Friday, September 9, 2016

A Bad Reason for Returning to the Institution: Kids


Institutional churches tend to offer lots of activities for kids. These are generally heavy on entertainment and light on theology. The fun keeps the children happy, which in turn keeps mom and dad happy.

When Christians depart the institution they leave the fun and games behind. In simple church life the kids tend to be right there with mom and dad regardless of what is happening. This can be during bible study, eating, or whatever else. If the kids are used to church being full of fun and games, they might long for a return to institutionalization. Likewise, if mom and dad desire more peace and quiet, they too might want to go back.

The reality is that simple church life can be messy. Kids are messy. They are active and they are loud. They are also awesome to have around because of their energy and vibrancy. If a small group embraces children as a real part of the group then wonderful things can happen. The kids benefit from being part of everything that is happening. The older folks benefit from the kids' enthusiasm. As the apostle Paul tells us that the entire church is a body; the kids are part of that body. The church needs them.

Parents, I strongly encourage you to resist the temptation to go back to Rome for the sake of the kids. They don't need any more church entertainment. It's your responsibility, with the assistance of the church family, to raise your kids in the knowledge of the Lord. There's no better place to do this than in the small group setting. Children gain immeasurably from watching and listening to their parents as part of the group.

Even if your small group has no other children, your kids will be fine. They will learn better how to be around adults. They will not suffer from not being with other kids when the church gathers. They don't need to make more crafts, play more silly games, or watch another lame video. What they need is to be with mom and dad as the body gathers. Keep them with you and resist the pull of the institution.

5 comments:

Paul G said...

Yes, I fully agree :-)

Gunnar said...

I very much agree with what you wrote. I would just add two things. You painted the youth programs at a traditional church as being mostly fluff. That is often true, but at the last church we attended, the youth programs weren’t fluff at all --- there was a strong Biblical emphasis. But even so, I still think the kids benefitted from leaving behind a youth-oriented program and instead experiencing family-based relationships --- dealing with all age groups instead of just getting together with their own age-group. The other thing is what I always harp on --- it is so important that we get together as families outside of church. One of the reasons is that the kids need the relationships too. We are quick to fill our kids’ lives with sports and activities --- they need to see us model real relationship and they need to experience real relationships too.

T Aagard said...

You forgot to add that children can be taught to bless, teach, encourage, and even set the mature example for adults. Children can come prepared to share a scripture, a song, a testimony about witness, seeing God at work, etc. Children can pray, serve, and speak the truth in love. Children can pass out hugs. I got three hugs today. Children can be full participants. They are not there just to listen.

Eric said...

Gunnar,

I am writing in generalities. I'm glad to hear that some youth groups are doing things well; I wish that was the case for most.

I agree with you that families should get together outside of the larger gatherings. In my experience many do. What a joy it is!

Eric said...

Tim,

Thanks for pointing out the active role played by children, and what a benefit it is. I couldn't agree with you more!