Where do you think children in church should be most of the time? I think several compelling reasons point to why kids belong in the main worship service regularly.
I’ve always advocated for children’s church. It’s important to offer children’s services that appeal to different age group and developmental levels. Yet a movement in many churches today aims to always keep children separate from adults. Although children should have a children’s church where they can learn and worship God, they also need to be in the main service regularly with the rest of the church body.
What “regularly” means will vary from church to church. In the congregations where I’ve worked, 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 keeping children in church should ever be done less than once a quarter.
Why Keep Children in Church With Adults?
Here are five reasons I believe you should keep children in church (that is, the main service) regularly:
1. Children aren’t an inconvenience.
This is one reason churches remove children from regular worship services. 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 not pushing children aside. In Matthew 19:14, Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
2. Children are part of the body of Christ.
Nowhere does the Bible say children are a separate body. Instead, they’re an important part of the church. So we shouldn’t always exclude them when believers meet.
During the Feast of Tabernacles, all of Israel came before the Lord to hear the reading of the Law. That way, the children heard it and learned to fear the Lord. In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (6:1-3), he gives instructions directly to children to obey their parents. He considers them part of the church to which he’s writing.
3. Children need godly examples of how to worship.
If children never see adults in the main service worshiping, they won’t know how to worship or what is expected of them.
4. Children need to feel like they belong to the church community.
If children are always separate from the body of Christ, they’ll never feel like part of the faith community. And older church members will never get to know the children and be an example to them (unless they work in children’s ministry).
5. Children who don’t feel like part of the church will leave when they’re older.
Imagine the culture shock of a child who’s been in church all her life but has never been in the main service. She has played games in Sunday school, sung active songs, and heard 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. She graduates to “big” church. The music is strange. No games, skits or illustrations are present. Someone she’s never met preaches for a long time. She doesn’t know anyone sitting in the pews around her. And there’s no candy or prizes!
Get the picture? That’s what happens to a child who’s never attended the main service. Within a few months, maybe even a few weeks, she decides she doesn’t want to be there. If her parents make her stay, she’ll leave as soon as she turns 18. If not, she’ll leave sooner.
She’ll look for a church that entertains her and isn’t boring. If she doesn’t find one, she’ll drop out of church. This may be why so many young people are no longer attending church. They were never truly part of it to begin with.