Big Church Hurts

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Big -church

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Back in 2005, we asked Children’s Ministry
Magazine readers where children should worship. Of the 2,032 people
who responded, 48 percent said kids definitely belong in the
corporate worship setting-”big church”-and the other 52 percent
said kids belong in a separate children’s church setting.

Today, in a smaller survey, 56 percent of children’s ministers
surveyed said the kids in their church currently worship in a
separate children’s church setting, while 44 percent said their
kids go to “big church” for worship. This same group said that the
majority of parents (90 percent) and their senior pastor (93
percent) agree with their current setup for where children
worship.
If your church is one of today’s 44 percent that includes kids in
big church, are you accomplishing what you hope? Are you operating
with intention or just ushering kids in with their parents and
keeping your fingers crossed that they’ll stay relatively quiet
throughout the service?

None of us aims for such lowly results-but the truth is many of
our “big-church solutions” to help kids make it through the service
designed for adults actually teach them the art of distraction,
mindless self-absorption, church irrelevancy, or worse. If your
church believes that children should worship with their families in
big church, you may be unwittingly hurting those kids’ faith
through the hidden messages big church sends to them. Consider
these powerful messages kids are at risk of soaking up every
Sunday.

“It’s okay for me to check out of church…I think I’ll
do this for the rest of my life.”

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Getting kids to sit still and be quiet is more easily
accomplished by giving them coloring pages and word puzzles
designed to distract them into not being a nuisance. Kids fall into
the habit of daydreaming or checking out because they don’t
understand the message or traditions, planting the seeds of
unhappiness and discontent with church in a child’s heart. When we
give them random distractions, we’re giving them an avenue to check
out. We’re training kids to turn off their brains and fill worship
time with busywork rather than attention and participation. The
problem with this is that we’re inadvertently teaching kids to
self-distract unless we give them something that has a direct tie
to that week’s message. Anything we give kids has to get them more
involved-not less-in the service they’re attending.
     

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