was no indoor seating at the local DQ, anybody remember that?) Great, so I'll see you at church and I'll be home by 10:00."
Whew. Glad that's over.
Can somebody PLEASE give me some good reasons for seperating by age on Sunday morning? When did this start? Whose idea was it? Why did we go along with it? Here are the reasons I've heard.
too youngnot well behaved
need a break
need time to focus on God
don't know what to do about communionthink subject matter is too deep/heavy/PG 13
want to worship, not be distracted by kids
need to feel welcomed
aren't used to little kids around
like it quiet when they worship
I have an answer for all of those. All.of.them. This doesn't surprise you, does it? But that might get a little tedious. If you beg, I might share more, but here I'm gonna lump together some of the biggies:
Children are distracting, disruptive, & noisy.
Yes, they are. So what!? When did worshiping as group of people who love God become something un-distractable, un-disruptable and decidedly quiet?
Worship does take focus. Focus on the Creator of all. Focus on what He's done. Focus on who He is. Children are a great big part of what God's done and who He is.
Being able to worship God and take care of the needs of snotty-nosed, noisy children does take a level of patience and understanding. But that level is bottom-ground believer's faith. This is not one of those "have to mature into it" kind of issues. This is people are more important than things. Others are more important than self. God is not waiting for the children to be quiet so we can worship him. He's not! Have you asked Him?
I don't understand the rationale behind asking other adults to facilitate "Kids Worship" because the kids might interrupt my worship of God . What kind of value does that place on the adult facilitators? On Sundays at church as well as every other day of the week, I’m modeling worship for my kids. And modeling it for the other kids and adults around me. If you watch my life and don't see and hear worship, shame on me. If you watch me on Sunday morning, you’ll see me sing, pray, raise my hands, bend down and correct my son who is kicking the seat in front of him, and go right back to raising my hands and singing my heart out. Am I less of a worshiper because I had something else to do at that moment? Am I less authentic or more authentic because I welcome the cost of distraction in order to gain the goal of kids who know their mom loves God and wants them to worship Him too?
Children are too young, uninterested & not well behaved
Too young? When do they become old enough to worship? Can my child worship in the nursery? Can she worship? Does she think? Can she think about her creator being so fresh from creation?
When will we let her prove her worthiness to worship with the rest of believers? Have I proved my worthiness to do so? Because there are loads and loads of folks who would say I'm seriously disruptive!
What about in the preschool room? In the K-2nd class? In Kid's Church? Are they worshiping there? Are we telling them to worship there? I don't know.
I'm with them on the uninterested part. Sometimes it's really hard to be interested in worship. Especially when I'm self focused and waiting to see what's in this worship service for me. Have we taught our children that worship is about God? About bringing something to God? Providing something for God? So us big people tend to hind our disinterestedness. It's not any more holy just because it's quiet. Knowing God intimately breeds interest. In adults and children.
Children are not well behaved. Shame on us. Seriously, seriously shame on us. Children are not new to creation. Their issues are not new to creation. Their schemes and tactics and disobedience are not new to creation. If we, as believers, take responsibility to teach our own children and to teach other parents how to teach their children according to principles in the Bible instead of pop culture, this shouldn't be a problem for long. But somehow it's really hard for a parent who has a child who disobeys to take responsibility for it as their problem. And stuffing all the kids away from the eyes of the whole group of believers does a disservice to those parents. Because we have people who have done this. Who can help. Who can teach.
Ok, guys, I don't have time today for the other areas. Sheesh! I got on a roll there. Oh, well, maybe tomorrow if this post doesn't stir up enough arguing.
p.s. Sometimes my kids go to the nursery. Sometimes my kids go to Children's Church, everyone once in a while even Sunday School. What I've seen there are adults who genuinely care about my kids and teach them from the Bible and pray for them. For all of that I'm truly thankful. This argument is in no way aimed at the integrity, effectiveness or motivation of people who serve children.I love those people! It's aimed at figuring out if worship of God could be done better if we did it altogether.