I am an advocator of children’s church. I always have been. It is important to have children’s services that appeal to their age group for a variety of reasons. That being said, there is a movement in many churches today to always have children separated from adults. Although children should have a children’s church where they can learn and worship God, they also need to regularly be in the main service with the rest of the church body.
What regularly means will vary from church to church. In the churches where I was on staff, it meant once a month and always in special services. Other churches, because of the complications involved, may elect to do it once a quarter. I don’t think it should ever be less than once a quarter.
Here are five reasons I believe children should regularly be in the main service:
Children should not be removed from the main body for convenience sake. This is one reason churches remove children. They want a professional church service where adults can enjoy the worship without being disrupted by noisy children. This sounds good, but the Book of Acts never talks about having a professional service nor does the Bible talk about meeting our own selfish needs during church, but it does talk about children not being pushed aside.
Matthew 19:14—Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Children are a part of the Body of Christ. There is nowhere in the Bible where it says children are a separate body. They are an important part of the church and shouldn’t always be excluded when the church meets.
During the Feast of Tabernacles, all of Israel would come before the Lord to hear the reading of the Law so that the children would hear it and learn to fear the Lord. In Paul’s letters to the Ephesians, he gave instructions directly to the children to obey their parents. He considered them a part of the church that he was writing to.
Children need godly examples of how to worship. If children never see adults in the main service worshipping, they won’t know how to worship or what is expected of them.
Children need to feel like they are a part of the church community. If children are always separated from the body of Christ, they will never feel like they are a part of the church community. And the members of the church will never get to know the children and be an example to them unless they work in children’s ministry.
Children who don’t feel like a part of the church community will leave church when they’re older. Imagine the culture shock of a child who has been in church all of his life but has never been in the main service. He has played games every Sunday, sang active songs, and had every message or Bible story illustrated with a skit, object lesson or interactive device.
Suddenly the child turns 10 or 12, or in some cases, 18 years old. He has graduated to big church. The music is strange. There are no games, skits or illustrations, only some guy he’s never met preaching for a half hour or longer. He doesn’t know any of the people. And there’s no candy.
Get the picture? That’s what happens to a child who is never in the main service. Within a few months, maybe even a few weeks, he decides he doesn’t want to be there. If his parents make him stay, he’ll leave as soon as he turns 18. If not, he’ll leave sooner.
He’ll look for a church that entertains him and isn’t boring. If he doesn’t find one, he’ll drop out of church. This may be why so many young people are no longer attending church. They never were a part of the church.