Thursday, June 18, 2015

Why Do Many Christians Segregate by Age?

God has given parents a massive joy and duty: care of their children. In light of this why do many Christians segregate by age when the church gets together? (This post comes from Sorry, But I Can't Stop Asking Questions.)

Most institutional churches have age segregated Sunday School classes. Then, during worship services, the kids depart for Children's Church. In many other churches the kids don't even enter the worship services at all; they simply go from Sunday School straight to an entirely kid-directed worship time. Regardless of specifics, most Christian parents depend upon other adults to influence their children during church gatherings. Why is this the case?

My guess is that answers vary to my question. Some parents are just going with the flow of tradition. It is simply a matter of copying the secular school system in this country. Other parents probably do it because they want a break from their kids. Other parents actually believe that age segregation benefits the children. Still others are happy that their children will enjoy "kid appropriate" lessons. The list goes on.

The fact is that young people are departing from the church institution at a frightening rate. Thus, something is wrong. Could that thing be a failure on the part of parents to properly evangelize and disciple their children? Could this have anything to do with parents handing their kids off to others during church meetings?

Age segregation goes largely unchallenged within institutional Christianity. This is so much the case that, for example, family-integrated Sunday School classes are frequently looked upon with suspicion. I'm not joking. This is because so many parents have bought into the faulty idea that splitting up by age grouping is a good thing. They believe this despite all evidence to the contrary.

So, why do many Christians segregate by age? The primary answer is, "Because we've always done it that way."


Peter Horvatin said...

Hey Eric,

Interesting that in most home churches there is not this type of separation unless one of the children becomes extremely unruly during the gathering of believers.


Brian said...

My opinion is not a popular one. I see it just as I see corporate advertising. Ads are segmented to appeal to certain age groups to get them to believe and buy into their product. church is the same way. Segment them out to get them to believe and back the institutional system.

Tim A said...

I think there is another key answer that is equal or greater than "We have always done it that way". "We like doing it that way to please our flesh" which is justified with "everyone learns better when teaching is directed to specific ages." I also think a big reason for sending children away is that lecturing the word is really boring for every age. The adults have pity on the children but have not depth to question if "preach the word..." actually means lecture the word. Of course it doesn't mean that. Believers are happy with someone else doing the study, so much so that they are willing to consume 84% of their giving on average to buy that outsourcing of preparing and expressing God's truth on a weekly basis. The hired man likes the pay check and the status.