What—no kids in the worship service? (Part one)
As a child I hated church! I know that hate is a strong word; however, I am sure there are quite a few of you that can identify with that statement.
You remember those times don’t you? You would sort of enjoy the singing; after all, you did get to move around. But then the preacher would start and go on and on about something that really didn’t matter to you. You would play with your handout, look through the hymnal, look at the people around you, and watch your watch. Then finally the dude would shut up and you felt like a prisoner that had been set free!
That may not be your story—but I believe it is the one of most people. That is why when kids turn 18 they drop out of church. I believe it is because many kid’s have had to endure non-relevant and uncreative church services for years and when they are finally allowed to make their own decision as to whether to go or not they opt out…and many never make it back.
So what is the solution? We can’t just ignore these kids. We can’t just hope that we can force enough religion into them that one day it might do them some good. And I don’t think we can honestly expect them to come into worship services that make no attempts to engage them at all and expect them to fall in love with Jesus or His church.
Many churches know this is a problem…and many are developing solutions to combat it. We discovered early on in our ministry that kid’s can be a major distraction in a worship service. (I will tell that story tomorrow.) And please do not misunderstand me, kids are not distracting because they are evil little people—it’s because they are bored to tears.
The solution that we have developed at New Spring is two fold. Number one, we believe in providing kids with a creative and relevant environment where they can learn about Jesus in a way they can comprehend. And folks—we go all out on this one. We invest the money, we hire the staff, and we provide the resources…whatever it takes. We know that parents are basically going to ask their children two questions when they pick them up from our children’s area; “Did you have fun,” and, “What did you learn?” If we can make it so that kids are excited when they leave and they learn something—that is success.
Number two, and this is where it always gets controversial, we do not allow children from 5th grade and under into our worship services. This is extremely appreciated by most of the parents that attend New Spring. I have had so many comments from moms and dads who say, “Thanks—I needed that hour to hear from the Lord.”
I honestly believe one of the most appreciative groups that appreciate this aspect of our vision are the single parents. I believe our church can serve single parents by ministering to their children in a clean, safe, and creative environment and allow them an hour or so to worship and refocus.
However, whenever you have a policy like this it always seems to bring out the critics. We have received some criticism from people from time to time; however, our answer is always the same, we refuse to partner with parents who wish to teach their children that God and church are irrelevant to their lives.
One of the main objections we often receive is parents who say, “Well—we want to worship God together as a family.” My response has always been, “It is my conviction that you have Monday through Saturday to worship God as a family. If you are not being a true worshipper on Monday through Saturday and then you try to come to church and fake it on Sunday then I promise that your child does not view you as a spiritual giant—but rather a hypocrite who is leading by example that it is ok to live one way inside the walls of the church and another way outside the walls.”
If you are a parent who wants to worship God as a family I say that is awesome. Have a weekly Bible study. Pray with your kids at night. Let your children see Jesus in you—for example, when someone pulls out in front of you don’t tell them they are “number one,” but rather use it as a teaching moment to minister to your kids. Moms and dads need to get past this idea that Sunday is the only time we can worship God as a family—worship is a 24/7 thing—period.
That’s enough for now—I will be sharing part two of this tomorrow.