Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Family Divided? ~ Childrens Ministries

The issue of family-integrated church services vs children ministries and nurseries, seems to be a huge issue in churches at present.  It seems to have the power to create tension and ill-feeling within seconds.  More unfortunately however, it can cause permanent division between families and the churches they love.

I am so pleased that all of our family members stay together in the church service - what a blessing it is to worship and learn together!  To be truthful, it hadn't always been that way; our son Dylan did attend the children's class for about a year.  I was unhappy about this arrangement, and asked my husband whether we could discuss the possibility of our son returning to the service with the rest of our children...and he agreed.  For clarity, I'll add here that our church offers a children's class, for children up to the age of seven, though this has now been changed to age four; Amy is obviously too old to attend, and Meg has never attended, because I figured that I didn't want to burden someone else with the responsibility of baby-sitting my small child, so that I could sit through the service undisturbed.  Plus the fact, that if I took her there myself, *I* was missing out on the preaching!...

For some time, my husband and I researched the Bible together, and found many places in which God states clearly, that children always attended worship with their parents.  Over the course of a few weeks, we listened to several sermons, read various news/Christian articles, and talked it over between the two of us.  My husband offered that he could see several biblical issues (as well as some others) that troubled him about not having our son with us during the service:

  • Our son was missing out on the preaching of God's word (from a source that God specified - a man of God), during his formative years, which we agreed was of high importance.  *Though to note, our kids do often listen to biblically sound, leather-lunged preaching, often within our home (plus our family Bible time), and so Dylan was not without GREAT preaching*

  • We discussed that there would now be an issue of "transition" whenever he returned to the service. But thought this was best done sooner, rather than later.

  • Even though we had a high degree of trust and confidence in the lady running the children's class; we agreed that, as parents, we needed to be more concerned of our children's safety.

  • We were concerned that our son seemed to comment, not on what Bible truths he had learned, but on his snack, what fun things he had played with and what so-and-so did.

  • We didn't want our son to grow up to be an immature Christian; only wanting to attend church when it is "fun" and exciting.  We want him to have a thirst for Bible preaching! 

  • We realized that there can be doctrinal differences in what other Christians believe, and so, we felt that it would be best for our family to hear preaching together, and that way my husband can deal with any doctrinal issues that might come up. 

  • We realized that one of the reasons we come to church is to hear Bible preaching from a man of God.  This is no different for children.
After some consideration, my husband decided that he wanted our son to leave the children's class and to return to the regular service with the rest of our family.  I would be lying if I said I wasn't delighted!  It felt great to be finally obeying what we could clearly see in Scripture!  Our son has now been back in the service with us for about seven months and we are LOVING IT; it is so neat to hear his take on what he heard during the sermon, and be able to discuss it together as a family!  :)

As an encouragement, here are some Bible verses (my emphasis added) referring to family-integrated worship in Scripture.  Just reading these through, in God's perfect word, was a HUGE help to us!  We hope that they are a help to you also.

"And Moses and Aaron were brought again unto Pharaoh:
 and he said unto them, Go, serve the LORD your God:
 but who are they that shall go?  And Moses said, 
We will go with our young and with our old, 
with our sons and with our daughters, with our flocks
 and with our herds will we go;
 for we must hold a feast unto the LORD" ~ Exodus 10:8-9

"Ye stand this day all of you before the LORD your God;
 your captains of your tribes, your elders, and your officers,
 with all the men of Israel, Your little ones, your wives,
 and thy stranger that is in thy camp,
 from the hewer of thy wood unto the drawer of thy water" 
~ Deuteronomy 29:10-11

"And all Judah stood before the LORD, with their little ones,
 their wives, and their children." ~ 2 Chronicles 20:13

  "Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed,
 weeping and casting himself down before the house of God,
 there assembled unto him out of Israel a very great
 congregation of men and women and children
for the people wept very sore." ~ Ezra 10:1

"Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced:
 for God had made them rejoice with great joy:
 the wives also and the children rejoiced:
 so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off." 
~ Nehemiah 12:43

"Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders,
 gather the children, and those that suck the breasts:
 let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber,
 and the bride out of her closet." ~ Joel 2:16

"And Jesus called a little child unto him
and set him in the midst of them," 
~ Matthew 18:2

"And whoso shall receive one such little child 
 in my name receiveth me." 
~ Matthew 18:5

"Then were there brought unto him little children,
 that he should put his hands on them, and pray:
 and the disciples rebuked them.  But Jesus said,
 Suffer little children, and forbid them not, 
to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven." 
~ Matthew 19:13-14

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right." 
~ Ephesians 6:1
(written unto the children at the church of Ephesus)

"Children, obey your parents in all things: 
for this is well pleasing unto the Lord." ~ Colossians 3:20
(written unto the children at the church of Colosse)

These are two videos that my husband and I found to be very helpful and informative.  One being a sermon delivered by Pastor Anderson at FWBC, and the other, the Christian documentary "Divided":

Here are some more links to resources that we found helpful (we do not endorse *everything* that these sources or individuals may believe or teach, but have included them in the hope that some of this information will be helpful to your family):

Vision Forum Ministries - Uniting Church and Family - This is a link to multiple articles, written by a host of Christian husbands and fathers, on the issue of family-integrated churches.

"Age-segregated philosophies in both organized schools and in some churches have no basis in Scripture and have actually worked to harm the church (Mark 3:25) and weaken its effectiveness (Luke 11:17; 1 Corinthians 15:33). The biblical training of covenant children is best accomplished within a wholesome, age-integrated setting (Deuteronomy 29:10-11; 2 Chronicles 20:13; Joel 2:16; Matthew 19:14); therefore we encourage a setting that unites the people of God into an age integrated group allowing the older and wiser to disciple and fellowship with younger members of the church." ~ Excerpt from

Children Do Not Belong In Church...Or Do They? ~ Blog series - Part One and Part Two

“While I believe the vast majority of those who shepherd segregated portions of congregations are well meaning and would never presume to replace parents in their biblical role, I believe the modern American practice of systematic age segregation goes beyond the biblical mandate. I believe it is a product of the American educational system, and in some instances it actually works against families as opposed to helping them pursue multigenerational faithfulness. The church’s emphasis ought to be on equipping parents to disciple their children instead of doing it on their behalf...there is no biblical mandate for the current approach.” ~ Quote from Voddie Bauchaum

 "Suffer little children, and forbid them not, 
to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven."


Loren said...

When I was a child we had Sunday School (childrens classes) and then we went to church. The "Sunday School" was before the services started (I think it was for an hour) and there was no snack. We had a bible lesson --that always tied into the upcoming sermon-- we sometimes had a craft and we always sang. I don't know what my parents did when we were in class but we ALWAYS sat with them during the service. How sad that they mutilated Sunday School and turned it into childcare.

Chelle said...

Couldn't agree with you more. We sing out alot and want our children with us.You won't believe how many people get upset cause you want your children with you.