the weblog of Alan Knox

Children as Part of the Church Gathering

Posted by on Mar 14, 2011 in gathering | 34 comments

Children as Part of the Church Gathering

A few weeks ago, in my post “Q&A Session,” Randi asked several very good questions. One of the questions involved children, specifically about “incorporating children into the gatherings of the church.” In this post, I’m going to describe some of the ways that we incorporate or include children when the church gathers together.

To begin with, we must understand that (as with adults) there are two types of children: those who are believers and those who are not. We must recognize the difference and know how to encourage each group.

Second, children cannot be treated as second class citizens. No, they are not adults, but they are also not less important than adults. If God has placed children among the church, then he has done so because the church needs them there. They are not distractions.

This leads me to a third point. While children are as important as adults, they are not adults and should not be expected to act like adults. Why would we expect children to sit quietly while the adults interact with one another? (Of course, sometimes, adults can’t sit still either. So, we often stand up, walk around, move from here to there. There’s nothing sacred or reverent about sitting still in one place for an hour or two.)

Finally, while children are as important as adults, they do not have the same experience or ability to process information as adults. We must teach and interact with them on their level as well. (You’ll also find that many adults appreciate and learn from speaking at a “child’s level.”)

Whenever questions are raised about children, it’s usually about how the children can be a distraction to meeting together. The parents or other adults can’t concentrate on what is happening because of the children – noisiness, moving around, etc. This demonstrates that the adults (not the children) do not understand why they are meeting together. They are not there (simply) to concentrate on what is happening or what other people are saying. This is a selfish and self-centered attitude. Instead, we should be focused on others, which includes the children.

Instead of being “distracted” by the children, we should understand that God is giving us opportunities to serve him by caring for and interacting with those children, and perhaps giving the parents a break. Of course, you may not hear what someone else is saying, but that’s not why you’re there, right? You’re there to build up the body of Christ, which includes the children and their parents.

So, what do we do with the children? Well, we include them. They sit with us, talk with us, pray with us, ask questions with us, even offer comments to us. We consider the church a family, so the children are part of that family.

For myself, as I am teaching, I try to ask questions specifically to the younger children. As I begin teaching Colossians, I plan to talk to the children about sending letters, how they like to receive letters, and if they’ve sent letters.

The older children and teenagers taken an even more active part in the our church gatherings. They will usually read Scripture and even take part in the teaching. (Of course, the younger children are also encouraged to take part, and often do.) We specifically try to encourage the teenagers to begin preparing to meet with others believers.

Children (old and young) have prayed for us and asked for prayer; they have taught us, and they have learned. Children have suggested service projects, and they have taken part while we serve others. Some of our children have even started projects to serve other on their own. The younger children often sit in the floor and color or play when we meet. I love it when an adult (who is not the child’s parent) joins the child in the floor.

Recently, while we were gathered together, a young couple with their toddler daughter was meeting with us. The daughter was sitting in a walker. Suddenly, while we were discussing a certain passage of Scripture, she sped across the floor in her walker. We all laughed and rejoiced seeing her having fun and growing and learning to walk. This is just as much as part of church life (and just as important) as anything else.

Let’s include the children as part of the church, encourage them to allow God to work through them, and ask God how he wants us to serve the children while we are meeting.


34 Comments

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  1. 3-14-2011

    This is a very encouraging post! I can’t tell you how many times I have heard arguments against age-integrated gatherings. I think you shed some light on the great value there is in doing this, and not breaking the family up when gathering together.

    I wonder if you could address a couple specific things in regard to this:
    First, what is the benefit of this over separating people by age groups, which many people think allows for things to be taught on a more appropriate level for everyone.
    and Second, what about the kids that don’t sit quitely and color on the floor? What about the kids that color on the walls, or run around screaming or eat the crayons or kick the guy playing the guitar? (Not to say my kids would do ANY of that, but just wondering)

    I think that keeping the family together in gatherings is incredibly valuable, but I agree with you in that it seems to require a complete shift in understanding why we gather. (That is what you were saying, right?)

  2. 3-14-2011

    In one of our weekly gatherings, there is always children present. Ages range from 6 months to sixteen. On several occasions the younger ones, seemingly paying no attention as they color or scribble, will share what they heard or thought about whatever became the topic of the night. Many times, the middle school/high school age present some of the most profound views and thoughts of the night.

    At first, the presence of the younger ones did distract me. It does, without question, change the dynamic of a gathering, but I now don’t see it as detrimental at all. In fact, they often inject such a sweet presence into the events of the night. Perhaps more than anything, I love to see them involved and included – active participants of the Body. I can only imagine how this can positively alter their developing understanding of the Body of Christ!

    As usual, much of the potential issues with the inclusion of children revolves around our willingness to turn loose of our control of gatherings and trust that the LORD alone is at the helm. Of course it seems “easier” to segregate all into ages and activities. I’ve personally seen however, on a regular basis, that the presence of the children benefits everyone, when approached correctly.

    Great topic Alan! I’m glad I stopped by.

  3. 3-14-2011

    Good post Alan. I come from an opposite thinking, and as a parent with young children, I insisted that there should be babysitting provided for them. (at my expense of course.) It was nearly impossible for me to concentrate while worrying that my kids were distracting others, and they certainly were distracting me! I don’t know how differently I would do things now, but I’m certainly less dogmatic about it. :)

    Now that they are older, and want to be part of meetings, there is a new issue. Since they are 11 and 9, I find that some things are not necessarily “appropriate” for them to hear. Say someone needs to talk about the past, or talk about problems. I don’t want my children to cause brothers and sisters to “censor” their sharing. I don’t really know what to do about this. Right now, we are taking them and hoping that we will be able to discuss/explain later.

    This may not be a problem in settings that are not as casual as ours. Any thoughts?

  4. 3-14-2011

    Dan,

    I am not opposed to having Bible studies or game nights that are geared toward children or teenagers. We have hosted both of those at times. However, we do not separate the children from the church. When the church meets together, children, teenagers, and adults are always welcome. (This includes adults meeting with the Bible studies or game nights that are geared for children or teenagers.)

    Since children are with us when we meet together, there have been times when they were louder or moving around more than normal. Families who have not met with us before (and who do not know us as well) are typically horrified… be we aren’t. We expect children to be children. When the parents are beginning to get uncomfortable in the past, I (or others also) have offered to walk around with the children, or to help find the children something to do, so that the parents can relax.

    And, yes, this requires a shift in our understanding of why we gather. When I walk around with a child or color with a child, I am building up the body just as much as when I am speaking, and I am growing and learning just as much as when I am listening to someone else.

    Joel,

    Thank you for stopping by and thank you for the examples!

    You said, “I’ve personally seen however, on a regular basis, that the presence of the children benefits everyone, when approached correctly.” Yes! Exactly!

    Sarah,

    I understand the concerns about people “censoring” for children… either the people who are speaking or the parents of the children. When people talk about sensitive issues, we typically try to talk with our children about it afterward, to help them understand the issue, to help them to remember to pray for our from, and to remind them about the disastrous effects of gossip.

    -Alan

  5. 3-14-2011

    Alan, I have to critique you on the “distraction” issue in general, at least to point out that it’s not a black or white issue.

    First, kids aren’t the only distracting things in the room; not by far. So yes, kids being a bit distracting is certainly understandable. On the other hand, I have both seen and heard of *some* parents bringing children to meetings who steal attention in disruptive ways, and do so almost constantly. I trust you would grant me that outright disruption is more of an issue than distraction. If saints can’t maintain trains of thought, let alone get out complete sentences uninterrupted, then no one is going to do much building up of the body.

    That’s an extreme example, and obviously there’s a vast sliding scale between occasional distraction and persistent disruption. Kids, as adults, should be treated as individuals, and always with love and respect. But I don’t appreciate when the issue is framed (by you or anyone else) as “yes” vs “no”.

    Of course children should be welcome and encouraged to participate in meetings. Absolutely! And Amen 1,000 times. However, I also think parents should discipline their children, but I’ve met plenty who did seem to disagree.

  6. 3-14-2011

    Bill,

    I don’t think I disagree with anything that you wrote. Children (and adults for that matter) can disrupt our plans. I think the question is: how do we handle those disruptions? From what you’ve said before, I don’t think you would suggest asking either disruptive children or disruptive parents to stop meeting… unless of course it an issue that the parents/adults do not want to resolve. My goal would be to help the person (child/parent or adult) being disruptive through discipleship. Also, like I said in my comment to Dan, I (and others) have taken the time during the meeting to help the parent by spending time with the child. Again, if the parent refuses any help or any type of discipleship (including discipleship about parenting issues), then that is a bigger, more long term issue that also must be dealt with.

    -Alan

  7. 3-14-2011

    Great answer, Alan. Thanks very much.

  8. 3-14-2011

    This is a good post, Alan. When we started meeting in our home years ago, THE most often-asked question was, “What do we do with the children?” And we learned very quickly that the answer is, “We don’t DO anything ‘with the children’. They are a part of us, too.” In other words, when someone says, “What do we do with the children?” by “do”, they mean, “Where do we put them, or should we just get a babysitter, or what, to make sure our sacred fellowship time is not distracted or disrupted?”

    Our society as a whole has trouble treating children as human beings (i.e., showing them respect, etc.), and it’s no different in “the church”.

    By the way, I know you’re not a proponent of house churches, but this is actually one of the reasons that I strongly prefer meeting in homes. Because of the more casual nature of the meeting place, people seem much more willing to accept family/children behaving normally ;) When attending a gathering in a more “formal” setup (regardless of how relaxed the body meeting there wants it to be), it automatically triggers those feelings of “Oh, no. We need to be quiet here!”

  9. 3-14-2011

    It does take a paradigm shift to have children in your gathering. But as the church is supposed to be a family it should be a natural event. It gives all sorts of opportunities for the body to grow.

    Some children aren’t disciplined enough and that generally shows up in the gathering. However, not all children are equal and not all parents are equal. It gives us all an opportunity to love one another and accept each other.

    But that doesn’t mean children, or for that matter, adults that disrupt the gathering don’t need to be dealt with.

    Alan I do agree with you that children cannot be expected to act like adults, but I would add that sometimes we lower our expectations and standards by excusing poor parenting and poor behavior of the children. I have seen children four and up sitting quietly and coloring, drawing and listening without disruptions. It can be done.

    Children are a blessing and they add so much to the body.

  10. 3-14-2011

    The institutionalized church approach to children is one of many that demonstrate the habit pattern of completely ignoring what the Bible says about children, their faith characteristics, their inclusion with adults, and God’s view of them. These Biblical instructions and teachings are completely nullified for the sake of men’s traditions. Just this Sunday, a little 6 year old girl quoted 1 John 4:19. The Holy Spirit amplified this simple expression deep into our hearts. I may never forget it. I will forget 99% of what Swindoll or Piper have said, but not this.

  11. 3-14-2011

    Bill,

    Thanks for the questions!

    Steve,

    I agree that meeting in a house can create a less formal and more relaxed atmosphere.

    Jack,

    Look back up at Bill’s questions and my answers. I think you’re asking about the same things. To give a short answer, yes, discipleship (especially as it relates to parenting) is extremely important.

    Tim,

    A few days ago, a young girl walked up to me and told me she wrote me a letter. At the top it said “To: Alan” and “From: ” her name. Under that, she had written out John 3:16. It was a wonderful letter. So, I agree. Some of the most special times occur with children.

    -Alan

  12. 3-15-2011

    Alan,

    Thank you for this post and including children even in your blog. :-) I’m challenged to rethink my own thoughts on this.

    I meet with a church in a home. There are about 40 adults and the children number in the upper 20’s. Most are under the age of 8. Perhaps we are odd in our statistics. We’ve always had babysitters during the meetings to watch the younger children, and encouraged any of the older children to participate in meetings. And of course, some of our most precious memories are when the children have shared or asked for a song to be sung.

    So, based on the age and number of children and the amount of space we have to meet in, we’ve opted for babysitters. We have special events for the kids, and they are always around for day to day body life, and we find that they still absorb Christ through the life of the church. And most of the children ask to participate in the church meetings at around 7 or 8 years old.

    So I’m suggesting, as others have, that it’s not quite “yes” or “no”, and we shouldn’t feel wrong which ever way we choose.

    You do bring up very good points on the subject, and I really appreciate your post.

  13. 3-15-2011

    Mark,

    Thanks for the comment and for sharing how your church works with children. I do not think this is a “yes” or “no” issue (except for the part about valuing children and not treating them as second class citizens but as important and necessary for the growth of the church).

    -Alan

  14. 3-15-2011

    very good.

    “There’s nothing sacred or reverent about sitting still in one place for an hour or two”

    agreed. I can’t believe how trained I am. I think that’s why I loved sociology so much in college.. study of people… just amazing how predictable we can be…. as much as I try to allow God to un-program me from anything but His Word and re-program me with his Spirit…. I can’t believe how much I’m still ‘stuck in ruts’ from my past experiences…. pretty wild.

    I think a couple things really..

    as a mom of an infant…I can relate to wanting a break from the kids to have adult conversation.. but i LOVE when Raymond my 4 year old sits with all the adults… but sicne my baby is just a baby and doesn’t know what’s going on anyway… i so want a break from her. :) I really love those times when people come over after the kids are in bed… so I can actually have look you in the eye, heart to heart conversation. My baby is very loud and I actually DO want to be able to talk and for people to listen to my words and hear my heart.. rather than googooing over my adorable beautiful baby in my arms… it’s so hard for them to look at me and not at her though.. and I want them to love on her…. so is it selfish of me to want to get some of teh attention she gets? hehe.

    I’m actually not distracted by them at all — I have learned to talk or do just about anything with whatever going on…. I just keep on going… but I never feel listened to or that I’m able to encourage others like I desire to because of how adorably distracting my kids are. so others seem to have a hard time with it.. since they aren’t used to talking over googling babbling

    that being said… if I was truly BEING the Church with others in community like I envision… this wouldn’t be an issue.. we’d be around the kids enough throughout the week doing different activities that i wouldn’t feel the need to get ALL of my church interaction out for the week/half a week in one fell swoop and be disappointed when I can’t get or give like I was hoping. so it is harder because we don’t live together like I desire…..

    but I really do envision what you’re speaking of here…. I have a sister in Christ.. my best friend… that truly just lives community with us and I just feel we have such a taste of what it could be like… she helps with me with the kids..she gives balanced attention to me and them.. comes over for weekly dinner or just to hang… we talk about God just about daily…teaching each other..encouraging each other.. sending songs/links to each other.. we see her just about every 2 or 3 days doing something together… just a family… she may not even realize she’s a big part of ‘my church’….

    and there are other relationships that are the same. even if all the relationships aren’t at the same time… together throughout the week they are our church…

    and I am not sure what else I should be doing at this point honestly… I have gotten way off subject…. but I feel stuck all of a sudden. i don’t know if i should keep inviting others to a “sunday gathering” and try to do a ‘run through’ like we’ve tried… just keep on doing what we are doing… but the church relationships we have don’t all interact with each other…. so is there a need to pull them all together….. try to ‘form’ a regular group to pull the relationshisp together?… have elders…. i don’t know…. feeling a bit wandery right now..

    but my point is… I think this all wouldn’t be an issue if we were BEING the churc…

    now I just pray that God will bless us with more relationships. or show me what I’m supposed to be doign next… if anything.. maybe this is still a preparation and wait time….

    I just have a taste of church/community… I want more!!!!!

    I really want to figure out how to BE so that God can bring others into our life that can just wattch us live it out… and they can see that it doesn’t take massive planning, orchestraing, organization, training of kids, whatever to just BE.

    ohhh I desire so much more!!

  15. 3-15-2011

    Hi Alan – prompted to respond after your more recent blog post. thanks for this post, and your blog in general.
    in my journey we have come from a place where it felt just about ok for children to be seen but not OK for them to be heard, to the church we are at now where children are embraced.

    our church (in the UK and described as a mission shaped (missional) church) generally has two services on a sunday, both in the afternoon. The first of the two has provision for children and starts with everyone together, we chat, share, worship, pray and the children (inc. my three) are a vital aspect of this – whether it is dancing at the front, charging around, trying to *help* the worship band. After a while, most of the children go into groups and sometimes before this, they pray for us grown ups!

    so while this is a kind of separating, it seems to work really well for our community as a whole

    it has been refreshing to be given permission by our church family to be present with the chaos (and joy, learning, etc.) that young children bring, even if it means lots of noise during pray etc.

    peace

  16. 3-15-2011

    Creo que en la escuela dominical se les coloca a los niños en un ambiente artificial, prefabricado, académico, proteccionista, alejado de la realidad.
    Hay un artículo de Neil Cole http://www.cmaresources.org/article/kids-and-the-organic-church
    donde habla de cómo sus hijos incluidos en la reunión son testigos de la realidad de ver y escuchar vidas transformadas, es un evangelio real, autentico y vivo en acción, viendo como el Señorobra en las vidas de personas, esto crea caracter en los niños, no solo “teórico”.
    I sit it do not speak Englishman

  17. 3-15-2011

    Randi,

    I admit that in order for children to be part of the church gathering that way that I have described, there must be a vibrant community of people who are willing to give up their own expectations for the meeting in order to love and serve others instead of listening and discussing.

    I’m glad that God has placed a sister in your life to share in that kind of community. Our community started with two or three families growing closer together and bringing other with us. Keep praying and living and seeking and loving and serving… :)

    Tobit,

    Your meeting’s inclusion of children sounds very similar to our own. I can definitely identify with “the chaos (and joy, learning, etc.) that young children bring”!

    Juanjo Gómez Serrano,

    Gracias por leer! También, gracias por el comentario alentador y el enlace al artículo de Cole. Auténtica comunidad es importante para los niños y adultos. Pido disculpas por mi mal español.

    -Alan

  18. 3-16-2011

    alan – u speak spanish?:)

  19. 3-16-2011

    p.s. thanks for the encouragement… and also

    I hear what you are saying for sure about giving up expectations and serving/loving more… so I wonder for those christians who are not as mature yet and sort of “need” that time of teaching/discipleship/hearing the word… where does that take place? through discipleship in their daily walk with their mentor/elder/leader? reading, studying, listening to teachings online by themselves?

    i know this is the system me talking…but it’s a hump i can’t get over in my mind right now.

  20. 3-16-2011

    Randi,

    I don’t speak Spanish very well. I ready and understand a little more.

    I wouldn’t say that times of “teaching/hearing” are more discipling than times of serving/caring especially when seeing others serving/caring. However, yes, at some point there needs to be times of speaking/hearing/crying/laughing/etc.

    -Alan

  21. 3-16-2011

    Great post! For what its worth, my wife wrote about our experiences with children in a home-group gathering.

    http://reasontostand.org/archives/2010/06/15/children-in-house-church

  22. 3-17-2011

    Wes,

    That’s a great post! I love they way that the church(es) worked together to seek a solution.

    -Alan

  23. 5-20-2011

    I haven’t read all of the comments so if this was covered forgive me. I would like to point out a few things. First I would like to point out that the meetings of the church are of various types. Typically the weekly meeting (or more if possible) is a meeting for the Lord. Where we come together to give expression to the Lord and we see as one a bigger fuller Christ. (That is extremely simplified I know). With the group that I meet with we have an average of 40 adults and among these adults we have a minimum of 25 kids amongst us under 8 yrs of age plus some older ones. We as a group have chosen not to include the children in our main gathering save those who want to attend (we have about 3 or 4 8-12 yr olds and a few teenagers who do attend and participate).
    We have been fortunate enough to hire some christian college students (girls) who dedicate their Saturday nights to us (that’s when we meet together, it works best for all of our schedules)They watch the children for 3-4 hours and we pay them $40 a night each.
    This has proven to be a huge blessing for them and the church as a whole. For one the kids get a chance to build relationships with one another. I need to point a few things out that balance this in light of the concerns and points raised in the post. One thing is the church isn’t just comprised of our Saturday meetings. But as a community of believers we meet together frequently and at times we have big get togethers where everyone is there fellowshipping and sharing. The kids are learning the Lord through and by our lives. The main meeting is just an overflow of that. It is amazing to see what the kids pick up and learn of the Lord in a life context instead helping to foster a single mind towards the Lord. We also as a group have special meetings for the kids and they love it. There is more I would like to share on this but can’t now because of time.
    But I would like to mention it is great that there are kids in the meeting of the saints but if there are a lot of small kids this will never give parents a break nor will it foster an environment where all of the saints can express the Lord and focus on Him together.
    I know this will raise some questions and there will be some groups that would be an exception based on how many kids and ages. I would love to expound on anything I have written here.

  24. 5-20-2011

    When I experienced this my daughter was little and so were my friends girls. We let them run around and play in the toy room if they did not want to be a part of what was going on in our meetings. They sometimes came to sing and praise, other times we included them specifically in the prayer.

    I seem to recall at least one meeting where God instructed us to gather the children and pray over them.

    I remember another meeting where the children prayed with us. They prayed bold prayers for their youth.

    Because our families were living out the Bible with our kids during the week we did not worry about our children when we got together. This gave them the freedom to interact as they saw fit. We asked them to respect the fact that a gathering was going on.

    We never had to stop what we were doing to focus on them things just had a nice flow.

    My daughter is now old enough to hold her own in an adult conversation. She would be most welcomed to join in conversations or services she attended with me. I would even love to see her organize and lead her own youth service. She is not there yet but a mom can dream.

    I am now involved with a group that has older kids and many more of them. It has a healthy robust feel and the parents bring the kids in during music times. There is nothing like seeing a child lost in worship.

    A healthy gathering is one where kids are welcomed. Our lives should not be compartmentalized around age groups.

  25. 5-20-2011

    I just noticed that Mark also pointed out some of what I did and oh with such flavor and grace. Also, reading through some of the comments I am struck with what seems to me an approach to the idea of the church and the expression of the church that aren’t fully coinciding. What I mean is yes the church is a family but no the church is not the once a week meeting. So just because a group of believers meet together without the children doesn’t mean they are not expressing the family aspect of the church. I would say the family aspect of the church does and must extend beyond the meeting and there lies the fuller inclusion of the children. Now if a particular group all agrees to include the children in the meeting and that works then that is awesome but this should be a consensus and not based on biblical mandate per se because the argument can be made both ways using the Bible. Does that make sense? Your thoughts and feedback appreciated.

  26. 5-20-2011

    Seth,

    Yes, some groups decide not to meet with their children for a variety of reasons. This post was not intended to say this was the only way to meet (that is, with children present). But it was instead intended to show that it is possible to meet with children present.

    I do have one question. You said, “Typically the weekly meeting (or more if possible) is a meeting for the Lord. Where we come together to give expression to the Lord and we see as one a bigger fuller Christ.” I can’t find different reasons for meeting in Scripture. Where do you find this?

    ToscaSac,

    I think people have been genuinely surprised by 1) how much children can learn even at an early age (and even when they are playing or coloring or something else besides “paying attention” and 2) how much adults can learn from children, even when those adults are “distracted” from what the other adults are saying/doing.

    -Alan

  27. 5-20-2011

    Thanks Alan. Ok I see your point. In a broader sense our whole life is for the Lord including all meetings. What I meant by meeting for the Lord was similar to a date night as the bride with the bridegroom solely focused on Him and giving Him expression. Since the church when meeting without a clergy under the headship of Christ gets to handle everything together as a body there will be other types of meetings. For one the group we meet with chooses to put all of the bigger decisions and more administrative stuff of the church into a planning meeting. This way when we get together its to discuss and decide various matters. This has worked well for our group and we are always open to the fluidity of the meetings so that they don’t become dry, stale and methodical.
    We have also had special meetings as a whole church for the Lord’s supper including a big meal. It just depends. But typically the main meeting we have we consider like a date night with the Lord. We would all like the children to be there if possible I am sure and we do have quite a few who are about 8 an older but practically for us if we had 20 small children running around it wouldn’t work to well for that type of meeting anyways. I hope that clarifies a bit.

  28. 2-18-2012

    I’m revisiting these posts because NOW I’m going through this experience with two different fellowship groups. My children are 2 and 5 and are forces of nature; very energetic and loud. In one group, we are the only ones with children in a small apartment. Another group is one we host in our larger apartment home with other families including another family with kids about same age as ours.
    First, I relish Randis, Saras, and the reason to stand posts. I think parents (especially moms) need to be in discussions. A host saying, ‘It’s ok’ means nothing to my wife if she feels the children are distracting others. So far I feel as though I’m experiencing every child distraction known to humans lol. From screaming kids to tug of wars between children during prayer times.
    Secondly, it’s a challenge to mutually edify when the distractions are going on. We’re beginning to dialogue with other couples on how do we want the kids to gather. It’s slow painful process but I do feel the community (including those without kids) need to dialogue and pray about fellowship.
    Third I’m seeing that integrating kids necessitates a lot of teaching and modeling. First those without kids see, it’s a challenge to discipline kids. Also they see the joys when a child prays or shares divine insight. I agree, that Jesus works through kids too; they just might not have a long attention span as an adult. Also, it makes me as a parent teach my kids about practices, scripture, and life. In one setting, my children pass out communion and take it with adults. I have to teach them about this. After the tug of war with the other 5 year old during prayer time, I began teaching at home about the Lords prayer to my kids.
    It’s an Holy Spirit adventure for my family and community.

  29. 2-25-2012

    Thanks for commenting and adding in there Jonathan! Please please please give me any more insight or things you find out as well as you journey! :)

    I thought I’d update now on what’s going on with us. We added a 3rd baby to our family! so things got even more fun :)

    but geez trying to explain our church life isn’t easy though….

    basically I meet for a ladies group on Friday nights here at my house after all the kids are asleep. We discuss & encourage & laugh & pray & eat bad-for-you desserts. So mommy does get her time distraction free from the kids to be heard and to hear!

    I’m part of a weekly morning bible study where the kids are separate and have their own teaching.

    All throughout my week – I meet with women & kids (some are part of my friday night group, some just friends & neighbors) for playdates with the kids and Jesus is always part of our discussions as we encourage each other in our parenting & journeys.

    Then once a week my husband & I decide on some theme/bible story we are gonna focus on for the week and teach the story to the kids and are intentional about living that out and bringing up examples of it all week…… and of course we disciple/teach them as things come up in our lives and we walk together. Once a week we do have a set time (different time and day each week it seems) and we always do incorporate praising through music, teaching, discussion & prayer in our time as a Church together…..

    So my question is…. that’s what my life looks like……is the only time I’m BEING the Church when we are gathered all 5 of us and there’s an open Bible, music, teaching, prayer….. it doesn’t feel like that’s the only time…. I think because my spiritual life isn’t separate from everything else anymore. I just am.

    Incorporating kids gets easier because I have kids and I live…. so I have learned to live WITH kids. Pretty simple.

    Some days the kids are great and we have great conversations…. some times together we spend the whole time tending to the kids needs and don’t get to talk at all. But there’s not a lot riding on any ONE gathering… becuase I know I’ll see those same people in a day or 2 or a week so we’ll just catch up next time….

    there is a lot missing in our Church life/experience right now…. but I also know it’s so full compared to many other’s experiences!!

    I do desire so much to incorporate other families into our family time…..but almost all of them are “at church” on Sunday mornings…. and since they do that – don’t feel called to “do” church with us again….

    so since “church” as in the traditional sunday scene is holding community captive in many ways…. I have learned to BE the Church with others without letting them know…. am I still being the Church if I don’t tell them they are being it with me? :)

    very interesting.

  30. 3-26-2012

    Thank you for this. We had our young men lead the song service of our worship last night and they did a wonderful job. Of course, our assembly is more formal in structure than what you describe, but I love the joy children bring to our assembly. I fear that the formality of our assembly has been exercised to the exclusion of our children so that they are kept quite by coloring while some even play on Kindle’s or Ipads. I appreciate very much your desire to follow the New Testament in your assembling.

  31. 3-27-2012

    Thank you, again, everyone, for continuing to discuss this. I often wonder what children are learning about God when we ship them off to other locations while the church meets or if we constantly shush them when they are simply being the children that God created them to be.

    -Alan

  32. 7-30-2012

    Thank you for this post. We left our home church primarily because we felt like our children were in danger there, and also because they were not growing in their faith. We had a situation where the children outnumbered the adults (several larger families and single parents). Many were new Christian parents and had just started the process of learning parenting. We didn’t have enough people who were able to take 25-30 kids infant to junior high and hold their attention for more than 15 minutes. We tried to incorporate the children as much as possible and they joined the adults for worship, our prayer and fellowship times, however we found it difficult to hold their attention through our conversation times. They often ran in and out of the room, which we allowed and I did not find too distracting. Younger children stayed in the room, which I found pretty much made it difficult for me to participate for more than 5 – 10 minutes as I needed to pull my kid out of someones purse or off the curtains. The older children in the group were the major problem. I had to repeatedly go and check on them to make sure they weren’t “sexting” or teaching my younger children swear words. After months of trying different options, we came to the conclusion that the church, although God was working so much in it, was becoming bad for our family and we were spending more of our time trying to protect our children than being in community. I don’t want to be the “police” all the time. If a group does not have enough mature believers to interact constructivelly with the children so that they can participate within the group it is a problem. I’ve found this especially when the groups grow rapidly and consist of new believers.

  33. 7-30-2012

    Krista,

    Each group of believers is definitely different. How are you able to include your children in the gathering of the church today?

    -Alan

  34. 10-17-2012

    This is so important! Thank you, Alan.

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