Monday, June 25, 2007

Children's Church- to send or not to send?

There are many who think that sending children to Sunday School is somehow harmful to them, and that they should stay in the pew with their parents at all times. This is a growing idea that many get from books like Parenting from the Pew by Robbie Castleman. (see comment below)

Below are some reasons why I think Sunday School can be very beneficial. First off, let me say that I respect a parent's right to do what they want with their own children. No church should tell parents what they should do in this area. Parents should discuss and decide for themselves what to do in this area.

  1. Having children in the service is a distraction. I don't care how well-behaved and well-trained your children are, there are times when they will be a distraction, especially to you as parents, but also to those around you. Babies cry; 2-yr-olds squirm. Even if you do train them, they can be a big distraction during that training period. Does your right to parent how you want trump others' right to be able to focus on the sermon?

  2. Along those lines, you, as a parent will not get as much out of the service if your children are with you. Parents need time to spend with God without distraction. With children, these times are already rare. You must covet and value the time you do have.

  3. Children need lessons on their own level. Yes, your children will get more out of an adult sermon than you think they would, but is it as much as they would have gotten out of a lesson that is tailor-made for their understand and learning style? Children, especially boys, learn better from hands-on activities and visual stimulation. Many site the excuse that their church doesn't have a good and challenging curriculum. They find them coloring a page of Noah and the ark for the hundredth time. If your church doesn't have a challenging curriculum, find one that does!! They may be rare, but they do exist. See:

  4. Children need to start practicing fellowship now. They need to realize that the church is bigger than just their own family. Through associating with children their own age, they can learn to minister to others, to pray for them and be prayed for, and just to learn from each other. Many families who keep their children in the service are homeschooling families. I'm all for homeschooling, but these families need to look for opportunities for their children to be around others their own age. No, other children are not perfect, but could it be possible that one of them could influence your child in a positive way? (gasp!) Maybe? Also, your "perfect" little ones need to be out there being useful and influencing others for the better as well. Nothing magical happens at age 18 that makes your child somehow now able to minister to weaker people. This can happen at age 3! Why deny them that awesome opportunity?

  5. Since the church is bigger than just your family, you need to learn how to trust others with your children. I think this is a big issue for homeschooling parents. Children need to know that there are adults who care about them and God, other than just their parents. The idea that "Our family does it the right way, and hardly anyone else does," is a dangerous and infectious thing to teach your children. By not trusting other adults with your children, are you teaching them this? They might even be able to teach them something you haven't yet. (gasp! again) It also makes babies and toddlers more secure if they are left with other adults every once in awhile. (There is balance in this. I think if they are left on a daily basis, this causes insecurity, but if it never happens, that can also cause insecurity.)

  6. It builds their immune system. Many complain that their children come home sick every time they are in the nursery. Usually, this will only be temporary. This is a crucial age, where if they are exposed to others' germs, they can build good immunity toward those bugs and just in general for later in life. Have patience with this, because it really is good for your kids if you can wait out the initial "sick" period.


  1. I do not say anywhere in the book that Sunday School should be discouraged for children. What I do say is that children should be in worship with the congregation. What happens in many churches is that parents go to worship while children are in Sunday School (instead of going to both, parents and children need both!). Then children grow and are often sent of to a "youth service" geared for their interests and teenaged tastes. Then off to college or the adult world...and parents wonder why their children don't value their worship tradition and end up either out of the church all together or into a congregational community that still caters to their taste.
    Of course it doesn't have to be this way, but studies are showing that his is a significant trend.
    My point in writing: Sunday School is good for children and their parents. But it is unwise as a substitute for worship with the family of faith. Robbie Castleman

  2. Thanks for commenting. I must admit that my post was in response to another post I read that was in response to your book (a fan of your book). My post was not in response to your book. I only mentioned the book because the blogger I was responding to said she got her ideas from your book, and I disagreed with her. I must admit I have never read your book, but now I want to! Thank you so much for setting the record straight.

  3. Robbie, I am a huge fan of your book, but I have a question regarding selecting a new church. What is the best way to contact you directly to ask a question? Thanks!!