Group Publishing
Subscribe Button

Big Church Hurts

Debbie Vallejo and Jennifer Hooks

Big -church

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."

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.

Print Article Print Article Blog network
Copyright © 2014 by Group Publishing, Inc.