Children and The Big Church
Kids. We don’t know what to do with them, they’re a different animal. They cry, wiggle, draw, distract and simply play.
They’re not yet beaten and berated by the world. They’ve not had their creative and curious energy stamped out. It’s more of a process than and event, that said, until the process is complete we don’t know what to do with them at Church.
At Transcend Church we’ve worked to gradually move Children toward the sanctuary and deeper within the body. We do this as a process seeking to find a balance between, their growth, their needs, the reality of Church and their comfort/ability to learn.
Briana and I were Calvary Chapel folks for a time while in the west of the US. In Calvary Chapel their is a heavy emphasis on the study of the Word of God as such during a worship service people do not leave and re-enter the sanctuary. Calvary Chapel’s provide an overflow area that people can be in while still seeing and hearing the service, but without being a distraction to the study mid-service. Further, young children are not brought into the sanctuary.
This is often met with a great deal of displeasure. However, the heart behind the policy is on providing
a) and opportunity for parents to concentrate on the word
b) an environment for children to lean that is conducive for their learning.
Culturally it’s interesting – we would never have children in a college classroom, it seems ridiculous because they’ll get nothing from it, they’ll be a distraction to the entire class, and they’ll distract their parents from learning. Schools, like HACC Harrisburg, provide day care for these reasons. However, you’ll see children quite routinely in Church drawing, talking singing, walking around in service. This is something obviously that is a decision of parents and the parents have a right to the decision. Each of us is responsible before the Lord for raising our children as they should go.
At Transcend our Children’s Ministry Philosophy overall environment is designed to meet children where they are, and bring them gradually into the sanctuary and come along side you in discipling your children in the way they should go. We want our children to begin to foster a love for Jesus, and excitement for His church that builds a foundation for worship of God’s glory over a distain for boredom.
Our classes and teachers introduce children to scripture in engaging ways that encourage them to participate and engage with The Word. Children will learn from scripture directly, in way to speaks to them. Rather than enduring an hour plus in the sanctuary. You’ll have opportunities to talk with them about what they’re learning in class and engage with them, while also yourself concentrating squarely on the study of the word, presented for an adult audience.
At Transcend Church we provide a movement from the back of the church (a place reserved for mothers only) to the toddler – first grade classroom into the school age classroom. By 6th grade our children have moved into the sanctuary. This is the movement and maturation to church goers we hope to foster. Our prayerful approach seeks to allow children to align with their church home. Further, to know themselves as members of their church. When children become 18 if they leave home and go off to college, it is our hope and prayer that they find a church home as they’ve identified with a body for years. However, if they stay home or go to college close to home, it is our desire that they continue to find their home in the body that they’ve found themselves within for years.
Our model leverages teachers in classrooms who care genuinely for the children they teach, who specifically study for their weekly classes, and leverage a great curriculum for delivering the messages to the children. Moreover, introduces children in the 2nd to 6th grade classroom to corporate worship and attendance through announcements before moving to their classrooms; reminding them of their greater involvement in The Church corporately.
In a single church rarely are you going to have an entire body that agrees with an approach to child rearing, much less with children in church. In our own small body we have plenty of disagreement in approach and that is OK. We all stand together in grace and love – as we live together in community we must either know that we’ll not have perfect alignment on issues, or stand ready to divide often when we crack through ignorance into reality realizing we disagree on yet another secondary issue.
Please comment below with your thoughts regarding my own ideas about children in church and/or the Church’s approach to children in ministry.
Grace and peace to you as you seek to plow the world as a family,
Pastor John Weathersby