Today in many parts of the church world the expectations we have of children are abysmally low. Is this because American Christianity’s view of children has been shaped more by American culture than by the Bible? I’m not sure. Whatever the reason, the result is that we no longer dress children like adults, we don’t ask them to sit alongside of the adults, and we certainly don’t think they are capable of singing the same hymns as adults…. And so we simply whisk our little prepubescent blobs of sunshine away to something called Children’s Church.
Is this wise?
Is this helpful?
More importantly, is this practice Biblically defensible?
Yes, I know that children are children and they can be restless and even disruptive during church services but is this sufficient reason to amputate children from Christ’s Body?
At All Souls Church we believe it is NOT. We believe children are to be welcomed into the Body of Christ just like adults. Yes, children do need to be instructed at their level, and we have special times set aside for this, but these times do not interfere with the corporate worship of Christ’s Body.
Here are a few reasons for our rationale:
Children are not merely the church of the future… they are the church of the present.
Someone from the peanut gallery objects, “But kids don’t have the understanding to get Big People Church.” This may be so, but since when have intelligence tests ever determined who we let into our services? Should the fact that children have the understanding of children be held against them? By this reasoning we could argue that the senile, the mentally retarded, or even the person who lacks a high school diploma should be excluded… but this would obviously be wrong. If there is any place on earth where the “weak and foolish” should be accepted with open arms, it is the church.
I contend that the church of the future depends upon children being ministered to in the church of the present.
Church must be “normalized” for children.
Unless children grow up in an environment where it is normal to see a man read the bible and where it is normal to listen to a sermon, they are very unlikely to see these things as normal when they become young adults. We’ve all heard teenagers dismiss church services as “weird” and perhaps we’ve wondered why. But wouldn’t you think church was weird too if you had spent the totality of your formative years being whisked away from normal Church to a world of flannel graphs, vacuous songs, and moralistic stories? I would… and for a long while I did, thanks to Children’s Church.
I contend that church must be normalized in the minds of children through their regular attendance of and participation in Lord’s Day Worship Services.
The regular means of grace are not just for big people.
“The reading of the Scriptures... sound preaching… singing of psalms… receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ, are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God.”
Elsewhere we read that these things are done “to put a visible difference between those that belong unto the Church, and the rest of the world.” As far as I can tell this must include both the old and young of a given congregation. The Lord has placed no age limits on the means of grace.
I contend that the regular means of grace are for both big people and little people and are to be received together as one body.
We have no biblical warrant to segregate the Body of Christ.
America has a dark history of racial segregation and thankfully great strides have been made to right the wrongs associated with it. Sadly there were even many churches in the past who were segregated along the “color-line.” But as anyone with a modicum of Biblical knowledge knows, the Bible lends no support to the idea of racially segregated congregations. It’s bitterly ironic therefore, that we Christians are not quite as quick to recognize other forms of segregation. Surely age segregation within the Church has no more biblical warrant than racial segregation and I would contend that it is equally as destructive to the Church because it fragments the body of Christ. Surely, the old and the young are members of one body – Christ’s body.
I contend that God has designed it this way and that we need each other.