Thursday, August 17, 2006

No Children Allowed - Is this true of the church?

Over at the Albert Mohler blog is an article entitled: No Children Allowed -- No Kidding.

While this is simply a picture of our individualistic, me first, times the bigger issue is how this attitude seems to have infiltrated the church. How often is it frowned upon if a child should disturb our worship time as a congregation, I am sure that Jesus was never interrupted by a crying child. We so segregate the population of our churches, and not just the children but youth and many other groups, that in the end we are no different than the world.

I have written before, Article 1 and Article 2, on how the “Family Friendly” Church is often anything but friendly to the family. I understand the cultural difficulties in trying to worship as entire families and even to do this in such extra activities as Sunday School (or whatever name is used for Sunday bible study). But, the fact that it is difficult does not mean it is to be avoided. We are to be different from the world and if we effectually, whether actively or passively, prohibit children or any other group from corporate worship and study we are no different than the world. Then again so much of church growth strategy is to provide what the world demands so what more can we expect.

May prayer is that the church would seek to be truly family friendly and not just claim to be so.


Scott Hill said...

Tony the California culture in this area to me is rather strange. Though not the majority, a lot of new comers to our church want there children in "children's church" during our corporate worship times, but get aggravated if we have a bible study for couples instead of the entire family. I have yet to understand the reasoning, but we have always stressed coroporate worship as just that, corporate. We like having the entire family in our services.

When I first moved here in 2000 I tried to visit a local Calvary Chapel with my 6 year old son. They would not allow him in the service, but would love to show him to a service geared for him. I just left and went home. I really don't understand that kind of thinking.

Tony said...

I agree that the culture is an issue and it may simply show that people do not know what they want and in a society that values individual rights this may cause a conflict in them. Hence, they want not to be bothered by children during worship but they also want a certain type of bible study that they desire, whatever that might be.

I had heard about Calvary Chapels not having children in the service but a friend who visited Saddleback had the same experience. It just seems amazing that the one day most people come to worship they feel that children just get in the way. Thus church often becomes a babysitting time so parents can have their “me time with God.” I am not sure what the answer is except to do what God calls us to do and then move from there.

Alexander G said...

I believe the whole thought behind kids church etc at Calvary Chapels is to minimize distraction for others. I'm not saying that I agree as I'm not sure where I stand on the matter. However I can see how a screaming kid, or ones who are causing commotion can detract from ones focus on the message that is being preached. We've also gone to churches where they encourage kids in the service. I don't believe that there's a right or wrong, this is one of those things that are truly non-essential. Thank God churches aren't cookie cutter. I know plenty of well functioning families (biblically speaking) who go to churches that would rather have the kids in kids church.

Tony said...

Thanks for commenting Alexander.

While having children in the service or not is a non-essential I do think it is an important matter to think about. I agree that it can be a distraction for some if children make noise in a service but I am not sure that is reason to remove them. My easily distracted mind, and it often is, should not deter others from worshiping with me if that is what God desires.

My concern is that the mode of segregating, not only children, has and is weakening the church as we are missing the strengthening aspect of the entire community. I do not deny that the removal of children in a large part is done out of good intentions but good intentions do not make the actions correct. Worshipping as a community of all generations appears from scripture to be how God has designed to be worshipped.

I am not calling for a certain model of worship but I do think that we need to go to scripture and then ask if what we are doing in our worship services is pleasing to God, from God’s perspective. The question to ask is not whether the service is pleasing to the worshipers as God is to be the central focus of worship. I readily agree that there could be churches that invite all ages to worship together and due to other issues are worshipping God in a no more pleasing manner than those that do not have children so they to need to re-evaluate what they are doing.

My desire to see children and for that matter all generations worshipping together is that it is what scripture seems to portray. I try and not let culture dictate what I do for worship, and I may fail here at times, and seek to see how God desires to be worshipped as that is of most importance.

So again I guess my call for multigenerational worship does not stem from a desire to make a certain type of worship the way to worship but is a call for worship to be by the BOOK and not by the world’s desires. If the world or I mold worship to our desires we will fail, we need to mold worship to God’s and I think including children is important to God.