Great Stuff Found on the Web — Children’s Church

I found the below referenced in a later post by Wild Boar from the Forest, saying:

If a church has “children’s church”, they do not believe in baptismal regeneration. They are also at least semi-Pelagianists.

There are no exceptions to this rule.

Wild Boar from the Forest

I’ve heard of this, but have not seen any church that has a “Children’s Church” during the actual church service. Given the church I attend where children are encouraged to be IN church, I just can’t understand why someone would want to exclude children from the Divine Service.

From Wild Boar from the Forest:

 


 

How It Begins — Children’s Church

It begins by disbelieving the effects of Baptism, and buying into the line that children can not possibly understand the sacrament of the altar until they have adult reasoning skills (Age 13-14). If children are too simple to understand one sacrament, then they are too simple to understand what happens in the service. Sunday School isn’t really the place to teach about the Divine Service, because the children are too young. Therefore, instead of singing the canticles of the church, or teaching great hymnody, children sing about arky arkies, and tell the world of their joy, joy, joy, joy, which resides deep in the depths of their heart.

“Church” becomes something entirely foreign and remote to them. They have no interest in the songs, because they do not know them. They have no interest in the liturgy because it changes every week. They have nothing to look at because most churches have all the architectural style of a cardboard box. Parents, worried about the noise and motion of little children, sit in the back, so now, even when something happens, the children can’t see it. Children get bored. Bored children get restless. Restless children get noisy. People hear the noise and think, “Gee, this church thing is just too much for them to endure.”

Some people, who aren’t all that fond of children, think, “Gee this noise in church is just too much for me to endure.” They don’t want to say anything – after all, who wants to admit that they don’t like children in church? But soon the child-haters will find an unlikely ally: the child lovers.

Children’s sermons are tried, but they don’t work because : 1) Pastor’s hate doing them. 2) Children don’t have the complex reasoning to understand object lessons. 3) Now children are even more puzzled – after all there is a part of church just for them. It must mean the rest isn’t for them at all. More restlessness ensues. Parents start bringing food to appease them. Now, full of sugared cereal, bored out of their minds, and with the message firmly entrenched in their brains that this isn’t for them, they become downright unmanageable. The adults raise their voice to try and fix the problem they themselves have created. Children don’t like church. We must provide an alternative, therefore let’s start “children’s church”. The child haters are thrilled. After all, the children go away, and they get to look as if they really love the children. The child lovers are so thrilled that the child haters are finally “on their side” that they never stop and think about who really has won the day. Hint : Not the children.

Sad really. If the churches were more interesting to look at – that is, if there were artwork and windows and something worth seeing, then maybe the children wouldn’t get bored so easily. If there were something that the children could learn easily – like a standard liturgy – maybe the children would be able to participate in the service. If Sunday school taught them something useful, like hymns, maybe they would be able to sing along. If parents stop giving them sugar the moment they sit down, and sat in the front instead of the back, maybe the children would be able to sit still better and pay attention.

Maybe if we truly believed our Lord’s when he said, “Let the little children come unto me” we would try to keep them where our Lord has promised to be – his holy word and blessed sacraments. Maybe if we believed our confessions, which say “a seven year old child knows what the church is”, we would consider that if they are smart enough to figure out the church – which our synod has been arguing over for 150 years – they are smart enough to believe our Lord’s word, “This is my body”.

But then, that’s all work and effort. Maybe it’s just easier to ship them to a classroom in the back and have them cut and paste. When they are older, then we will tell them about this church thing, and they can make their decision.

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord, LCMSsermons.com, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at KNFA.net.

Comments

Great Stuff Found on the Web — Children’s Church — 34 Comments

  1. Even with my Assembly of God background, I have never understood the Childrens Church thing!

    Family is family and must stay together even in church, which enables children to not only learn properly but to also see Christian life lived out by their parents.

    Another issue is that those working with the children essentially know nothing of doctrine and they teach some very strange things to the children, which no one really ever checks out.

    Dangerous thoughts and ideas being planted and then percolating in very fertile and active minds!

    In Church in da Pub we encourage folk to bring their children in, if need be, we talk a lot louder but the children must be there!

  2. Children’s church is so ridiculous. My congregation started that about two years ago. For the one service they do this at, the kids start out in church, but before long, they are led out for their program. I remember the one time I subbed for the message, I was given 5 minutes. Didn’t really know what to do, or how to tie in with what the adults were supposed to get. And I have worked VBS games before. I would try to incorporate as much as I could with the garbage I was given. Back to the kids worship… their game activity was ballon volleyball. And this teaches them what about Jesus, the church or anything along those lines? Stupid. I just can’t come up with a better term. And this from our brain trust of our (Baptist syle) pastor, and his select few who are so gung ho and out there that design all these CoWo things. I am so glad that any day now I will be transferring out. Just need to get the paperwork filled out….

  3. The pastor at a church we used to go to would direct the ushers, from the pulpit no less, to remove noisy children from the sanctuary. The usher would come on down and direct the parent to the “cry room”. This VERY confessional pastor alienated many a young family with this action.

    I am a firm believer that children remain in church. The problem is at my current parish they will not give my kids anything but a children’s bulletin, no order of service nothing. These are upper elementary/Middle school children I am referring to. This in and of itself has served to alienate them. Yes, I have spoken to the Board of Elders, Senior Pastor, associate pastor about this. Senior guy will not do anything about it. To me this is one reason to have the so called “Jesus-Trons” we do not.

    As Always, Just my two cents worth.

  4. My fieldwork church has children’s church during the sermon for all the kids under 6. I haven’t helped out with that or anything, but I do think it is beneficial in this church. Since the sermon is typically 45 minutes long, the children’s church people have plenty of time with the kids. This way the children aren’t just sitting in church being quiet; they are learning at their level. The children always return as soon as the sermon is over at my fieldwork church (no pulling them out for the entire Service of the Sacrament!).

    I really think that if you are intentional with what you do in children’s church (and have a long enough sermon during which to do it!), it can be very beneficial for the youngest members of the church. However, I also think that it is important for any children’s church program to take only as much time as the sermon. Otherwise, children’s church becomes an alternative to communion, which becomes “the sermon is more important than the sacrament.”

    @Stand Up and Shout #3

    I don’t understand why any pastor would be upset with having young children in church. I would much rather have my sermon interrupted every five seconds by babies crying than deliver my sermon in dead silence!

    If the reason for having children’s church is to get the kids out of the service, then that church is missing the point of worship.

  5. @Stand Up and Shout #3
    At my congregation if a child of the age you mention asks for an “Adult” bulletin, they are given one! Most congregations have extra bulletins. So ask for an extra bulletin and then give it to your children.

  6. Do you think that midweek chapel is a sort of children’s church? I mean, the kids do learn regular hymns from the hymnal, have a short message etc. It is held in the sanctuary. It is shorter than the service on Sunday, but it seems to be good for the children and they seem to like it, and they behave and pay attention. What do you think?

  7. “If the churches were more interesting to look at – that is, if there were artwork and windows and something worth seeing, then maybe the children wouldn’t get bored so easily. If there were something that the children could learn easily – like a standard liturgy – maybe the children would be able to participate in the service. If Sunday school taught them something useful, like hymns, maybe they would be able to sing along. ”

    I am going to show the above quote to my pastor. Our church has interesting things to look at, but the liturgy is different every week. We use the Lutheran Service Builder, I think, but “just because you can doesn’t mean you should!” [My favorite phrase!] I have heard it said, regarding people at the end of their lives, that when so many things are forgotten, the liturgy, prayers and hymns remain in their memory as a comfort. How can the liturgy remain in their memory if there have been so many forms used since their childhood?

  8. But doesn’t it interfere with our “worship experience” if we don’t get the kids out of the service as quickly as possible?

    As a recent convert to Lutheranism, it saddens me to see the Baptistification of so many Lutheran churches.

  9. @Concerned Seminarian #4

    Since the sermon is typically 45 minutes long, the children’s church people have plenty of time with the kids.

    45 MINUTES? Who in today’s Lutheran milieu preaches for 45 minutes? Most everyone I know preaches for half that amount of time, if that. Talk about a situation that makes adults antsy, kids much more so.

  10. I don’t recall ever belonging to a church where the children were not welcome in the Divine Service. Our present congregation can be described as quite conservative/confessional, and has an area where parents can sit with their children. It is not a large building, and the children can usually be heard talking throughout the service. I used to find it somewhat distracting, but now we don’t even notice it, and our pastor does not let these minor disturbances get in the way of things.

    What is most delightful, though, are children’s sermons that give the young ones the pure Gospel, without an ounce of moralizing. Sometimes, those sermons are a bit over the children’s collective heads, but these little ones are getting fed, just as the adults are. Anyone who heard this morning’s children’s sermon on the Baptism of Jesus would have come away having heard profound theology, expressed simply and understandably, and like me, would have breathed a silent “Amen” as the children ran back to sit with their parents.

    Johannes (a tad less curmudgeonly today)

  11. @Muttering Under his Breath #11

    Not ignorant; realistic. Can you honestly say that the children in your church pay attention to the sermon? Of all the pastors I’ve heard preach, most of them preach at an adult comprehension level. As such, the kids will either be sitting there quietly (not paying attention), playing with toys, drawing on the bulletin, or filling out the (somewhat useless) children’s bulletin. They will perk up when the pastor tells a story or uses an interesting illustration, but then it’s back to whatever it was that they were doing before. The only message about Jesus, faith, the Church, etc., that they are getting from this is that it is confusing and over their head!

    On the other hand, if the “children’s church” is done properly (age-appropriate material, age-appropriate activities, etc.), and the children are then brought back into the sanctuary following the sermon so they can participate in the rest of the service, I think that can teach the child far more about (for example) the lame man who was lowered through the ceiling than a maze with the directions: “The lame man can walk now, but he lost his cot! Help him get to the center of the maze and find his cot!”

  12. @Jen #14

    I can see the benefit of having plenty of programs for kids; just not having them at the same time as (as an alternative to) worship.

    My dad experimented with a “no children allowed” worship service once. Apparently a large number of people at the church (a previous call) were upset about all the noisy kids, and they wanted to have 2 worship services: one with kids, and one at the same time as Sunday School (so the kids wouldn’t be in church). That experiment lasted 1 service. Attendance at the “no kids service”: 1. She decided that the noise of children during worship wasn’t such a bad thing!

  13. @Concerned Seminarian #16
    My grandchildren are 8, 10, and 12, and while they don’t always pay attention to the whole sermon [many adults don’t either!], they ARE listening, because they will often comment on what they’ve heard. I realize that children’s church is probably aimed at younger children, but at what age to they “graduate” to “regular” church?

  14. @Janet #18

    At my fieldwork church, the age is 6.

    Actually, on the subject of children commenting on what they hear, one of my profs told a funny story about his daughter. When she was 2 and her sister was 6, they studied the 4th Commandment in the LC for their family devotion. They didn’t realize the younger one was listening until she spent the weekend with her grandparents. Apparently, she told her grandmother that if her parents died, she was supposed to set up a wooden box as her new parents!

  15. @Stefan #13

    Not being a “facebook” devotee, I have no idea what a “like” button is. Is it, like, I mean, you know, something you, like, press, to say, like, you like what the pastor is like, saying?

    We are too concerned that our children will get bored during the sermon, fer cryin’ out loud. We know that little children can have faith, and so we baptize infants. The children sitting in church may indeed get bored, but they are getting the Gospel, and who knows what effect those words will have on them in the future? The light goes on for children, too–and the sermon begins to make sense to them. Some when they’re ten, some when they’re twelve or so, and some when they’re older than that. In this frenetic image-driven age, sitting for and hour or so, including a 20 minute sermon may be the best thing for them. It certainly won’t hurt them.

    Johannes (like, concerned, y’know?)

  16. Seperating children out in some of these described manners is anti-Lutheran in that it sets up an age of accountability. And just when is that age, since it appears that different congregations arbitrarily set it at different times. (so much for walking together) So is the Gospel for all, or is the Gospel not enough, since you have to have your own reason to connect to it? I remember a scene for the old Jesus of Nazerath movie, when Jesus first preached. Yes, there was a seperation, with the women behind a lattice screen. But they were still present to hear the same message!

  17. @Jason #22

    I don’t think it is so much an “age of accountability” per se; it’s a question of brain development. Children’s brains do not work the same way as adult’s brains (far more realistic and “reality-based” as opposed to “abstract thought-based”). My suspicion is that most pastors preach to adult brains rather than children’s brains, so that the sermon mostly goes over the kids’ heads. It’s not that the sermon is not efficacious for them; the Word of God is efficacious in every circumstance. However, the way in which the Word of God is presented can make a big difference in how much is retained.

    This is why I said above that “children’s church” can be effective if it is done properly and intentionally (taking advantage of what we know about child development, rather than pulling them out of the service to play with Lego’s for 20 minutes).

    The difference I see between this and an “age of accountability” is this: an “age of accountability” suggests that kids cannot sin (or their sins do not count against them) until they reach a certain age. As such, they do not need to hear the Word of God, be baptized, etc., until they reach that age. “Children’s church” (if done properly; see above), is not an expression of the idea that children do not need to hear the Word of God. Instead, the underlying “philosophy” is that a child does not learn in the same was as an adult. Adults learn from the sermon; children can learn a little from the sermon, but they learn best when they can experience for themselves.

  18. @Janet #23

    The “recommend” button at the top of each post is the same as a like button — are you talking about a per-comment like button? Seems the overhead would be a tad high for that.

    I’ve just changed it back to a “like” button to make it clear. Lots of news sites implement the button as “recommend” rather than “like”, but if like makes it clearer …

  19. @Norm Fisher #26
    I was thinking of a “like” button for each comment, but if that’s that’s an overhead problem, I can individually mention comments I especially agree with, as I did above. I have never “liked” an entire post. I think I’ll try it with this one and see what kind of responses there are.

    @Concerned Seminarian #25

    If children learn best when they can experience for themselves, are you saying there should be Sunday School AND children’s church?

  20. @Janet #27

    Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t think (and I doubt anyone else would say) that there could be such a thing as “too much Jesus” at church. At the same time, one thing we learn in our Pastor as Educator class is that there is such a thing as “doing too much at once.” If we expect kids to learn too much in a single lesson (Sunday School, children’s church, etc.), they will not retain as much as if we just expect them to learn 1 thing really well.

    I guess that’s what I meant when I said it can be good if it is done well. I think that if children’s church (and a children’s sermon) is used to reinforce the lesson from Sunday School, that would be an example of being intentional about Christian education.

  21. @Concerned Seminarian #28

    Concerned, I hear what you are saying. My present experience is far from that. In ’98 my congregation started a middle contemporary service. The goal was to bring in the parents from the parking lot so they would at least enter the buidling and worship. That objective was met well enough. But the side results is that Sunday school took a hit and the Bible studies were devasted. The trendy service was scheduled during the “education hour.” I would say that might be too much at once.

    So now the problem is something gets lost. Parents may bring their kids to Sunday school (aka daycare), but when they go home, the children never see a worship service. If they do see wroship, some of them may then never get a Sunday school experience to help at their developmental level.

    Two years ago we switched the late traditional to an “ultra”-contemproary service. After the first 10 – 15 minutes, the kids (4 – 4th grade) are excused, but subbing for that once, they get a 5 minute devtional, and then 40 miniutes of games like balloon volleyball. Hardly educational or intentional. And they never return to service.

    And by the way, with the three back to back services, the pastor is never available to teach any Bible study.

    I have a passion for education, children, youth (really not for missions and outreach), and I can see some of your thought direction. It could be good, even a great idea. But I think there are only a few who could pull it off, because I seen some churches try, and practically all of them have been garbage. It was more about fun, games, getting people in… heavy on style, light on substance. So I have become critcial (jaded?) towards the paradigm.

    Thanks for the conversations. They help stimulate my brain.

  22. @Johannes #21

    Hello Johannes!

    When a person makes a comment on Facebook, instead of writing a reply like I am here, if I like the comment, there is a facility to click on, that essentially just says “I like what you said”.

    Economy of words 🙂

    @Norm Fisher #26

    Hiya Norm!

    The like button is for individual responses on a thread – as Janet said, whilst not liking some of the responses, there are some that a person agrees with and it would be nice to show ones appreciation or approval of a certain individual response rather than to the entire thread per se.

    But keep the recommend one as I might think it is a good question raised overall, but if it is not too much trouble, could you add the same sort of recomend button for individual responses?
    🙂

  23. To change the subject a little, at what age should we commune children, then, if we believe they have faith that can discern the body and blood? I am not arguing they can’t, or that they shouldn’t commune (it does seem somewhat that “confirmation age” is like an ‘age of accountability’), but I simply haven’t heard much in the way of how this argument plays out in practice. Unless we commune babies (which has its own interesting history), aren’t we setting up an “age of discernability”? Simply wondering …

  24. @Jen #14
    Yikes!

    I made the mistake of checking the worship vids out…..found a guy impersonating an Evangelical. Fascinating.

    Then I looked up the stats. Equally fascinating.

  25. I was in a congregation which started a service during Sunday School with noble motives: adults get church; children get SS, all in one hour.
    There was a little girl, about 2, who had been taken to church, where the family sat in the front pew. I often saw her there. Her parents decided to go to the middle service; after SS she came trotting up the hall and was totally confused and crying because they told her she wouldn’t be going to church.
    I’m thankful to say that parents and child were back in the service after SS in a few weeks!
    You don’t know what the children are absorbing, even if they are coloring the SS bulletin! How many of you (under 40?) studied with the radio or TV on, and knew what happened in the program, while you got your math done?

    Besides that: parents should be in Adult class while the kids are in SS!

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