Thursday, 8 July 2010
Kids in Church - good or bad?
Oh my gosh what an emotive issue. I am writing this after reading 'Old Geezers' blog at:
I first read this a week ago but felt so incensed that I needed to calm down before posting on it! Not incensed at Old Geezer I should point out, whose blog I love as it always raising thought provoking questions - you should check it out! But at the responses to his post. The initial question being, in a nut shell, 'should kids sit in church with their parents or go out to Childrens Church?'. Of the comments posted, probably 95% said that kids should sit in church with their parents and be taught to be quiet. I can feel my blood boiling already (ok so reading it again, I didn't calm down..).
My own comment was along the lines of, why do you go to church? is church the place to teach your kids to be quiet?
I mean I go to church to worship God and to learn from the teaching. Should I expect my 14, 6 and 4 year olds to worship and learn on the same level as me? No of course not! I wouldn't expect them to learn on the same level as me in any subject. So why do we expect our kids to in church? Yes I could take them to church and make them listen to the whole thing, but what would that achieve?
1. They would be bored
2. they would distract me- partly because they are bored and partly because I would be worrying about them being bored, or because I have to take them out
3. they would learn that church is somewhere they go to be bored (great advert for church then)
4. they would not understand most of the sermon/preaching, so they would be now confused and bored.
5. what does this teach them about church? that it is somewhere you go to be bored AND confused.
Yes I could teach my children to be quiet for an hour or more, but I don't think Church is the place to learn manners or being quiet. My kids are all well behaved and would probably do this without a problem. But I want them to want to go to church. To want to go because they understand about Jesus, that they want to worship him, they want to learn more about him. And that is what they currently do. If they have to miss church because they have been invited elsewhere they get upset! Even the 4 year old learns something every week. They receive their own teaching in their groups and it is on their level. The teenagers talk about things relevant to their age too, which I think is particularly important at a really difficult age, where any little thing sets them apart from their peers.
At our church we mix it. For the first 20 mins we are all in together for some all age worship - its focussed on the kids but fun for adults, then they go of to their groups (or Sunday School) and we get the adult bit. Good balance and we all get to learn in our own ways...
I accept that in some churches there isn't a choice and it probably depends on the type of church you go to. Even though we split half way in ours, its still very informal and babies are often in the main service so their is some noise, but people don't mind that, they are open enough to recognise that we are all there to worship God, whatever the age or circumstance.
I like to think I can usually see the other side of any discussion, but on this one I am stuck I have to say.