Generation Cedar

Boy I do get myself into some hot topics, don’t I?

Intending to mainly discuss the basic concept of family members thinking of themselves as a unit instead of individuals, the church ministry discussion seems to have piqued interests.

I realize there are probably some who have never heard of the family-integrated concept. And much like the BC issue, never given it much thought either.

And like everything else, we have to keep unravelling back to the beginning to really arrive at a well-thought-out conclusion.

For me, it was so helpful to research and contemplate the purpose of church, before trying to decide about the methods and approaches being used in so many churches.

When the basic purpose gets changed, it’s easy to see why our methods begin to go awry.

From Scripture, I think it’s easy to conclude the main reason Christians are urged to meet on a day set aside, once a week. For fellowship, which is encouragement, for instruction, and for worship. But I tend to believe the main reason is for worship.

And worship is about what we bring to church to give to God. The emphasis is not on what we receive.

But, people are misled. Why is the mother urged to take her little ones to the nursery? Even sometimes forbidden to keep them in worship? Because they are seen as a distraction. A distraction from what I am going to miss from the service.

It’s interesting to see the hands lifted while singing “It’s all about You, Jesus”…and yet look around and realize that the children have been whisked away so no one gets distracted. It’s really all about me.

“Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Hand in hand with me-centered thinking is not only that I needn’t be distracted, but that the service is geared to fulfill, entertain and please me.

And it starts right in the children’s ministry. Because remember, “It rocks”. And if it rocks when I’m young, it better rock when I’m old. 😉

I know I’m stepping on toes…and I know there are some WONDERFUL, well-meaning children’s ministries and teachers. I’m not trying to be mean and dogmatic. I’m encouraging us to think about it. That’s always my goal.

What is worship? Is it what I come to get, or what I come to bring? And if I am bringing my praise, my adoration, my love for Jesus, isn’t it fitting that I bring my children with me–and they can bring their praise and love for Jesus? Isn’t that the way they learn about this awesome God we serve? By worshipping beside other worshippers?

Why would I deprive them of something so precious? I can teach them about Daniel and the Lions at home. I better be teaching them.

But there is only one day, one small, set apart time where we are ushered into the presence of the Almighty to bask in His glory. He begs the children to come too.

“Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants hast Thou ordained PRAISE.”

17 Responses

  1. Amen!
    We had a similar situation visiting a church to what you previously described. I found it really sad that my children (who were praising the Lord) were so much of a distraction to warrant several visits from an usher and a well meaning lady who offered to take my kids there for me! All the while they had done nothing to attract attention to themselves. It was really disheartening, and it was our only visit to that church.
    Thank you for encouraging us all to think!

    On an aside, we’ve heard many people pray diligently about the right house to buy, then get a vasectomy with out really considering it for prayer (I know because I asked, not just being assumptive) and it seems we have so compartmentalized that we don’t allow God to be God in many of our compartments, it never crosses our minds.

  2. You make some excellent points here, as I have often been frustrated at our church with the way little ones are treated as a distraction, usher admonishments and all. Because we have trained our little one to sit during Bible reading time at home, she does pretty well during worship service because we decline use of the nursery.

    Why do we remain there, you may wonder? Because, simply put, the preaching at our church is more biblical than any other we’ve found in our area- bar none. The truth about sin and righteousness. We even get a message about Hell *gasp* from time to time. Sin, righteousness, the cross, you know, all that outdated, antiquated stuff that many, if not most churches, have discarded. So we deal with the rest because we feel that’s more important.

  3. I’m new to your blog and just wanted to drop a line to say AMEN! You are not stepping on my toes! It’s so refreshing to find others that are like-minded. We’ve been to many churches that tried to force us to put our children into the nursery or children’s programs – what a joke! They can listen to the Pastor’s message along with us – and guess what? It’s makes for a great FAMILY discussion at the meal table!! Keep up the great posts, please.

    Barbara

  4. I've always been concerned about this. Having special needs children is a particular problem, becz they cannot always sit perfectly still & quiet (is that even normal for any child?). Somehow I don't think children, especially autistic ones, would have distracted Jesus. Meanwhile we don't go to any church, so as not to disturb anyone.

  5. Michele, you and your children would be more than welcome at our church. My church actually RUNS a ministry for people with disabilities, so our service is full of people with different issues, a few of whom can, indeed, be loud at times. But everyone is welcome and encouraged to participate, no matter their disability or level of comprehension!

  6. One of the most precious things to me is to see my children raise their hands in praise or stand up and testify. Yes, my oldest who is about to be 8 has stood up publically without any push from us… and said that he loves the Lord. I wouldn’t trade that for the world!
    We don’t go to a church that would be labeled “family integrated” but children are always welcome in all services, the nursery is for moms to take their children themselves for diaper changing, nursing, etc. We do have children’s services but they are optional.
    I loved this post.

  7. You’re so right.
    You know I wonder if another contributing factor to this pressure to segregate children is a subtle shift in church culture I’ve noticed but is another thing that no one really seems to give much thought about. And that is the philosophy that the church is to “bring people in”, “as they are” and use the church as a ground to evangelize. Therefore may be the segregation of children is more to cater to unbelievers who would be distracted…There are 2 problems with this – first is that the Christ-established intent of the Church is for the edifying and equipping of the saints – i.e. building up and training believers! The second is that to encourage unbelievers in, invites their pagan ways, immodest dress, and general lack of conscience to permeate the church and negatively impact it from the inside out.
    I may be off my rocker, but that’s just one observation I thought of as I read your post.

  8. I’m a little disheartened with this post, not because of anything that Kelli said, but because I am one of those that never gave a thought to sending my children to Sunday School. We kept our babies with us in the service (who wants to send their baby to a room full of other babies with colds, etc.?) But when they reached preschool age they began their own “class”. Until today, I never gave it another thought.

    I guess I was proud of them when we’d do Bible study at home and they would recite verses they learned at church in their “class”. I never considered the idea of them worshiping along with us.

    The children do stay with parents during singing, Bible reading, etc. It is only during the sermon they are gone. Hmmmm….

    I will have to ponder this longer….

  9. Our children stay with us in service. Our church doesn’t have a children’s service or nursery. We have Sunday School classes for them but they stay in the main service (only service) with us. The nursery is actually just part of the nursery classroom with a changing table and a rocker for nursing mommas.

    on a different note;

    You’ve been awarded!

    http://laurawilliamsmusings.blogspot.com/2008/07/bloggy-awards-x2.html

  10. Rachel,

    Our church also has Sunday School classes too. However I don’t think anyone there has even ever thought of not having it. At least in this generation. Our church is over 100 years old! I am curious about the history of this issue in our church though.

    I have only recently read/heard about the Family Integrated church myself… but the more I have read about it the more I really like the idea.
    Since it is such a new concept to me (but really an old concept!), I admit it is hard to just drop my own 32 years of tradition. Yet I think it is something that we all should think and pray through. If you love your church (just like we love ours), and you don’t want to leave it you can still work towards a more family integrated example. Believe it or not, people are watching.
    For example, we personally don’t allow our kids to sit with anyone but family (meaning they are only allowed to sit with us or their grandparents). Comments have been made.
    But I’d like to continue to be open to what the Lord would have for our family.
    I am considering giving my pastor (very old fashioned holiness preacher) a book or article to bring up the topic and see what he thinks. Our church has only started children’s church within the past 10 years and it was with fear and trembling of some of our members (that shows you how old fashioned we are), but I don’t think my pastor would be averted to my discussing this with him. Perhaps anyone reading and interested should simply start by praying for the Lord’s direction.

  11. What about the parents who don’t teach their children to behave and sit quietly? Have you been out to the grocery store lately, or anywhere publicly? I see so many wild children I cannot imagine what would happen if they all showed up at church one day. What does your church do in that situation?

  12. Anonymous, that’s like asking, “Can God make a rock so big that even he can’t lift it?” It’s not a real question, it’s argumentative, and it has nothing to do with what we’re discussing here.

  13. Rachel,

    I LOVE to hear people say they’ve never thought of something before…I love to be challenged myself. I love to hear people CARE to be challenged to think. Instead of just brushing it off because they haven’t.

  14. It’s all connected…boy this topic could take us in a hundred different directions. Reminds me of what led us to homeschool…there were a few things down the road we knew we wanted for our children, but when we started tracing back (everything’s connected!) we ended up redesigning our whole thought process about raising children!

    In our church, the children sit quietly. On the rare occasion there is disruption, a parent takes him/her out and handles it according to age. Young children can be trained in a relatively short time to sit still through church.

    It’s a matter of making it a priority and expecting it. But you’re right…parents have to change a lot of their thinking/practices before just deciding to try to make their unruly children sit still in church!

    It starts in the home.

    And this goes back to why family discipleship is so important. It’s discipling whole lifestyles, starting with salvation, and working outward in allowing Christ to permeate every facet of our living.

  15. Psalms 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”

    This is the problem I have with all the entertaining of the children that we think we have to do now in churches. When do they learn the above concept? When do they learn that sometimes God asks us to do something hard or not enjoyable?

  16. A friend of mine linked this post and I thought I’d leave you a little comment.

    I totally agree with everything you mentioned! And perhaps you’ll find it encouraging. My family recently moved and we’ve been attending a church that rejoices in, with, and for every little one in their church family. One family we’ve gotten to know has a little girl with downs syndrome but she sits in the whole service with them. At one point the congregation raises their arms in praise and it is the most precious thing to see her raise her little hands along with her family and everyone else.

    Thanks for sticking your neck out where not many dare to. It’s always encouraging for aspiring Godly teens. 🙂

    Sincerely, Melanie H.

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