(Editor’s Note: Church leaders differ on their opinions about including young children in their worship services, and we believe it’s a good issue to discuss. We invite you to share your view in the comment section below.)
Recently, I’ve read two articles in which two pastors for whom I have great respect and admiration blasted churches that do not allow children in their adult Sunday morning service. I disagree with them.
I have no problem with pastors and churches that choose to allow children into their services. My problem is when the issue is positioned as a matter of theology rather than methodology. For example, most people that let kids in the sanctuary use a verse like this “Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14) Great verse and a great reminder that we should always bring kids closer to Jesus, but unless your pastor is Jesus, then this verse doesn’t really apply! As a pastor, you teach about Jesus (hopefully), but so do other environments in your church.
Again, I don’t see a scriptural mandate for either method, but I do believe this verse tells us we need to build bridges and remove barriers for kids to come to Jesus. So a church has to decide which policies best do that. Here a are a few reasons we believe our policy of not allowing kids into the sanctuary is more effective at bringing kids and adults to Jesus:
- Children learn at their level -Appropriate topics are given at appropriate ages and presented in appropriate methods for their particular stage of development.
- Children like church -How many people do you meet that say they hate church because their parents forced them and it was boring? Why do that to your kids? Don’t you want them to learn about Jesus AND enjoy it?
- It allows parents to worship/learn undistracted -Our conviction is that the parent is more responsible for the spiritual development of a child than the church, so we need to make sure parents are being edified and encouraged in God’s Word. This is much easier when they’re not trying to keep their children pacified or entertained during service.
- It allows people throughout the service, both seekers and disciples alike, to focus on the experience rather than being distracted by crying, fussing, or bored kids. (This is especially challenging in our meeting space, which has great acoustics and carries every sound with crystal clarity.)
- It frees the pastor to discuss “adult” topics without having to filter things for young ears. I don’t mean this allows me to cuss, but it does allow me to discuss serious things like sex without having kids hear things they are not ready for yet.
So many people in our church have told us how thankful they are for this policy, but a small minority don’t like it (you can’t make everyone happy).
Here is a list of the very intentional things we do to make this work for us…