Why We Take Our Kids to Big Church

827529_pews_and_stained_glassA few disclaimers first…

–  This is not the Funderburke Proclamation of how everyone should parent.

–  We are (obviously) not anti-kidmin.  This is just a philosophy that we have adopted in our own home and I wanted to explain why we do what we do.

–  We are big believers that every family has the right and responsibility to figure out how God wants them to parent in their household.  This is just what we do. 🙂

Kids in big church is an oft-debated topic in kidmin world.  Some churches and people consider themselves staunch family-advocates and believe that all children should be in big church with their parents.  Others believe that kids should never be in big church and that children’s ministry is the only place they should be.

Our family lands kind of in the middle.  I love, love, love for my girls to be in age-appropriate environments where they learn about Jesus on their level with friends their age.  I love for them to develop relationships with other adults who love them and who invest in them relationally and spiritually.  I would not have them miss that for the world.  Kaylie and Brenna participating in children’s ministry on Sunday mornings is top priority.

But for our family, since the girls were babies, we have felt that for them to only experience the children’s ministry environments would lead to them missing out on the big picture of the church as a whole.  It may be old-fashioned of us, but I like them seeing and experiencing corporate worship in the realm of big church.  Here are a few reasons why:

–  We want them to see Mommy and Daddy worship.  I want to model worship for our babies and for them to experience it with us.  They will learn about worship and experience worship in kids ministry. But I also want them to experience worship with us as a family, in the corporate setting.  I believe there is something powerful that happens in my little ones’ hearts when Daddy is holding them and singing out to Jesus.  I believe even when they are wiggly, they notice what it looks like for their parents to worship the Savior.  And they join in.  And it is beautiful.

–  We want them to see the other grown ups in their world worship.  Typically in church we sit with the people we do life with.  I love that they see their friends’ parents, their babysitters, their “big” friends, and other people who they have relationships with in church and worshiping God.

–  They absorb a whole lot more than we think.  When the girls go with us, I make them participate in the singing and worship, but allow them to color and draw during the sermon (no offense, pastors).  I am always amazed at how even when I think they are totally engaged in their markers and papers, they will pop up to answer Pastor’s question or whisper something to me that is totally related to what he is talking about.

–  We want them to see baptism and communion.  While our kids’ worship team often brings the kids in to see baptism, that doesn’t happen at every church.  I realized once that kids who only go to kids’ worship for all of their elementary and preschool years could potentially not see baptism or the Lord’s Supper in action until 6th grade.  These are such essential parts of church life and I want them to see it early on.

–  We do want them to learn what big church life is all about.  Several years ago red flags popped up in my own spirit as I watched 6th graders struggle with the transition of moving on to big church.  They just didn’t want to.  After all, they didn’t play games and jump around with motions in there.  It wasn’t “fun”.  I think that is a disservice on our part.  While our motivation is not necessarily to make sure our kids know how to sit still in church, I think it is ok for them to learn that church isn’t always high-entertainment. It is more than the kidmin activities we provide. And, honestly, it does not hurt for them to learn that sometimes we sit and are quiet, even if we don’t really want to be.  That’s life!

–  We are creating spiritual memories.  They are not big huge Disney World type memories.  They are those tiny precious, captured moments.  And I don’t know if my girls will remember much of it, but I will never forget listening to my girls sing “Worthy, You Are Worthy” so sweetly and out loud together.  I will never forget holding Brenna as a baby and singing “God of this City” and asking God to use her to change the world.  That’s probably a selfish reason.  But there you have it.

I am very curious about your thoughts and what you do in your family?  Please share in the comments below!


Comments (4)

  • Colin goes to “Big Church” with us and has for as long as I can remember. He participates in worship but during the sermon I allow him to log onto the Nook and play a game with the sound completely muted. He is 4. He loves to have us hold him during the music and he will watch and observe those around us. Like you mentioned he sees people around us that we live life with so he sees them in a setting of worship but also sees them playing with us outside of church. Win-win in my book.

  • I agree with everything you’re saying, Jenny. My question- do you take your kids to big church every week? Do they ever get to worship in a kids’ church setting?

    I blogged on this subject a while ago… http://firstwesleyankids.blogspot.com/2011/07/why-is-family-worship-important.html

    Our church does have “Family Worship” 3 times during the summer – once a month. Believe it or not, some parents are actually upset that we don’t have kids’ church on those Sundays, and get mad that they can’t just drop their kids off at kids’ church. I have had some parents tell me, “Kids CANNOT sit still in church for that long, physically!!” Well, my answer (in my head is) “YES, THEY, CAN.” It’s only 60 minutes long. They can PHYSICALLY sit for 60 minutes, if you teach them to.

    These are the 6 reasons I listed for why it is important for kids to worship in “big church” on a regular basis (as well as kids’ church) ….. Very similar to your reasons.

    1. Kids get to feel a part of the church body, and see the bigger picture of church.
    2. It keeps families together at church, so they can experience it together, and talk about it together afterwards.
    3. Kids get to worship with their parents.
    4. It lets the congregation see and know the kids.
    5. It teaches kids how to sit through a service.
    6. It teaches kids reverence, respect, and lots of other things that they pick up that we don’t even know.
    7. *it gives the volunteers and children’s pastor a chance to worship in big church too!

    I agree with you about baptism and communion. I always try to schedule a “Family Worship” day at least once a year for those sacraments, because I believe it is important for kids to see.

    *But all that being said, I am a big fan of kids going to kids’ church as well, so they can learn and experience faith and worship at their specific level.

    Great post and good thing for parents to think about!

    • Lynne,
      The way our current church schedule is set we are able to go to early church altogether and they still get to go to Sunday School and kids’ worship. That does mean we have to go to 8:00 worship, so we do not make it every time. 🙂 I would not take them out of kids’ worship every week if our schedule conflicted. But I would try to regularly, especially if I know communion or baptism is coming. Hope that makes sense and thanks for sharing your info.

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