Sep 22, 2015

6 Reasons Why Children Should NOT Be in the Adult Worship Service

Should children be in the adult worship service?  There are strong opinions on both sides of this debate.  Personally, I believe children should NOT be in the adult worship service.  Here's six reasons why.

Children need age-appropriate worship.  In other scenarios, we wouldn't put children in an environment that's not age-appropriate.  Think about it.  There's a reason why children are not in college classrooms.  It's not what they need or are ready for at that stage in life.

Children have unique spiritual needs that can't be met in an adult worship service.  That's why it's vital to create environments where they can worship, learn and interact on their age level.

The Word of God is equally inspired, but it's not equally applicable.  A 7-year-old doesn't need to know how the Beast of Revelation applies to his or her life.  A 5-year-old doesn't need to learn from the life of David that you shouldn't commit adultery.  Instead, they need strategic, child-focused teaching that will give them a solid, Biblical foundation to build their lives upon.

If you want to reach and disciple children, you've got to meet them where they are, not where adults are.

Children distract those around them.
  Let's be honest.  Children in the adult service distract their parents and those around them.  Parents end up spending more time trying to keep their children from distributing the service than they do focusing on what is being taught.  It's heartbreaking to watch a guest who doesn't know Jesus get distracted from hearing the Gospel because he is watching the preschooler in front of him act out because the little guy is bored out of his mind.  It saddens me to see a new believer miss vital teaching because she is preoccupied with smiling at the cute baby in front of her.

It's not the children's fault or due to bad parenting.  This goes back to my first point.  Children are wired to be children...not adults.  Children are wired to have very short attention spans.  Don't place them in an adult setting and expect them to not be children.  They will get distracted and distract those around them.

It allows children's memories of church to be positive.  I have met many adults who are not in church that say, "I'm not going to church because I was made to go as a child."  Think this through with me.  You don't have to make someone go where they enjoy being.  I've never met anyone who says, "I'm not going to Disney World because I was made to go as a child."

One of the most outspoken agnostics in the country is Bill Maher.  In his movie Religulous, he talks about his experience in church as a child.

When we quit the church, I was 13 and I was thrilled.  But not for any ideological reason.  I was just thrilled because I hated church.  It scared me.  It was boring.  I had to get up on Sunday.  When I think back, it wasn't relevant to my life.  Superman was relevant to my life.  Baseball was relevant to my life.  - Bill Maher (comedian, host of HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, outspoken agnostic)
A child's memories of church should be of a happy, fun, engaging, energetic place where they were allowed to be kids.  A place where the lessons related to their life.  A place where they could move instead of being told to "sit still and be quiet."  A place where they were encouraged to talk instead of being "shhhhhhddd."  A place where the time flew by rather than seeming like an eternity of listening to Charlie Brown's teacher.  A place where the Word of God was enjoyed instead of endured.  A place where the music was the same genre as the music they were listening to during the week on their mobile device.  A place where they could play fun games that reinforced the lesson instead of having to invent their own game in the pew.

A child's early experiences in church shape much of their thinking about God.  Placing them in the adult service is not conducive to making those memories positive.

The Pastor can focus on teaching adults.  First of all, as a pastor, it's much harder to effectively communicate when a child is crying, causing a scene or distracting those around them.  Secondly, the quality of a pastor's teaching goes up when he can focus solely on adults and doesn't have the weight of trying to prepare a "children's sermon" or adapt parts of the sermon to include children.  Thirdly, it causes the pastor to be hesitant about addressing mature subject matter, issues and sins due to children being present.

Faith is first and foremost modeled at home.  One of the biggest arguments you will hear for children being in the adult service is they need to see worship modeled by their parents.  I would push back on this by saying faith is modeled first and foremost not at church, but at home during the week.  The spiritual influence parents have during the week far outweighs the one hour of influence they might have with their bored, restless child squirming in the church pew beside them.

It's more effective to bring parents into their child's experiences at church.  If you really want to impact children and their parents, then involve parents in their child's experiences at church.  Here's some ways to do this.
  • If you have a children's faith commitment or baptism class, require parents to attend with their child.  I promise you it will be a game changer for the families in your church.  
  • Provide other classes and Bible studies that parents attend with their child that are primarily geared for children, but will engage parents as well. 
  • Provide parents with tools they can use to disciple their children at home.  This includes recaps of what the children learned and discussion questions.  Another great way to do this to align the children's teaching series with the adult teaching series when it's appropriate.
  • Provide family experiences several times a year outside of your normal adult worship service times.   These are worship experiences for families with the programming geared for children but with elements mixed in that will engage parents as well.  Think of it like a family attending a family movie together.  Friday nights are a great time to host these since it's a night when many families are looking for things to do together.  Another option is to host these between weekend services or after a weekend service.  Here are a few examples of family experiences we've done. 
Northpoint Community Church was a pioneer in this and still hosts a monthly KidStuf Family Experience that is used to effectively disciple hundreds of children and parents together.  I believe more is accomplished in that one experience than in a year of children sitting with their parents in the adult service of the average church.

Concluding thoughts...
As I interact with churches across the country, here's what I have found.  Churches that are growing and reaching children and families have a high quality worship experience for children outside of the adult service.  The vast majority of churches that don't are stagnant or declining.

A great example is one of the fastest growing churches in the reaching over 30,000 people a weekend.  They do not allow children in the adult service.  But they have an amazing children's ministry service that reaches, engages and disciples children.  The result...children are coming to Christ, dragging their parents to church and entire families are being reached.

Do you agree or disagree that children should not be in adult worship services?  Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.


I feel like we have missed the reason for having a "worship" service. Are we trying to make children "better children"? If so, we have most definitely missed it by separating them from their parents in a so-called "adult" worship service. Yes, children are wired to be children, but aren't we supposed to be raising (training) them to be adults to love the Lord and worship Him? Most all churches have either Sunday school, small groups, as well as other children's programs during the week. This is one hour during the week where parents and other adults can exhibit what it means to be a worshiper of the One true God. If parents are not willing to impress on their children the blessing and joy of worship, then there's a problem elsewhere. This article has good ideas for family togetherness outside of the worship service, but I am in total disagreement that we should not have our children in worship with family and elders of the church. Children can learn respect (for others and God's house), reverence, honor (for God and for others - the elderly or other adults and those in authority), and so much more just by observing adults in worship. I agree that there is a place for children's worship when parents or other guardians are not present, but, as a whole, parents are called to bring their families to worship. If we are always separating parents and children in worship, opportunities are being missed by parents and other adults to create an a sense of awe and wonder in the life of a child. Maybe those churches where children are not having a "good experience" should change the way they do worship. To quote Josh Hunt, "It is a sin to bore people with the gospel." In other words, the gospel is the best news ever, and should be exciting! Not all of the Bible is considered exciting, but its message is. Kids don't always need to be entertained; it's really ok to be bored sometimes...another teaching opportunity for patience and character. American children are entertained to death and don't know how to "be still and know" God or anything else. From what we read in scripture, families worshiped together. They followed Jesus together (feeding of the 5000 plus women and children). Let's follow the biblical model of worship and expect more from young people - starting with children. (By the way, I'm a children's minister, and we do offer children's worship, but we encourage parents to lead their children.)

Using the feeding of the 5000 to create a doctrine of kids being in adult worship is a real stretch. I'd love to hear how your ministry is effectively creating a good experience for kids in the adult worship service. Most of the time when people say this it is in theory only. "Entertaining" children is simply a way of saying engaging them, meeting their needs and presenting something that is relevant to their life. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Love the dialogue.

I find that quite often when there is an issue with two very different opinions the answer usually is somewhere in between. We have a very talented worship team, better than anything I might rustle up for kids church. We have kids stay for the worship portion and are then dismissed for their own, age appropriate lessons. Seems to work pretty well.

I totally agree! A child learns differently then adults and need to be spoken to differently. Foundations are laid in a child's life better when they are in a service specifically designed for them Not to mention the adults are going to get much more from the worship service if they're not having to constantly try to quiet or entertain their child. I want my children to love church...and they do! They hate when we miss. I have an 18 year old and a 14 year old who are now in the adult services and they still love church and I believe that's because a foundation was laid in their lives in the children's area.

BTW....we discourage people from bringing kids in and if they want to bring them in they have to sit in the back.

Sorry, but I would have to disagree. There are a lot of misconceptions in the American church today about the "worship service" and a number of these seem to be underlying your arguments. First, instead of being a show, lesson, or experience geared toward the audience, the corporate worship "event" is to be a regular gathering of the entire local body of Christ to worship Him and celebrate His death and resurrection. We find no basis in Scripture or early church history for segregating segments of the Body and having separate "adult church" and "children's church." There is no kids' table in the Body of Christ. In addition, the cognitive aspect of worship probably accounts for 10% at most of the entire experience -- there are other more powerful and supernatural benefits to children being regularly in the presence of the corporate Body of Christ than the information they would potentially receive through the spoken message. That being said, I do believe kids need to learn Scripture and how to apply it on their level in a separate, more kid-friendly environment, but removing them from the presence of God and His people is overly humanistic, materialistic and not the Biblical way to go. They need both.

I also disagree. I think one reason that young people leave church is because they never were part of it in the first place. Church is not about us and making sure we have fun--that is the wrong attitude. I do believe in teaching children on their level both at home and in a church setting, but I think those classes/groups should be at a separate time from the worship service. Worship is a time to gather as a body, sing praises, share in prayer and testimonies, and hear from the Pastor what God has put on his heart. Is it sometimes over the children's heads? Yes, but I am constantly amazed when the children tell me, "Oh, Pastor talked about that in his sermon a few weeks ago." And it is great for the children to see that adults who love God want to come together and worship and learn together. It sets a good example, and a good pattern for their life.

One more thing...just because a church has high attendance doesn't mean they are truly a healthy church. I can have high attendance by catering to the popular and keeping things light. I am NOT saying that big is bad, just that you can't use it as a true test of whether the church is pleasing God or not. They might be, or they might not be. But where I am from, many churches have family worship, and those churches are still growing. Come check us out!

As a Children's Director and a parent, I love the idea of Children's Ministry on Sunday. We teach the same biblical prinicipals that are taught in "big church", but they are structured in way that children can easily receive and retain the information. The fruit in this is seeing our children become amazing boys and girls in Christ grown into amazing men and women of Christ.

My experience in every children's/youth program is the inequality factor. The kids of church leadership are often the most popular and kids from lower income families are often ignored and ridiculed. Some kids just don't fit the mold and so every time they try to speak up or take initiative in these groups they are made fun of for their thoughts. So they become introverts and choose not to participate. The kids I've seen in Adult Services (what a horrible name) are here because they'd rather be with their parents because they don't like the children's/youth program for one reason or another. Usually, it's a comfort thing. I recall Jesus calling for "adults" to let the little children come to him "for they are the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven." When Christ spoke, he used words and stories that everyone with an open mind could understand. Who has a more open mind than a child? Many sermons these days get way way WAY too preachy and far too technical, using words people don't understand and dealing in concepts in very difficult ways to understand, as though they are preaching to a room full of Doctorate students or professors.

Thanks for everyone who has contributed dialogue so far. Great thoughts.

I disagree. As someone stated above, worship is an event: the very act of worshipping our God together as the body of Christ. To exclude young people from that is to diminish the body of Christ. Yes, children need age-appropriate faith formation. That can and should take place during a Sunday school hour, while parents and other adults are also receiving rich, age-appropriate faith formation in separate classes. To exclude children from worship is teaching them a message that they are less-than. Jesus welcomed children with open arms, and worship services should as well. There are ways to make worship engaging, meaningful and not tortuous for children. For concrete, lived examples I would point you to and to the work of Theresa Cho. This is a must read post: Parents and families with children should never be made to sit in the back! What a way to make them feel unwelcome and unwanted. Children should be up front where they can see and hear what is going on. Parenting in the Pew is also a wonderful book that gives step by step instructions and ideas for how to keep children in worship. There are so many important reasons to keep children in worship with everyone. And yes, it takes more effort from parents, worship leaders, other worshippers and the children themselves. But as was also stated above, worship isn't a passive, entertaining activity to be consumed. It is to be lived and breathed.

My thoughts exactly, Caitlin. Thank you. I agree that a thriving nursery ministry is a gift to parents, and to invite younger children to experience an age-appropriate lesson during the sermon is very appropriate. But to advocate for the pastor to focus on only adults shows an unwillingness to care for the whole body of Christ. Refusing to add intergenerational elements to the worship service so that children can participate feeds into the misconception that children are “lesser than.” What I hear you saying is that church is for adults, children can be hidden away doing “something else” until they are old enough to sit still. Out of sight, out of mind.

This question of sitting still and being shushed begs the question of what do you do with adults with special needs or visitors who are new to the church experience? Are they shushed, too, and invited to a separate room until they can learn to “behave” in church? And what about young adults? What is their incentive to go back to church when they have no intergenerational relational connections there because they’ve been sequestered in the children/youth wing all these years?

Regarding parents modeling faith: I have seen the opposite - churches that offer a full slate of age appropriate programming during worship reinforce the idea is that parents are to outsource the spiritual formation of their children to the professionals. Worshipping as a family gives the church an opportunity to teach parents to model faith to their kids as many parents aren’t confident in their ability to do this. Having children in our midst reminds us that ensuring the next generation has faith is a responsibility carried by all of us, and I’m sad for the churches that miss out on this opportunity to worship with all of God’s people.

Thanks to everyone who has jumped into the dialogue. As I stated at the beginning of this blog post, there are strong opinions on both sides of this and it's been interesting to see some of the push back. That being said, I believe it is vital that we first and foremost remember that God has called us to reach children and families with the Gospel and see them become lifelong followers of Jesus. Much of the push back has been cloaked in spiritual talk and theories that sound good but in reality produce limited fruit. Did you know there is something the 10 largest churches in America all have in common. Guess what it is? They all have children's worship services...and they are reaching kids and families. It seems fake to me to talk about reaching the next generation but in many cases be doing very little about it. I'm talking about more than just reaching the handful of kids that are in your church already because their parents are believers. That's very important...but outside the walls of your church are tons of kids who don't know Jesus. I find it hypocritical to accuse churches who are going all out to reach kids of not "suffering the little children to come to Jesus." If we are not reaching unchurched kids in our community because we're not willing to change what's not working, then we are missing Jesus' passion to seek and save those who are lost.

As a children's and youth work adviser, I think your premise is wrong. Worship isn't about teaching, it's about worshipping, together, as a whole family. So maybe you've just made the strongest case so far for scrapping the sermon completely! If there has to be learning, let's get up and mingle in groups of mixed ages to explore a topic or question the Minister has given us to look at. That way the adults might finally begin to start learning from the children and young people, because they are the ones who have a real, live sense of spirituality and God with us. Sadly, by the time they're 10 or 11, we've managed to educate it out of them, replacing it with what we think they ought to learn and understand...

What makes me really cring is the sentence: They do not allow children in the worship service. This is really missing the point and hurtful towards children and parents who would like to bring their children along. And as it was mentioned already once in the comments: We make children's church, teen church and after that we expect them to sit in the boring adult worship, honestly, I have been very bored more then once in church! Why would they come if before we did forbidd them to attend and now we want them to attend. Thats quite a confused message!

There is the assumption that because kids do not attend the adult service each week that they are being excluded from the church as a whole. Bu that's not the case. Kids at our church serve, go on mission trips, lead worship in the adult service several times a year, attend classes with their parents, and much more. When they reach middle school they start attending the main service with their parents and become fully immersed in that service. Once a month they lead worship in the main service. A few years ago we transitioned all our student ministry services to Wednesday nights so they could be heavily involved in the life of the church on Sunday mornings. Come and you'll see them serving, greeting and on the front row helping lead the way in the main service. So our strategy is when they are 5th grade and under to teach them in an age appropriate environment then when they hit middle school we move them into the main service because at that point they have reached an appropriate age for it.

It's not an either/or situation. Have the children stay in for the first half of the service, during which time songs of praise are sung, and there may be other items in the service, then have the children go to their own classes for age appropriate teaching, quizzes, games etc while the sermon is being given for the adults. Children need to be part of the body of Christ, and if they never mix with the rest of the church, they are missing out. It requires a balancing act to get it right.

Wow. I could not disagree more with any of your points. My kids attend worship with me. One of them is VERY energetic. Families should worship TOGETHER when they can. Current research supports this. I am just cringing and cannot believe Relevant posted this!

Hey Dale, thanks for being willing to bring up such a lightning rod topic. Our church logistically can't have kids in the adult service. And we provide a great worship experience for them. I guess a thought would be; why do we have to wait for Sunday to come along for a family to worship together?

I agree that this is an area where there are some very strong opinions. I personally disagree with your arguments. Yes, I do believe in the value of a nursery and children's ministry up to age 3 or 4 is probably most helpful. But when a child is 5 he is exposed to classes and learns to sit and take in. I find it is often the parents who are bored with church and use this as an excuse for their unruly kids... I happen to be a Children's Pastor as well as a parent of 10 (6 biologically and 4 adopted at ages 4,5,6 and 10). All my kids were in church by the time they could sit my Mom and Dad's sides. We taught them how to take notes and to listen for key points. Today my oldest son is 30 and a Senior Pastor, my second son is involved in a parachurch ministry, my third son is a Senior Pastor at age 25 my oldest daughter is in her final year of study at Moody Bible Institute and my other 6 kids are all still in the home and they love the church and the whole church family.

The Big church time should not be boring or a child killer. You can find today a lot of young people that have left the church because they were never a part of the whole church experience. They were entertained and talked to on their level and now church has become boring to them because they were never taught to be a part of a "church family".

We have examples on both sides of kids that have turned out OK. It is by grace that any of our kids will become followers of Christ. I just believe that they have the best chances of being committed to the body of Christ when we include them in the body of Christ at the earliest age that they can listen.

I can't tell you how many times I have had parents tell me their child can't learn in Big Church because they would not understand the pastor. I explain to them how to help their child interact with the message and to please give it a try. They come back and say they got more out of the message then I did. I can't believe it, it works. Lets be honest do we all get out of the service everything that is said? We are building foundations.

We do have a full running Sunday school that is also God-centered, Christ exalting, with Spirit-filled teacher, Bible saturated, truth-driven, mission minded, gospel centered as well. WE encourage our families to do both Sunday school and Big church.

Thank you.

Wow! I love the diversity and creative thinking we have within the body of Christ. Great post, wonderful comment thread. Thanks for sharing everyone, it's been very insightful.

Children should be giving the privilege to worship adults Christians because it is their right and nothing more. we pastors should not create doctrines that are not in the Bible ok?

Could you tell me what church you are referring to that reaches 30,000 people in a week?

The church I was referring to that is reaching over 30,000 people a weekend is NewSpring Church in Anderson, S.C.

My biggest problem with your argument is that it doesn't have any scriptural references. I've been trying to find scripture to support your position, but instead have been firmly planted in the opposite direction. Deuteronomy, Nehemiah, and Ezra all made clear that the Lord wanted men, women and children to hear the reading of God's word. Deuteronomy (6:7) also has wonderful verse about reaching your children in your daily life. Psalm 78 is full of how its is my responsibility to teach the kids God has entrusted to me. Colossians and Ephesians, books that were to be read aloud during service, a sermon from Paul, addressed kids specifically in the message. Samuel and Jesus both studied with the adults (priests) at a young age and learned things at an adult level. Maybe that's why they both grew in wisdom and favor with God and men? And that's all without mentioning the things that Jesus said about children.

As far as your arguments against that, again, are logical but not scriptural- I learned by sitting in church and listening. Quiet books, mints, writing on the bulletin, boredom, listening when I got too bored- all memories from my childhood. I got a great doctrinal foundation before I even realized it. There are many parts in the bible that we probably wouldn't seem ok for young ears. Should I stop reading the bible to my kids? I listened to those sermons as a child, too, and came out with a biblical view on sex (although the large majority flew right over my head until I was a teen).

You said that faith is modeled at home and that the one hour they'll miss being with their parents is a big deal. So, should I even attend that one hour? Apparently, it's not a big deal. After all, I do plenty of bible study and worship at home, alone and with my kids. We both know that not going to church is forsaking the assembling. There are a lot of benefits from that one hour, both for me and for my children. Modeling my faith in every situation is a big deal to me, including the one hour of worshipping as a congregation.

Anyways, I'd love to see scripture where the kids are segregated from the adults. I'm looking, but I can't find anything. I want to understand because I'm about to leave a church because of this issue, but if you provide me scripture to back yourself up, that'd go a long way for me. I'm not against children's ministry, btw. I just have a kid that it doesn't work for. But, boy, she can tell you what the pastor said that she understood! And she's 5!

Oops! I meant to say, "the one hour they'll miss being with their parents in NOT a big deal." Also, I think the feeding tubes for the 5,000 is relevant because children were being taught with the adults. I've still not found a place in scripture where the parents were taught in one place and the kids were ushered off to the professionals. I believe God made the parents to be the professionals of their own children. I also believe this is the very reason for the creation of the family.

Thanks for sharing Le Artiste, great thoughts and insight. Each parent and church has to follow what God leads them to do in this area. This was written from my perspective having spent my whole life growing up in church and observing what is effective and not effective in most cases. It's not a blanket statement though. I would say your daughter is the exception to the average kids experience who sits through an adult service.

I agree with the post. As a mom to a 13 and 4 year old, they are bored silly sitting in an adult service and my 4 yr old is a constant distraction. Kids thrive in an environment where they are comfortable sharing their gifts and feel less intimidated doing so. As an usher in my church, I find it extremely difficult to serve while also trying to keep my child still and occupied. I have decided to step down as lead usher because no matter where I am, I am a mother first. I mentioned to my Pastor the vitality of having a children's ministry and without it, the church will lose entire families because no one wants to come to church only to babysit their own children. I'm seeing it happen and I hope my family isn't next to leave where we currently fellowship in search of a better established ministry.

My 4 year old does not always eat same meals that my husband and I do. For example, he won't eat pepper steak so, he gets a grilled cheese instead.

But it doesn't mean that times like that he needs to eat at a different table. We still eat together as a family!

He may be learning differently than adults but he sits with us in church during the service. And guess what? He loves it!

He loves to be invited, he loves to feel involved, he loves the togetherness.

Hopefully you get my point.

No joke, just looked this church up and the opening statement on the website is "Life is better together" BUT children are not allowed to worship with their parents. This church is a complete contradiction! How can a child see what worship is? How can a child experience the holy sprit? These things are valuable. Not having a child in church is part of the passive movement in the country and around the world. Parents have taken a passive approach to teaching kids anything at all. If the church doesn't wake up and realize we actually need to spend time teaching our kids, we can say goodbye to the next generation. Segregation has never been good for anybody. We can go separately to bible studies and sunday school but worship is exactly that worshiping our Father in heaven together, sharing in our joy and love for him together. Not having children in church is a complete missing link in producing a God fearing child that will turn into a God fearing adult. Is it exhausting having children sit with you in church sometimes? Yes, but life isn't just about you or me, its about brining others to Christ and that includes our children. Its rewarding that my 6 year old wants to pray at the prayer benches, its rewarding that my 3 year old stands and sings and bows her head to pray. Its rewarding to see them growing and learning because of the Godly example my husband and I set for them at home and in church. I think your article is completely wrong and you should reevaluate and perhaps you would realize this is a selfish passive approach. And Le Artiste your daughter is not the exception, if more parents believed firmly in taking an active role in teaching their children about God they too would realize most kids can learn and want to be in church, mine do and cry if I take them to the nursery.

The church you are talking about is reaching thousands of kids and families who are far from God. God can work in a children's worship service just like he can in an adult worship service. The Holy Spirit is just as present in a children's classroom as he is in the adult worship service. The primary place parents influence their children is not on a church pew but at home during the week.

We do influence our children at home during the week, my daughter attends a christian school, we do bible studies during the week at home. I would encourage you to do some more research about the positive affects of having a child in church with their parents and how that can influence the depth of their faith throughout their life. Like someone already commented, just because that many people go to the church, that does not mean that is how many firm, non lukewarm members are present. I would be curious to know how many of those people spend time with God on a daily basis and how many of them actively talk about the bible with their children. I still believe your opinion is wrong, I believe that church is wrong to make that a policy and I will continue to raise my children how my husband and I believe God wants us to.

Our church encourages both. Many families serve in children's ministry or attend a life group one hour and then attend the congregation service together the other. Blessings, Dave

Completely disagree. Jesus never did it. Moses never did it. I will use things like nursery adn chidlrens church for a time to work with other children or even to bring a time of focus in my life. But as a normal thing - families should be together.

I agree w/ most of this article. Why should the whole congregation be subjected to a misbehaving child? Parents who know their kids are loud and distracting & don't take them out are unbelievably selfish. It's the parents fault, not the kids.
I had my kids in the service when they were newborns, but I would get up and leave as soon as they got fussy. I wouldn't want my children to be the reason someone couldn't focus on the message or why a new visitor wouldn't come back. It's common sense really, unfortunately some parents don't have it or aren't worried about what other people may need. It's putting others needs before your own- Phil 2:3.

Parent's have the responsibility to determine what is or isn't appropriate for their child, so when you injected your opinion about what is not appropriate for a 5 year old you lost credibility with me.
One of the biggest problems in 21st century American Churchianity today is the massive exodus of young people. I would LOVE to find a church where my family could worship God as a family. I think Jesus made it pretty clear how He felt about kids, and how he felt about self-righteous adults who take themselves too seriously. If you go to church with the proper mature Christian servants attitude then I think, (like Jesus), you won't be bothered by kids. I think being annoyed by kids only affects those VIPs who place themselves and their needs ahead of others.
I also wasn't pursueded by the argument that the largest churches in America have a no kids in adult worship policy. In light of Jesus's Words in Matthew 7:13-14 that's actually not surprising. In fact the preacher in the largest "Christian" church in America, (and I use the term "Christian" in it's broadest, most secular, organized sense), doesn't even preach or teach Biblical Christianity; he teaches centuries old occult teaching verbatim, under the guise of a "Christian" church, and simply allows his large undiscerning following to think it's actually "Christianity."

These are exactly the reasons the disciples thought the same thing. Then Jesus said, "Suffer the little children to come to me."

My church start to have the children to come in, in the begining of service. They want the kids to sing some worship songs kids songs. When they come in they were running, talking, pushing each others, and etc. I got very annoying by, but the pastor was saying.. " suffer the little children to come to me" qoute like that. Now, I don't want to go to church, I don't want to go to a place where I could listen to God's word and be able to talk to God instead of feel so frustrate and distrat. I told my husband don't force me to go to church. I even told the pastor and some of the people that wants their children to join us that. I have been going to church for 45 years. we don't let children stay in the service and interrupt others. They told me that because I hate their children, I just don't want their children to worship with them. I'm very confused and losing my faith. I used to go to church every sunday and Wednesday, now a day, I told my husband.. don't ask me to go because when I think about it. It make me sick. you could go and pray for me.

I feel that if the Pastor is going to preach about sexual sins that are so rampant in our time, small children should not be in the service. I know that there are some sexual activity my 4 year old isn't ready to learn about. So children's church is more appropriate for her.

Our church has age appropriate children's (preschool through 3rd grade) church available during the Sunday morning worship service. Only parents decide if children's church is right for their family/children. It is not mandatory. I can see both sides to the debate. As a child, I remember sitting next to my father & mother during church & I would not trade that experience for anything. I also see how age appropriate Sunday morning ministry benefits the average child. From an experienced Pastor's point of view, what is the best strategy for growing a child in Christ... age appropriate segregated Sunday morning ministry or inclusive (all family members) Sunday morning ministry? Perhaps the question should be: Which option brings the most glory to God?

I find it funny that churches consider themselves to be pro family but as soon as a family enters the doors they are segregated into different classes and worship programs. I have found after raising five children that they are learning more than we know from "adult worship" namely FAMILY. When a few of our deacons and pastor wanted a more family integrated church we encouraged our youth to take on tasks in the church and when my oldest son turned fifteen he began attending the men's class, which is exactly where I wanted him, conversing and learning from godly men. Titus 2.

Terrible theology and approach to ministry

I have two different couples in our Church with a newborn and the other couple have two small boys and they both sit in the front pews. Every Sunday the parents take turns taking the kids to the back to calm them down and bring them back and the cycle continues through the service. It is a big distraction not only to my family but others as well. There is a time for children to be in and experience Worship but I dont believe it's at this young of an age. Growing up in Church, I started out in children's Church with the books that had the stories of the Bible in colored books and as I got older graduates to the adult Worship. So I do believe that there is a time for older children to come into adult Worship, just not at such a young age. What if a visitor comes one Sunday or a member and desperately needs to here the message, but are to distracted by children. That may have been the message that could have saved them from damnation.

When we no longer allow children in the church it is no longer a house of God. Life is full of distractions. You best get over it preacher. That is if you want to keep your job. Is it because you think too highly of yourself? You should be fired.

I disagree. The disciples didn’t want children being brought to Jesus until Christ rebuked them. Parents today want to put their kids in day care during the week, and to not be bothered by them on Sundays. Christians are supposed to be a light to the world, and when we segregate our children from parents, we look exactly like the world.
Lastly, there is absolutely no biblical backing to what this author is saying. On the other hand, there are plenty of verses that speak about children and adults alike being included in worship (Old Testament and New).

I never realized how much of a debate this was until I had children. I have a 1yr old and a 3 yr old and I spend most of the sermons in the basement by myself because my children very much struggle to sit through the service. It is very lonely and I have considered leaving my VERY loved church to go to one that provides more programming for children. I see both sides to the debate and I have no idea what to do... stay in the basement for 2 more years or go to another church. The one thing that I feel like I do see... the high school kids I work with who still connect to the church largely have come from churches who have children's church.

Your arguments are unsound, unscriptural, and potentially dangerous opening the door for pedophiles.

I know this is an old post, but I do not think that you (writer) understand the purpose of the church...

Please show me in the Bible where it says children must go to the nursery. Please I am confused.

I feel they should stay in Children's Church. I don't believe in trying to turn your child into an adult before they need to be.I also agree with many of the things you have said.

Some of these comments don’t surprise me in the least. The church doesn’t worship God anymore, it worships the family. No wonder so many leave and never return. You talk about never being part of it?? It’s so family-centric anyone with no family doesn’t belong, and no one cares either. I may be better off in hell if this is what heaven is like!!

Thanks for sharing. Please know that you do belong. If you're attending a church that doesn't welcome you, then find another church that will. God does care about you...immensely. He will never leave you or forsake you. I know that can seem difficult at times. Not all of God's children welcome people as Jesus did. Find a place that will care about you.

Worshipping God in a sunday service is giving all to Him. Hearing the message and being attentive to God's word is giving Him full reverence and honor. This only happens during this day out of the 6 days we spent for work and taking care of our children. If we allow our kids inside the adult service and extend our work from home babysitting them and distracting others who wants also to worship Him and hear God's message is not a healthy church practice. Children should be separated in a kids service while the parents and adults in the main service. Both benefits the church activities and learning. Family devotion at home can be done during weekdays to give time with children in worshiping God as a family. I agree with Pastor Dale.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

I couldn't agree with you more. Thank you for writing this and being willing to publish it. This gives me some great insight and a way to articulate reasons as to the "WHY"
Jamie Doyle

Thanks Jamie, great to hear from you. Trust you're doing well. Blessings.

I totally agree with you. It is a glad thing to see children in the church dancing and praising God with their parents but they aren't allowed to touch the musical instruments and play it as they wish during the worship. It distracts the entire worship team and the congregation. It is not a grave mistake to avoid the children joining worship with their parents. I mean parents are 24/7 with the children and can worship together as they wish. But when it comes to worship service there are things that should be avoided to give reverance to the Holy spirit

Well said! Totally agree!

I grew up abroad and didn’t attend church until I was a teenager, and continue to live abroad in many different countries and enjoyed being in church because of the people and friends that I made there. There are many sermons that I found boring because it was too technical and irrelevant to me. But that’s okay. Other people might find it helpful and inspiring. There are people that I don’t like at church. There were times I skipped church to meet with a visiting friend or run an errand or just needed to chill out at home. Up until my husband and I had a child. He was raised and brought up in a Christian family in US and going to church together as a family is a THING. If you don’t that is another BIG THING. So I ended up bringing my infant to church spending most of the time calming the baby because silence is required in church sermon, or ended up nursing the baby to sleep, or ended up having to bring the baby outside the sermon hall and sat outside the hallway where there is little tv where you “can” listen to the sermon. Ahem. All of which, I think, just to make people feel I’m a holy believer. Also my husband would drive with much anger to church and home every Sunday due to the way people drive in the country we lived in. I stopped going to church because I am not ready to meet Jesus yet or ended up with severe injury in a horrific car accident.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the church I attended in many many ways. As an international church of over 60 congregations, the leaders make it clear that they would rather we didn’t show up on one Sunday morning and spent a quality time with some friends. Relationship, relationship, relationship. They have Friday evening Family movie time, which I still think it’s more suitable for older kids. But that’s okay! One should expect the church to be responsible for your spiritual well being, and the well being of your children at different stages of their age!

In our church we volunteer in Sunday School as well. When parents pick up their kids they will usually see a nice coloring or craft the kids made that looks very relevant to the Bible because of the scripture on it. Believe me when I say this: it’s just coloring. Teachers in Sunday School, especially with the younger age group, are dealing with many other things other than teaching biblical related to your child during that hour. So Sunday School for younger age group is more like a hourly daycare. I’m not saying Sunday School is lame. Sunday School is nice, and the goal is allowed parents to have an interrupted time to worship and listen to sermon. The goal is not so you can say, I go to church with my family, or, we enjoy going to church as a family. Let kids be kids. Oh, speaking of that, love when the author said: that’s why children don’t go to college. Ha!

Then back home in US, where I often hear people commenting: oh, such a nice family, their children were able to sit through the sermon, they dressed for church. The church we currently attend, has only one child. My son. If he spent the unbearable time in worship - my MIL would say “xxx is with us in the service today”. If we just spend all our time in the room dedicated to young children, then the answer would be no, we didn’t go to church as a family.

Churches I attended in other countries, are surprisingly understanding and simpler. Wanna have time together as family? Organize get together outside of Sunday morning. It can be a dinner party at someone’s house. It can be a hiking trip on a beautiful day. Where happy and beautiful memories were made. And again, it’s all about relationship, rather than made it through another hour and a half on Sunday morning.

I son hates Sunday school because my husband forced him to. He came home once and got really scared and thinks everything he did is sinful. I’m sure his grandfather would say, you’re going to grow up someday and you’ll sin!

I don’t like going to church because all the prayers I heard is... asking God to heal their sickness and surgeries and... never once heard someone decided to change their lifestyle or take responsibility of their own health and need some people and friends to be supportive but... it’s all God. If I’m sick and dying, it’s because God has a purpose in this suffering. If I feel better, it’s because God makes me feel better. If the surgery is successful, it’s a miracle. They forgot that real people around them have to bear their burden. Family, doctor, nurses. Going to church is no longer relevant to me. I like being with actual human being. Not supernatural human being.

There is a designated room at the very back of the worship room, it has a volume control so one can listen to the worship and sermon. Since my son is the only child in the church I will stay in there and do some activities or simply play with him. We turned the volume down to the lowest so we don’t have to talk so loud to each other in the room. We giggle sometimes, you know, having fun. Then my husband would come in and turn the volume way up, because he wants us to be aware of when they pray, we should be quiet.

Another parent brought a few kids there one day. Finally have kids to play with. Parent and kids, my son and I were all in the designated room. Volume is turned way up. Kids were playing, not even noisy. Parent said: quiet down, I need to listen to what the pastor is saying.

Boy, I have never been so confused in my life. They really need to decide what that room is designed for. God bless America. But I really don’t share the same value as many Christians have. Making my plans out of church. Quote: I don’t have problems with God, I have problems with His fan club.

For those who keep enforcing the importance of worshipping as a family no matter what ... ahem, there are many of us out there who grew up as unbelievers didn’t attend church until we are teenage or adult and hey, we are not so bad. A friend of mine insisted on bringing her two sons to church since they were little babies. She now said that they both stopped going to church once they gained their independence and both living with their girlfriends. She isn’t proud of them and very disappointed. But they are good kids, nice people. And I know many Christians out there probably think it’s sinful and that but it really isn’t any one’s business but theirs with God.

This is another topic but one reason I don’t like attending church or getting too close with very “spiritual” Christians is because they just can’t keep things between themselves. Everyone’s life is problematic and needs to be prayed for. Some people might call it spiritual, holy, I called in nosy!

Thank you for sharing about your life and experiences. I pray God will bless you and family as you follow Him.

Woops, I meant to say “one SHOULD NOT” expect the church to be responsible for you and your children’s spiritual well-being.

I agree that children elementary, Jr. high, and high school should have their own youth group, children's class separate from the adults. The reason I say this is because it gives kids the chance to make friends, interact, and socialize with kids their own age. Something that's rather difficult for them to accomplish in the adult service.

If they're sitting with their parents they're not building relationships with other kids, they're just sitting with their parents, coloring and being bored out of their minds.

But in Sunday school/ youth group they're with other kids their own age, so they can make friends and build relationships easier. I will admit I only had one friend in my Jr. High youth group, because I was homeschooled and all the other kids went to public schools and were so "cliquey" that they didn't want anything to do with me, but that all changed once I hit the high school youth group. I had a lot of friends in the high school youth group and learned and understood FAR more than I ever did sitting in the adult service.

I really feel that youth groups are important for kids to make friends and build relationships with their own age-groups. If we completely demolish youth groups then we are robbing kids of the chance to make friends and doing so could ALSO drive kids away from church. I know this because my church just recently did away with youth groups by moving the youth groups to Wednesday and trying to have kids in service with their parents on Sunday. At first, this worked. Kids, Jr. High through High School came to service and sat with their youth groups in the sanctuary. But as time went on, the kids quit coming to church all together, instead, going on Wednesday night to be with their own age-groups.

So, basically, the multi-generational service that our pastor tried to pull off at our church failed. I'm not saying that it will be ineffective at all churches but at my church it definitely was.

Good points to be noted.

Thanks Danny. Appreciate it.

When I was in elementary school, I had Sunday school first service and then went to the adult worship service with my parents and I was BORED OUT OF MY MIND! I always brought a book to read until the service was over. And the service always dragged ON and ON! I remember every fifteen minutes I would look up from my book, lean over to my mom and ask, "Is church almost over?" I was bored out of my mind! I never got anything out of it, except an eternity of boredom!

When I finally hit Jr. High, I put my foot down and begged my mom to let me go to the Jr. High youth group instead of the boring service. My parents agreed and I got a lot more out of the Jr. High youth group than I ever did out of the service. I didn't have a lot of friends but I still had fun playing games, singing upbeat, rock worship music, watching funny music videos, and laughing at jokes and funny stories that our youth pastor would tell in the middle of the sermons. We also had games and social time with each other as well, though it was hard for me to be social because the kids had their own little cliques and didn't want me in their little circle of friends, though I tried my hardest.

When I hit the high school youth group it was even better. I had a lot more friends in that group, the music was rock, fun, loud and upbeat just like my Jr, High music was, we watched funny videos we always had social time before and in the middle of service, just like my Jr. High group did, and our pastor would tell funny stories and jokes in the middle of the sermon to make us laugh.

Honestly, I got way more out of the youth groups than the adult service!

Thanks for sharing about your journey. Great to know that you got something out of it. I trust you are still following Jesus now as an adult.

Yes, I am. I still go to church with my family, though, I will admit, I don't like it as much anymore, since I left the youth groups. The reason I don't like it is because I have special-needs and I have a lot of trouble understanding anything above a high school level and our pastor talks on a college level, so it's way over my head, so I get really bored. I pass the time by drawing and doing word searches until service is over. I know it may seem disrespectful but because of my special-needs, if I don't have something to do, draw, word searches, etc I'll fall asleep.

You might think about drawing pictures or design cool word layouts from the message. That would help you with the service flow and would help you get the points of the sermon. I have friends that do this and it works well for them.

I used to LOVE church back when I was in the youth groups! But since I've left the youth groups I haven't been a huge fan for a couple of reasons. As I mentioned a couple paragraphs above, I have special-needs and the adult sermons are too over my head for me to understand.

When I was in the youth groups, if the pastor said something that was over my head I could raise my hand and aske him to explain it and he would tell me to hold that thought and he would take me aside after group and break things down for me so I could understand it better. Something that I can't do in the main service.

But the MAIN reason I hate it, is because of our special-needs Sunday school class! There are a number of things wrong with our class. The MAIN problem with our special-needs Sunday school class is that it's treated literally like school! Yes. You read that right. SCHOOL! We have to sit at desks and waste the WHOLE HOUR filling-out stupid work-sheets! We have to read and fill-in the blanks, read and fill-in the blanks.

After the work-sheets are done, we waste even MORE time with boring, babyish bible-verse memorization. We have to read the verse TOGETHER as a GROUP AGONIZINGLY S-L-O-W!

After the work-sheets and bible-verses are done, if we have time left over, instead of allowing us to just visit and socialize, she bores us to death by reading a boring, slow-paced, non-fiction book about some dead missionary that puts everybody to sleep. The whole class will be yawning the entire time she's reading, which, to most people would be a red flag and make them go, "Oh! I'm losing my students! They're getting bored! What can I do to make them interested?" But nope. Not with our teacher. She doesn't care that she's boring us.

With our special-needs class, everything we do has to be strictly what our teacher likes and what our teacher likes ONLY! And all she likes is kinder garden-level, school-related junk. But anything that WE like is forbidden! At least that's the message that I've always gotten from her.

Games? Not allowed unless it involves pencil and paper, like a stupid word-search. But games that are high energy, exciting, fun and allow everyone to interact with each other and be social are forbidden, because "we don't have room for those games."

When I asked her if we could move to one of our old youth-group rooms, (the youth groups aren't held on Sundays so the rooms are vacant,) so we'd have more room, she replied with, "No, we're not gonna move because there're no desks or tables for us to do our bookwork and we HAVE to do our bookwork."


Honestly, she is so "school-happy" and unwilling to try new things and ditch things that her students know aren't working, that she doesn't realize that she's boring everyone straight out of class! Our class has a HIGH drop-out rate because of this. Honestly, I can't tell you how many new students have come to our class, stayed for one week, see what we do, then drop-out the next week.

The youth groups are always packed with thousands of kids! Our special-needs class? Never had more than eleven students.

I'm one-hundred percent positive that if you treated a normal youth group the way our teacher treats us, the entire youth group would drop out and the group would fail! People know better than to treat a youth group that way so why do people think they can get away with it with special-needs?

My advice to anyone who's considering starting a special-needs ministry, is to treat the group like a normal youth group. Avoid talking down to your students. If you have a mix of low and high-functioning students you should ALWAYS talk to the HIGHEST FUNCTIONING person in your group. The low-functioning people won't understand that you're talking over their heads, but the high-functioning people will know if you're talking down to them and treating them like babies. And it'll be the high-functioning people that'll drop out.

Thanks for sharing. I pray your experience at church will become better.

Thanks for the prayers! I have some more advice about teaching special-needs people that I wasn't able to fit into the above comment because the comment would've cut words out. So here's some more advice to people considering starting a special-needs ministry. Some of it will be what I've mentioned above. So here it goes.

Treat the group like a normal Jr. High or high school youth group. Always talk to the HIGHEST FUNCTIONING person in the group. Talk to the group like you're speaking to a normal youth group and avoid TALKING DOWN to your students.

Allow plenty of social time. Play high-energy, youth group-style games that allow students to move around and interact with each other and avoid any and all games that require sitting at a desk with pencil and paper i.e. word-searches, hang-man, coloring sheets, etc.

Do skits and acting improv. Special-needs people love acting and can participate in skits just as well as normal people can. We're not ALL zombies, there are plenty of us who are what you call high-functioning special-needs and those of us that are aware and capable of doing skits would LOVE to participate in it during class/group time!

Play Contemporary Christian rock music i. e. Everfound/Saint Nomad, Colton Dixon, Fireflight, Skillet, Starfield, Britt Nicole, Toby Mac, Super Chick, Manic Drive, Plus One, Anthem Lights, etc. Special-needs people love contemporary music that we can really sing and move to. We're not interested in old-fashioned hyms and gospel music and especially baby songs, like Jesus Loves Me! If you try that kind of music you will lose people. You can play a contemporary slow song but make sure you counteract that with a contemporary fast, rock song, too! Play both rock and slow worship songs! If you can get a live band to play during worship that would be even better!

Last, be open-minded to new ideas and suggestions from your students. If someone comes up to you and says "Hey, I really feel like the way we're doing things isn't working for us. I feel this would work better. Can we try this for a while and see if it works? Please, be open to new ideas! Your students are the ones that know if something is working for them or not and if they suggest changing a couple things, they're really trying to help you keep the group going and prevent a lot of drop-puts!

I really hope this advice helps you create a fun, special-needs group that will be successful! God bless!

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. May God bless your ministry.

Thanks! I'm not starting a ministry, though I wish I could. One of my friends and I have talked about the two of us teaming up and starting our own ministry separate from the low-functioning kids that would be more like a normal youth group and be run the way we want it to be run, but when I brought the idea up to my mom she shot it down immediately, saying that because we're special-needs, we wouldn't know what we're doing, which could result in chaos and disaster, which would result in the group failing. As much as I hate to admit it she dose have a strong point. She said the ideas were great, but with special-needs people running the group, we wouldn't have the structure that every ministry needs, and the group would fall apart at the seams, which would leave everyone devastated. I have been praying really hard about starting a new special-needs group that would be more like a normal youth group with lots of social time like our old youth groups were, but so far no luck.

Thanks to corona, we've been doing church on line, I've been watching Flatirons Community Church on-line while my parents have been watching the church that we normally go to and I've recently and seriously been considering just staying with Flatirons on line and not even going back to our church once it re-opens. I just feel like with as bad as our special-needs class has become and with the main service always being too over my head to follow, there's nothing there for me anymore. When I was in the High school youth group, it was perfect for me, because the youth pastor talked on my level so I could follow along easier and if he said something that was over my head, I could raise my hand and ask him what he meant and he'd pull me aside after group and break it down for me on my level.

And one of the things I really loved about the youth groups was that they gave me a fun group that was on my level, that really helped counter-act the babyishness and non-social school nonsense that my special-needs class is known for. The youth groups gave me a great balance that helped me be able to tolerate the non-social, babyish, school-loving special-needs class, because I could go straight from the baby class to the fun youth groups where I could socialize with normal kids my age and have sermons that were right on my level.

But since I left the youth groups, that perfect balance and socialization that I had is gone. Now my church is a bad combination of being too over my head, too babyish, too much like school, and non-social. Every time I talk about wanting to stay home and do church at home, my mom always replies with, "The whole point of church is to socialize with other believers." That's all good and well, except that we're NOT ALLOWED to socialize!

Our teacher has to fill every single second of class time with first-grade level busy-work that there's no time to get to know anyone and make friends and just have fun. I already know all the people in my class, but for new people that come in, the message they get is, "This is nothing but school, it's too babyish, and it's not a good place to make friends and have fun." So they always leave after one class.

Treating special-needs Sunday school like school, just assuming that everyone in your class/group is going to all function on a kindergarten level, allowing zero social time, and being unwilling to make changes that your students say need to be changed is the fastest way of getting people to drop out.

But being open-minded, willing to make changes that your students say is necessary, willing to ditch stuff that your students say isn't working, and treating it like a normal youth group and focusing on the students that function on a Jr. High or High school level and gearing the group toward them instead of focusing only on the low-functioning people, your group is more likely to grow! Hope this helps! God Bless!

My friends and I went to a special-needs prom called Night To Shine run by Tim Tebow in 2019. After the dinner and before the dancing and games started, they sat us all down on the floor and a man came up on stage and did a little magic show for us, where he explained about God's love for us, using magic objects. He would wave a wand over a box, say abra cadabra, and pull objects from the box, which he then used to tell us about God's love. It was super interesting and actually HELD EVERYONE'S ATTENTION! And because it held my attention and kept me interested, I still remember that little bible-object lesson two years later! Not only how it was taught, but what it was about!

Now fast-forward to the next Sunday and on, back in my special-needs Sunday school class with its usual kinder garden-level book work and memory verses using nothing but pencil and paper and everything we "learned" is left at the classroom door and forgotten. No one remembers a thing about the lesson the following week, because it's not interesting enough to stick in our brains. Yet our teacher INSISTS on memorization using pencil and paper and quizzes us on what we learned the last Sunday, even though everyone's completely forgotten about it!

Honestly, I find it sadly interesting how people who throw a one-night, once a year special-needs prom know how to properly teach a bible-lesson to special-needs people in a fun way that sticks with us long after the prom is over, as apposed to a special-needs Sunday school teacher who teaches every Sunday and can't teach anything that sticks with us for more than one hour!

We just started going back to church last Sunday after the year-long corona lock down, which I was NOT excited about. At all. Today at church I ran into a couple of my friends who told me Sunday school has started up again, which is surprising considering it's still summer and we usually don't start Sunday school until the fall.

Since my parents won't allow me to drop out of church, I've considered dropping out of Sunday school. I figure, it's never going to change or get better, it's just going to remain as a kindergarten school class from now until forever, so why bother going back? As long as she's teaching the class it's never going to be anything more than school. No social time, no games, no skits, no interesting lessons, no jokes, no music. Just repetative, boring, never-ending school work. Sad.

I agree that "children" would be better off being taught in a child centered environment. But when do "children" become adults? If 70% of "children" leave their faith after going to college, clearly the church is doing something wrong. If we transitioned high school students into the adult worship service so that they would have modeled for them how adults should learn and worship we would have less "children" going to college and leaving their faith. I agree that "adult" services talk about adult things. Perfect for teaching children how to become responsible adults. We can't shield kids from the outside world. We had better do a good job mentoring them on how to be a God fearing adult while they are still with us than expect college to teach them. The colleges are teaching them, and it's not about God.
Just my thoughts,
Matt Parrott

Thanks for sharing Matt. Good points.

One of the things I really hate about my special-needs Sunday school class is not only are we taught at a Kinder garden level, talked-down to and forced to sit and do school, but all we're ever taught are the bare-bones of the stories. So we're taught the same things in the same boring, "heard-it-all-before" way over and over again.

Here's Sampson and Dililah for an example. All we're ever taught about them is, "Sampson had long hair that gave him super-human strength by God, he was told never to cut his hair or he would lose all his strength, he let Dilailah cut his hair, he lost all his strength, the end, repeat.

But one interesting thing I didn't know about Sampson, and I learned this from a youtube video of all things, is that Sampson tied a bunch of lion' tails together and set them on fire! Wow! An interesting NEW FACT that I didn't know from a story I've heard a million times! And the sad part is I learned it from a youturbe video not Sunday school! And we never would've learned that in Sunday school, because "special needs people can only handle the bare bones of stories!" Very sad and a great way for getting drop-outs.

I've been watching Flatirons Community Church on-line since covid, and the pastor there talked this past Sunday about the man who cut himself and was demon-possessed. He talked about how Jesus cast out the demons and they went into a bunch of pigs, who all ran into the river and drowned. I had NEVER heard that story before! It was brand-new to me! Yes, it was a little scary, but because it was new it was SUPER INTERESTING to me and, unlike most bible stories I hear in church, I still remember it two days later! Most bible stories that I hear in Sunday school are all, "We've heard this bare-bones story a million times, there's nothing new and nothing interesting here," forgettable stories.

And it's not just the way we're "told' them that makes them so forgettable, but the way we're taught. We're not told stories, we "learn" bible stories through work-sheets with pencil and paper, which makes them forgettable. For my class learning about bible stories has become nothing but school. There's nothing enjoyable about my Sunday school class at all.

There are also a bunch of stories that we're NEVER told in my special-needs class! For example, this past Sunday when I was watching Flatirons Community Church on you tube, the pastor talked about the man that was cutting himself and was demon possessed and Jesus cast out the demons and they went into a bunch of pigs and ran into a river and drowned. I had NEVER heard that story before! It was brand new to me! And it was interesting because it wasn't one of the old, tired, heard-it-all-before, same old, same old, bare-bones stories that we always get in Sunday school!

We NEVER would hear that story in Sunday school because "It's too dark and scary for special-needs people to handle. Like young children, they can only handle the bare-bones of familiar, light-hearted tales." Blech! By having us study the same, bare-bones stories over and over again, and not giving us any new, interesting information (dark and scary or not,) it becomes very repetitive and boring and is an invitation for drop-outs.

If you're planning on teaching a special-needs group, if you have a mix of low and high-functioning students, don't just gear everything to the low-functioning people and only talk about the "safe," non-scary," bare-bones of the stories. The high-functioning special-needs people WANT to be treated like normal high schoolers, we WANT to hear the dark, scary, nitty gritty stories and details!

Too many church people, (from what I've experienced, anyway,) think that special-needs people, no matter how high-functioning they are, need to be talked-down to and coddled like little first-graders. It's wrong and for those of us that are high-functioning, like me, it's very belittling to us!

If you're thinking about starting a special-needs ministry, it would be a good idea, if you can, to start TWO special-needs ministries. One ministry that's strictly geared toward low-functioning special-needs people that's more like a young children's class, and one ministry that's strictly geared toward high-functioning special-needs people that's treated more like a normal Jr. High/High School youth group!

Another good way of teaching high-functioning special-needs people, is to teach using interactive object lessons. Teach lessons using objects that allow your students to interact with each other while you teach the lesson. There are some great youth group object lesson videos that you could get some great ideas from. A couple of the videos are called, "The Weight Of Sin," and "Wrapped In Sin." Hope this helps! God bless!

This past Sunday my mom talked to one of my friend's mom and told her about what was going on in our special-needs Sunday school class. She told her how we were all talked-down to, treated like kinder gardeners, forced to sit and do school and how, when we played games, the ones who couldn't read and write just sat there and had to watch while everyone else got to play. One of her daughters can't read or write and so she was shocked when she heard how we were being treated. She told my mom that if she'd known that this was going on, she would've stepped in and did something years ago. So she talked to my mom and said she might try to put something together for us that will hopefully counter-act what our current teacher has been doing with us. I'm really hoping and praying that this works out. My mom told her about my provider's special-needs class at Flatirons and all the stuff he dose with his special-needs class and she was shocked and saying that's what we should have been doing, not sitting and doing school. I'm really praying that this works out and things might finally be starting to turn around.

I am Australian, so our church context is a little different but this debate over whether we have children in the service or in Kids Church also exists, particularly since we do not have Sunday Schools for adults and children, the way that you do in the US. From my own childhood experience, I had both experiences but I have to say that my most lasting and fondest memories were from being in church with everyone - not Kids Church. I know others who have the opposite experience. I acknowledge that my parents taught me to be in church - what was expected, how I could participate appropriately. While I disagree with the author of the article about having children in the worship service, I do acknowledge that there is also a time and place for age appropriate activities. I would advocate a system that has time for both: time to learn at an age appropriate level and time to be together as the family of God. I would say to those struggling with children distracting in the service that the kids can be taught and in fact there are things they can teach us adults, but also we need patience with each other. Our society says we value kids but we do not give them the time, training and understanding they need. Please let me recommend Parenting from the Pews by Robbie Castlemaine as a book full of very simple strategies and ideas to help children learn to be a part of the worship community.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. May God continue to bless you and your ministry in the days ahead.

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