How Kid Friendly Is Your Church?
Do kids count in services or should just “occupy” their time at church? Children are amazing creatures and very valuable souls. Sometimes parents, teachers, and even church leadership accept less than children are capable of. This especially applies to the church service setting.
There are many instances in the Bible where children played an important part in the work of God. In Deuteronomy 31:11-13, people were instructed to gather the children to the house of God so that everyone can hear, learn, and observe the laws. David marched his armies into battle with the sounds of children singing and praising God ringing in the soldiers’ ears (Psalms 8:2). No doubt each of those soldiers went into that battle with a burning desire to defeat the enemy to insure the safety of that younger generation. In Mark 10:14, Jesus invited kids to come closer and taught His own disciples that children can be a part what He was doing. Jesus referred to Psalms 8:2 when, after clearing the temple of the money changers and thieves, He heard children singing praises in the temple. Some in the temple wanted the children to stop rejoicing; Jesus didn’t agree. The next verse refers to the healing of many that were lame. Jesus went from anger to healing people in just a few verses; were the praises of kids the difference?
I remember growing up in a church of about 300 people. I remember my parents worshiping God with one hand outstretched and the other hand firmly grasping my hand. And when they started feeling the Spirit, I knew I was in for a wild ride. I remember my mom was praying with only one eye shut, so she could see if I was acting up. I also remember quietly writing or coloring during the sermon and sometimes falling asleep under the pew. I felt so safe, so peaceful, because I knew I was in a special place. I was taught to not run, never throw trash down, and always respect the elders in our church. I learned to bow my head and remain still when there were tongues and interpretations, because that was a message straight form God. I knew that if I did act up at church, there would be swift (and loving) punishment (hint, timeouts weren’t invented yet).
I know that it is unrealistic to expect little Johnny or Suzy to be attentive and quiet during a two or three hour church service, but I think there should be times throughout the service that kids can be engaged in what is happening. I think it is imperative that we make sure our kids are singing praises in “big” church along with mom and dad. Kids should put down their “things” and listen it’s time to pray or even when sermon text is read, and especially at the end of service when God has a chance to talk to hearts. These are minimal expectations and times that should treated as “special.” Kids should be expected to reverence the house of God continually.
Having a great children’s ministry program at your church is also very important, not just to the kids, but also for church growth. Church kids grow up to become church youth and ultimately become church adults. I do have a flair for stating the obvious, huh? Are we sometimes too concerned about the “right now”? It wouldn’t hurt to look towards the future and imagine the reaping that your church will do when properly trained kids grow up to become the pillars of your assembly. How many people will those kids witness to over the next 20 years? How many families will know your church through them? Many studies show that families that are looking for church homes look for churches that have strong children’s ministries. If the kids aren’t being taken care of, they keep looking. Having a strong children’s department doesn’t mean the kids are just shuffled off to another room; rather it’s the attitude of the entire church body. Are the kids safe? Is the staff competent and anointed? God set up a five fold ministry – teachers must be anointed too.
Look at your church through a child’s eye, walk through your halls, classes, bathrooms, and sanctuary from the perspective of someone that is less than three foot tall. What does a child see? Can a child reach the drinking fountain, faucets, and paper towels? Are there children’s accomplishments or pictures on your bulletin board? Do children ever get any acknowledgements from the pulpit? Do the teachers or children’s works meaningfully engage the students in conversation in each service?
We have been blessed having worked with kids for so many years that we are now starting to see how some of the kids that came through our ministry are as adults. Obviously, there are many factors that determine a child’s path, but I can point to several singers, musicians, teachers, children’s workers, preachers, and even a missionary that we have had the honor of being a children’s pastor to. It is thrilling for Diana and I to know we had even a small part in their development as Apostolic Christians. God is moving us into more evangelism and training now, but we will always be watching those we have pastored, and forgive us if we grin just a little with pride.
Kids are awesome. They deserve our best effort. Our hope is that all of the churches will march our to defeat the enemy that seeks to destroy the little bundles of potential God entrusted us with, all the while hearing their praises in our ears.
Share your opinions with us at ALJCkidz@yahoo.com We would love to get you on the list to receive periodic emails regarding children’s ministry ideas and news from other Apostolic churches across the country.
Tony Wilhelm and his wife Diana are Children’s Evangelists from Sevierville, Tennessee.
The above article, “How Kid Friendly Is Your Church?” is written by Tony Wilhelm. The article was taken from the ApostolicWitness Magazine of September 2007.
The material is most likely copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study and research purposes.