Beyond Children’s Church
It involves a change of attitude, which comes from small, intentional steps. That is what I keep telling myself about the attitude of some people in the church toward children. I have been in churches where it’s actually been said: “Let’s get the kids out of here so it is quiet!” Sometimes churches brag about having children’s church for the kids, but it is really for the adults. In my own ministry, I have fought the notion of “keep the cookies in the basement” (which is code for “keep the kids in the basement.”) If you give a kid a cookie, he will ask for a glass of milk, sure, but let’s let them eat among us. I’ve also heard “children should be busy during worship so they are not bored.” That drives me crazy! If we are encountering God in worship, kids will not be bored.
We must go beyond children’s church! I often talk with the kids during the sermon or intentionally share something that will connect with them as well. But, then again, all of that only comes because I take time to be with the kids relationally. More adults need to do this! Talk with kids. Have a snowball fight, go fishing, throw a football around — whatever it takes! Show interest in them and remember their names. It makes what you teach much more meaningful to them.
One of our big shifts has been creating a small group that is for families. This does not mean we have kids there and they do some sort of craft on their own away from the adults, but we have the kids and adults together the entire time. We play games together, eat a snack, pray together, and talk about what God is doing in our lives. Recently, we spent time making notes for the shut-ins in our church and have ministered to them through that. The group teaching is geared for kids, but the adults find the time encouraging for them as well. Their kids are talking about God’s Word with them! Is this not what the Church is supposed to be?
Perhaps one of the most telling events was our baptism service. We used a water tank for cattle and set it all up outside. This tank was a nice looking pool, and the day was hot! Keeping the kids out of the pool was very difficult. We sought to maintain respect for what baptism is and made sure we exalted God in it. But once that was over with, it was time to get wet! The kids went in, some of them in their clothes. This is a part of what makes the Church authentic and inviting for kids. And, if church isn’t authentic and inviting for kids, they will most certainly check out. But if we can get them to understand that the Church is them…NOW, then perhaps they will want to be an active part of it.
So, I wonder — are there specific ways your church has tried to connect with children beyond children’s church?