There's No-Kids-Ken. He is the person who doesn't have children. He hates being asked to help in the children's ministry and he is easily agitated with even the slightest noise made by a child during the sermon.
Then there's Exhausted-Ed. He is the parent who struggles Sunday to Sunday because his child may be in a difficult season. It seems like getting to church is a ridiculous struggle. He hasn't sat through an entire sermon in over a year because his child has some kind of need every week. He can't go to any community groups in the middle of the week because they end too late or don't have much grace for his children. Exhausted-Ed spends a great deal of time in the lobby and wonders why he even bothers coming to church.
Don't overlook Forgetful-Fran. She is a little older now and has raised her children. Yet somehow she seems to have forgotten the challenges that come with children. She has all kinds of insights that rather than being an encouragement, just leave parents feeling bad about themselves. She often finds herself in agreement with No-Kids-Ken. Parents let their guard down only to get blindsided by a snarky comment about their children.
And how many Children's-Ministry-Michelles are out there? She's the director of the children's ministry that many parents treat as a babysitter so they can go do their thing on Sunday mornings. She's hardworking and deeply wants the kids to love Jesus but most of the time parents forget to say thank you because they're too busy criticizing her for something they're unwilling do to themselves. She's often short on help and hasn't attended in the adult worship service in years.
Church, it seems, would be so much easier with all the kids running around. At one point, it appears Jesus' disciples agreed. People were trying to bring their kids to see Jesus and have him pray for their children. The disciples rebuked them, trying to keep the kids away. Jesus was not happy about this and said, "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14, ESV).
Children are a part of the Church. We have an obligation not only to train them up in the way of the Lord, but to include them in the fellowship. So while it might be difficult, we are indeed called to "survive" church with children.
Jared Jenkins and I recently recorded a series on Salty Believer Unscripted about this topic. And because we don't have many answers in this area, we called in Kerryn Talbot and Dr. Randy Stinson to help us understand a little better.
Surviving Church With Children
-- An Introduction to the Issue audio
-- A Correct Attitude Toward Children audio
-- Teaching in Terms They Can Understand audio
-- Behinds the Scene of Children's Ministry with Kerryn Talbot audio
-- Teaching and Preaching "R Rated" Texts audio
-- Training Up Your Adolescent Children with Dr. Randy Stinson audio
-- Training Up Your Teenage Children with Dr. Randy Stinson audio
*Photo take by Aaron Gilson is registered under a creative commons license and used by permission.