Providing an alternate experience for children when Christians assemble has been a controversial practice within the Restoration Movement for some time now. A significant split occurred over Sunday School. Later, others opposed the practice of sending children out of the Worship Service to attend their own Children’s Church.
But, I think a greater problem may be something different than those controversies. It is more about the fact that children (and their parents) have been enticed to come to church services. Let’s look at some methods:
Various Enticement Methods:
- Bus ministry (with food).
- Puppet ministry.
- Plays and productions.
- Playground equipment.
- The parties and games of the week.
I don’t oppose how individual congregations choose to run their “ministries.” Christians in autonomous assemblies can agree upon how they do things. I don’t even oppose the use of the above listed methods for children. But here is my question:
What do children learn to expect at church?
I think we have taught an entire generation of adults to expect fun at church! And fun is not “wrong” either, but what about the purpose of our assembling? What about study, and exhortation, have they suffered?
What has caused the lack of motivation for deeper Bible study? Could it be that what we have taught folks that the church experience should be mostly about having fun? Now, if they aren’t having fun, they’re bored!
Some churches hire staff, who’s entire job it is, to dream up entertainment for the children. Is it any wonder that today’s churchgoing adults are seeking better entertainment rather than Bible study? These adults have been raised on, and are addicted to, being entertained.
We now find ourselves with adult churchgoers who have been dumbed down in Bible knowledge. In an effort to accommodate the wishes of children (and their parents), deeper Bible instruction has suffered. Act 17:11 Eph 5:19 Col 3:16
12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.
Because of a change in church priorities, many have lost the motivation to study God’s word!
If the children of this generation are hearing their parents discuss who has the best band or the best praise team, something is wrong. If the priority has become competition between neighboring churches using entertainment methods, something is wrong.
What can we do about this?
- Motivate parents to follow along with Bible sermons/lessons, looking up verses, and taking notes. Children will see the example.
- Motivate parents to open their Bibles at home and spend time studying God’s word, and children will see what is important in their parent’s lives.
- Motivate parents to spend time teaching the Bible to their children.
At some point, children need to “put away childish things.”
1 Corinthians 13:11
11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
Let’s graduate from Children’s Church!
Let’s teach children how to study God’s word.