I believe Martin Luther King Jr said the most segregated time of the week is Sunday at 11am. He was referring to the racial divide in the churches. This was and may still be a problem. But I want to consider here another segregation that continues in our churches at the hour of worship. Where are the children? Where are the little ones? Why aren't they worshipping God with the rest of the family of God?
Many churches, although well-intentioned, will separate their children from adults during worship. They will have a form of “children's church.” Many times it is set up more like a classroom where the kids are given a lesson. Maybe they have an activity like drawing, coloring, or a craft. Possibly they will sing as well. These activities, while may be beneficial in another time like Sunday school, are not biblical worship. This is not what we are called to do during Lord's day worship.
Please don't get me wrong. I understand why many churches have children learn in a separate location and in a different way. The intention usually is to have them learn in a way that is at their level. They may feel the preaching is over their heads during the “adult church” service and want them to learn and love Jesus on their level. I get that. But is the Lord's day service a place just to learn or is it a place where we are to worship God with all of God's people? (I could ask the question next of “are the children of believers part of God's people?” but I will save that discussion for another post.)
Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, 14but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” 15And he laid his hands on them and went away. Matthew 19:11-14
The intention of this article is not to be legalistic, although I realize it might be taken that way. I just want us to really think about this. Jesus tells us to let the children come to Him. We gather on His day to worship Him. But many send our children to a different location. Could Jesus be in “children's church”? Sure. But are we called to send children away or bring them with us to Him? Are they to be under the preaching or the Word from the pastor at that time or under a different teacher? A question that I saw pastor Jeff Durbin from Apologia church in Arizona post on Facebook that really convicted me on this topic was, “If Jesus came to your worship service would He ask you where the children are?”
Why not bring your children to the worship service? If we truly want them to learn Who God is and how He is to be worshipped shouldn't they see their parents worshipping as soon as possible and as much as possible? Shouldn't we bring the very children who Jesus says the kingdom belongs to such as them to the King? If the sermon is over their head then the parents can explain it to them. If they don't understand why the service is done in the order it is then the parents can explain it to the. If they don't understand what is going on in thr Lord's supper even after the pastor explains it each Sunday then their parents can teach them. If they don't understand what is happening as they witness baptism, their parents can teach them. If they don't understand they psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs that are sung their parents can teach them. Children should see the joy of their parents worship and the joy the parents get from teaching them these thing of God. The congregation should be excited to have children in the service as this should be a sign to them that God is faithful in growing His Church.
For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” Acts 2:39
I recently saw a video shared on social media of a pastor kicking out a mother and her child during a sermon because the child made noise. He said it was distracting and their are tv rooms where she could watch. This was very sad and aggravating to see. Being the father of young children I know they make noise. I know they will squirm and cry, usually at the worst times of the service when it is quiet, but this is what kids do. I try my best to keep them quite and when they aren't I will on my own take them to another spot in the church. But they need to be with the people of God witnessing the worship of God as much as possible.
Many today are asking why so many young people are leaving the church. Why are churches not seeing the youth stay? I believe a major reason is because they were never part of the church. When they are young they go to “kid's church.” When they are in teen years they go to youth group. When they are in college years they find a college para-church ministry. Then they age out of all of these and are expected to join a church. But how are they to know how to worship in a church? They have been segregated their entire life from the corporate gathering and have not been expected to worship God rightly. Or now they join a church but get more involved in the “young adult” group where they are still with people their age and not fully integrated into the entire church community. Or, some of these people become ministers and now model the corporate gathering like a “kid's church” or youth group gathering where God is worshipped their way and not His way.
I intend to hit several of these points in more detail in coming articles. I can not hit them all here. I hope is that I can graciously lay out biblical arguments to have your children with you in the corporate worship gathering on the Lord's day. Let us really think about this. Let us not just do what has always been done but do what is best for our children and what honors God. Let us think if we should continue to segregate our children away from the body of Christ on the Lord's day.
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6