the weblog of Alan Knox

Question about children in the church gathering

Posted by on Mar 15, 2011 in gathering | 14 comments

Question about children in the church gathering

Not long after I published my post “Children as Part of the Church Gathering,” I started getting pings (notifications) that people were linking to the post. (Thank you very much, by the way!) I got notifications from Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, and several other services.

Within 30 hours, that post has become the most read post that I’ve written this year. It may reach my top 10 most read posts of all time soon, if people keep reading it. (This is a little strange – and encouraging – because most of my top read posts are about leadership and salaries.)

But, I’m wondering… why are people interested in that post? I have a few ideas, but I’d love to hear from you. If you are a regular reader or if you are a first-time visitor who followed someone’s link to that post about children, would you please share with me why you think people (yourself and/or others) are interested in the topic of including children in the church gathering?


14 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 3-15-2011

    I am interested in the topic because Stephanie and I have young kids and we want to do the best we can in how we disciple them. A big part of that is what role they play when we gather with other Christians. As parents, at least for Stephanie and I, your kids are pretty much on the front of your mind in everything you are doing. Your ideas encourage the family unit to work as a whole and I think a lot of people want that, and want to be part of stuff that promotes that. That is why I am interested in this topic. I can’t say for sure whether that is the reason other people are interested.

  2. 3-15-2011

    because a) there’s a baby boom going on and LOTS of babies and young children… at least in our county/town/area!!!

    and

    b) as technology grows & busy-ness of life gets worsse… especially for children with school with and other activities… there’s more and more separation and distance in our families….daddy and mommy work longer hours.. kids stay at school and activities more time… even weekends…. most of my friends of acquiantances feel that distance happening and aren’t happy with it…. we all know that families are supposed to be close, intimate….. so many feel so disconnected and pulled in so many directions…..I think the social media/pretend community has a lot to do with all this too… so many of us are craving REAL connection… and to get back to “the way things there”… I know Sundays are sometimes the only day we have devoted totally to family with nothing else… and my kids are only 1 and 4!!! We don’t want Sunday to be another time where we shove the kids to one place, we rush to another and we aren’t connected with each other’s journey and what we’re learning. of course I’m just speaking about those who ‘go to church’ still… on Sundays.

    now i gotta finally get to that post on kids!

  3. 3-15-2011

    the norm is to have programs that split the family into age specific groupings. A step up from that is to bring the family back together in the pew and parenting in the pew is a heavy topic in traditional churches. Here you are discussing the role of our children in a participatory gathering. The gathering itself sparks much curiosity as to how it looks as we gather. Compound that with the reality of having a family os families with small children present and you get more of a feel of how a simple gathering looks with it’s shirt tail out. For me, when I began researching participitory gatherings I didn’t find many practical descriptions of active gatherings. There is a lot of talk about what we think it should look like and not a lot about what it does look like. Probably because nothing is set in stone and we are all figuring it out as the Spirit leads. Present day descriptions of simple gatherings with real-life practical answers to the questions of what it looks like and how it works are lacking. Your post gave an answer to a parents most important question: what about our kids?

  4. 3-15-2011

    Alan,

    Don’t get me started. Maybe I’ll have to discuss this privately. But it is an issue because most conservative churches stress family, yet it doesn’t seem to be allowed to exist “in church.” Oddly strange. Or maybe strangely odd.

  5. 3-15-2011

    Hi,

    Honestly, as a parent that is one of the biggest questions for our family as we think about migrating into simpler church.

    It is truly one of the largest logistical issues for people in our stage of life. When I researched it last year I found just one meaningful article on the entire subject.

    The questions I ask are:

    – What do you do with them… (they can be distracting occasionally…)
    – How are they discipled
    – How can a simpler model of church benefit them
    – Will they be incorporated into the community or become wall flowers, (or noisy wall flowers)
    – and then in our case, how do you meaningfully involve kids with intellectual, developmental and behavioural differences.

    I sure wish someone would write a book about it!

    Thanks for bringing i

  6. 3-15-2011

    Alan,

    I am surprised that it has generated so much interest. I think that is a good thing. Maybe believers are starting to question the status quo. We started meeting with children in the meetings over nine years ago, but that was birthed out of a bunch of homeschoolers. So it was not much of a stretch for us.

    I am interested in this because I believe as a parent we are responsible for training our children. So especially at an early age, I am not interested in turning my children over to strangers to teach my children, whether it be Sunday School or public school.

    I believe it is important that the church meet as a family, for the benefits far outweigh any negatives. However, I am grateful for those churches that reach out to the unchurched families and minister to kids through Sunday schools, etc. But we still need to instill family values to these kids by letting these kids see that real healthy families exist.

  7. 3-15-2011

    Thank you all for the comments. This has been very helpful.

    -Alan

  8. 3-15-2011

    Hi Alan,

    I’m still involved in a traditional Sunday service. My children spend the whole time away from the adult service. We ‘go to church’ together, but we aren’t together ‘at church’.

    I had to share that post on facebook because that fits with my vision for family gatherings. I don’t have enough experience in this yet, so I shouldn’t really blog about it. For me it’s largely theoretical. But as I dream of more regular, smaller less structured gatherings of believers, what you said here fits. My vision is that my physical family can be together when we gather with our spiritual family.

    So thanks for sharing your experience.

    God bless!

  9. 3-15-2011

    Very interesting that the topic is stirring so much interest. Encourages me as I believe people are looking for more than the way the majority of gatherings are currently functioning with children completely separated from the adults.

  10. 3-16-2011

    Alan,

    I know of one “traditional” church where all the families are in the meeting. Yes, kids are making noises, but it really doesn’t make it impossible to hear or participate. And the higher number of children means that if yours make noises, the less they will be noticed by everybody else. It becomes a kind of background noise that’s easily tuned out. Try being the only one in a building of several hundred with small children. Yikes!

  11. 3-16-2011

    I think part of the reason this topic has drawn so much interest is that “typical” church is so unnatural in its approach to children (well, and adults for that matter). I think people know that inside, but didn’t know how to meet differently in ways that integrate children in the life of being church together.

    We all know what it is like to visit friends with kids, to visit family with kids, to go to parks and picnics with kids. Why we think we need to do anything differently than what is natural seems silly (for either children or parents).

    I guess this means I’m not in the liturgical side (though I grew up Roman Catholic when Latin, quiet shuffling from kneeling to sitting to standing and whispers were de rigueur).

  12. 3-16-2011

    I don’t think you all know just how encouraging these comments are for me… and probably for many others as well.

    Thank you!

    -Alan

  13. 4-8-2011

    I wanted to share this here as I again saw first-hand the blessing of children given the opportunity to be an active part of the Body. Below is my response to someone asking me what I was referencing when I posted “Last night I was reminded once more of why gatherings of the Body of Christ should include children. My life was changed by being a part of what God did through a 10-year old girl and 7-year old boy. How sad that in most cases children are just segregated out and taught infantile Bible stories on felt boards and never given the opportunity to mature until they’re older. What an incredible time.”

    “Well it was one of those “you kinda had to be there” nights but in summary, a young girl and her younger brother were there. She began to just boldly share, without ANY prompting about obedience and how she believes the words in Scripture (10 years old!). She began to cry, speaking of how a year ago she heard Jesus speak to her. She talked about it in great detail, weeping the whole time. Someone asked her “What would you like Jesus to do for you tonight?” Her response floored everyone in the room: “He’s already done it all” she softly said. An 18-year old “regular” prayed over her that she be filled with the Spirit and as he was, her younger brother began to cry across the room. He’d later explain that he “felt something inside” throughout all of this. Something he didn’t quite understand. Basically, for 2 hours we just sat and basked in God’s awesome presence ushered in and shared via two little ones. It was one of the most awesome nights I’ve ever experienced in a gathering. The faith, eyes to see and words of that little girl could blow any teaching, study or program out of the water. I just think we need to give them opportunities to be the active part of the Body that they already are NOW. Was so awesome. Although I don’t think she really knows or understands it quite yet, I could have watched the glory of the Lord radiate out of her all night long.”

    How precious to see God use these to speak to us all.

  14. 4-8-2011

    Joel,

    Thanks for sharing that story! A 13 year old is helping me teach this week. I’m looking forward to learning from him.

    -Alan