Kids in the Weekend Service

Our parenting conference speaker made his case for for families worshiping together a few weeks ago and I've been meaning to add my two cents. Our boys attended adult worship services most of their lives, and it didn't make them hate going to church. I'm not sure it helped them either. I think a lot depends on your kids and on your parenting style or skills.

So I think it's a great idea for many (but not all) families, but only if...

  • Your kids are also attending their weekend small group (i.e., Sunday School) so that they can learn, grow and fellowship at their own level. You can go to the service together and then you (the parents) can serve the other hour while your kids are in their small group.
  • Your kids are not constantly distracting you. If you are the primary spiritual director in your child's life (and you are), it's not a good idea for you to put your spiritual growth on hold until your slightly to very hyperactive child grows up. 
  • Your kids are not distracting the people around you. Sorry, but constant movement and even cute noise is distracting.

I just read an article by a pastor from a church that doesn't ever allow kids in their services. He gives five reasons that I think can be remedied in other ways. But here are his reasons for your consideration:

  1. Children learn at their level - Appropriate topics are given at appropriate ages and presented in appropriate methods for their particular stage of development.
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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. [We try to warn parents when the topic is PG or PG-13, but it's not easy to always remember.]

Five Oaks Survival Manual - Make Your Kids Go to "Church"

That's a message you'll hear at Five Oaks. Make them go to church or youth group or Young Life...something or anything that helps you help them find God or mature as followers of Christ. That's what I mean when I say "make them go to church." And I'm talking about teens here. (I've yet to meet a family that leaves their elementary kids home when they say they don't want to go to church.) 

Yes, there are exceptions to that message. When your teen is struggling in life so much that you no longer make them go to school (or they have to go to an alternative school), that's one of the points when it might not make sense to make them go to church. Or when your spouse doesn't attend and won't support you in this, that can make it almost impossible. Or if you come to Christ when your kids are already in their teen years and have been raised in a completely secular household up to that point, that may be an exception in some cases. There certainly are many comparable situations.

And how much better it is for your kids to want to go to church, right? In most cases, if you love God, love and serve in your church and live out your faith at home,  your kids will want to attend their youth group. Yes, there are many exceptions to this as well.

But if you make your kids go to school because you value education, you make them get a job because you value developing a work ethic, you make them play in sports (or sing in choir or play an instrument) because you value developing a well-rounded life...then how can you not make them participate in a youth group somewhere or attend church as a family?

I've never heard someone say, "I don't want to make my kids go to school when they don't want to because I don't want them to be turned off to education." But I've heard that way too many times regarding church. If you value your kid's relationship with Christ and their eternal life as much as you value those other things, then by all means, make your kid go to church.