Where Should Children Worship?

Regarding philosophies of children's ministries from different churches, not much will get a good debate going like this question.  Should children be expected to sit with their parents, in a family worship style?  Or, are they best discipled in an environment geared to their age-group?  Or, can there be a mix, where they join their parents for part of the time, and then go to "children's church"?

An article on ChurchLeaders.com, written by the folks at Children's Ministry Magazine, gives feedback from both ends of the spectrum, from over 2000 people who took their poll.
  • With regards to Family Worship, I do agree that parents need to spend time with their children, and lead them in their spiritual lives.  However, if this is not being done intentionally all during the week, the one hour on Sunday (for example) will not have a significant impact.
  • Children's Church (or whatever you may call it) must geared to teaching Biblical truths on an age-appropriate level (especially with a Christ- and Gospel-centered curriculum); meaningful language, music, and expectations in worship services are different for adults and children.  On the other hand, parents must be careful not to expect Children's Church to be their children's primary shaping influence.  As above, effective training of children is a constant process.

I wrote a post earlier this year on the Grace Church Parenting Blog, called Can I Bring My Kids to the Adult Worship Service?  As the title implies, the article was not intended to state that either choice is preferable, but to explain how our church viewed things.  Ultimately, we wanted "to be clear that our adult worship service is intended to equip and teach adults, not entire families."  At Grace Church, we feel that parents have the prerogative to make this choice; however, the big question, in my opinion, is not what choice is made, but why it is being made.  Furthermore, we want to provide an excellent Children's Ministry programming because of who we are reaching; many families who are new to Christianity or getting back into church just may not equipped to be able to have their children in service with them.  (You can read more about why our Children's Ministry exists.)

On a personal level, our children predominately attend their age-appropriate Children's Ministry programming.  We feel that that is a great place for them to learn Biblical truths in a meaningful way, in a ministry that seeks to come alongside what we are teaching them at home.  Additionally, they are learning what it looks like to have community with peers, since they've mostly been with the same group of children every Sunday for the last three years.  On the other hand, we do look for occasions to bring them into the adult worship service, such as on Good Friday, Christmas Eve, baptisms, and when we want Hannah to take communion with us.  As our children get older, we plan to have them in the service with us more and more.

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