Children in the Pews?

JeffKlickPhoto-138-207-06162014Children in the Pews?

By Dr. Jeffrey A. Klick

Mark 10:14-16“Jesus said ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it’. And He took the children in his arms, put His hands on them and blessed them.”

This passage of Scripture has always intrigued me. If you read the verses before this one you see that there were people (the disciples) rebuking the children telling them to be quiet, keep still, don’t make noise, etc. and Jesus brushes past them and picks up the children and includes them into His teaching, not only that, he elevates the children to the position of role models.

Have you ever noticed that children have an incredible knack for asking probing questions? They listen to a message and then ask questions that really challenge their parents. “What is faith daddy?” “How big is God mommy?” “The pastor said God could do anything daddy, why are you so upset about money?” We could probably learn a great deal from viewing God through the eyes of children.

In Jesus’ day they did not have nurseries, children’s church, or junior church, because families learned together. The children were part of everything and they were taught to sit still and listen. The children learned from their parents’ example. Search the Scriptures diligently, but you will not find children isolated away from the parents during any congregational gathering. Why do so many parents and churches send them away today?

Sure, it takes discipline to train a baby or toddler to sit still. But it can be done. I believe it should be done! A child can sit and color for hours; surely they can sit for 30 to 40 minutes and listen to a message from the Word of God. “But they won’t understand the message,” the parent states. True at first, but what a wonderful opportunity for the parent to explain what was said and what it means to the child. The result is that the parent becomes wise in the child’s eyes instead of a talking puppet or six foot dog often used in children’s ministry to explain the powerful truths of the Gospel.

If a message is “over their heads,” it gives the parents an opportunity to break it down to their level (teaching is the best way to learn!). By explaining it to a child, you will be sure you understand it as well! Some parents encourage their children to listen for key words and draw pictures of the main points and this keeps their attention, and, it really blesses me as their pastor when they come up after a service and share their pictures with me.

A father came to me one day after the service and said, “Your message wasn’t very deep today.” By God’s grace I replied, “Well, what a wonderful opportunity for you to take the next six days and delve as deep as you wish with your children. Begin where I ended and dig as deeply as you wish until next Sunday.” From that conversation, I began to encourage the parents to use my sermons as a launching point for their family discussions/devotion times. Most of us that teach cannot possibly say everything about anything in one message. However, the parent can take what is shared and discuss it all week long with the family. What a blessing if every family member is hearing and discussing the same Scriptures all week!

Children need to see their parents’ worship, pray, take notes, and be involved with the service. We as parents teach much more by example than our words. “I just need a break from these kids.” states the weary parent. Is the worship service really the proper (or best) time for the break? I know children can be tiring, but isn’t the worship of God THE most important thing we should be teaching our children? Is this really the time to take a break and delegate it away to someone else?

I have worked with hundreds of teenagers over the last thirty years. One common complaint is that they are bored in church. In the typical church, children are removed from the services beginning shortly after birth. They are fed crackers and juice in nurseries, then graduate to children’s church, often entertained with loud noise, bright colorful puppets and video, eventually move into a youth type church with loud music, skits, and games, and finally grow too old for the fun and end up in big church – bored to tears. Every major study shows our young people are leaving the church in droves. Do we really have to wonder why? Some churches are attempting to change their services to accommodate the fleeing youth, but is that really the answer?

I believe a better, more Biblical answer, is to help train the parents to keep the children with them in the service. Train a child from birth to be part of something bigger than their own entertainment. Let the children see their parents taking notes, worshipping, and enjoying the church service. If we never expose them to the face paced, entertainment oriented ministry, they will not miss it when they integrated into “big church,” which, by the way, is where they will spend the rest of their lives if they walk with the Lord.

The children might even learn to enjoy listening, taking notes, worshipping and being part of both their own family and the family of God. As parents, I can think of no greater joy than introducing my children to the Lord, and helping them grow in their faith, rather than isolating them into some remote corner of the building being trained by a stranger.

About Dr. Jeffrey A. Klick

Dr. Jeff Klick has been in fulltime ministry for over thirty years (since 1981). He currently serves as the senior pastor at Hope Family Fellowship in Kansas City, Kansas, a church he planted in 1993. Dr. Klick married his high school sweetheart, Leslie, in May of 1975. They have three adult children and ten grandchildren. Dr. Klick loves to learn and has earned a professional designation, Certified Financial Planner, earned a Master’s degree in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary, a Doctorate in Biblical Studies from Master’s International School of Divinity, and a Ph.D. in Pastoral Ministry from Trinity Theological Seminary . In addition to serving as senior pastor at Hope Family Fellowship, Dr. Klick is a consultant with The Institute for Church Management, weekly shares on two radio shows on the Alive in Christ Radio Network, and also serves on the Board of Directors for The Council for Family-Integrated Churches. Dr. Klick is a frequent blogger on several websites and has published multiple books.

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