Thursday, February 04, 2010

More on "Already Gone"

A while back, I posted on the book "Already Gone" by Ken Ham and Britt Beamer, which claimed that one big reason children leave the church is that they are not taught the Bible from its first verse. Agreed that this is prominent on the Pareto, if you will, but something else occurred to me.

We shuffle children off to their own Sunday School classes, children's church, teen events, youth events......anything but letting them settle into a pew with their parents. In effect, we are teaching them that....

....their place in church is anywhere but in one of the pews, and then we wonder why they take the hint when they're adults--never, ever settling into a pew. Did He not tell us to let the little children come to Him? If we effectively lock children out of adult worship, we should not be surprised when they don't show up when they grow up. Maybe it's time we put fidget dolls back in the pews and remind the adults that if they want young ones to come to and stay with Him, they'll do well to tolerate a little bit more noise from the shorter members of the congregation.


pentamom said...


And in some churches, when they do let kids back in, they're encouraged to sit as a "youth" tribe. I wonder if that could lead to not thinking they have a place in church when they grow up and don't have a "tribe" to be with? If kids are used to families sitting together, and singles either sitting as individuals or -- better yet -- with families with whom they're friends, then they'll figure out that when they grow up and are no longer part of their home church, they'll fit into a similar niche.

Night Writer said...

That's something our church hit upon several years ago, and we've long encouraged families to stay together for the service and for everyone to bear with one another when there's crying and fidgetting.

I don't know how successful this has been. I believe the concept is sound, but it has been a challenge, especially for those who are used to doing things a certain way. It's not just kids and teens who seek to be separate - the parents are often all too glad to hand their off-spring to the Children's Church leader or Youth Pastor for spiritual development, just as they turn their kids over to the public school teachers for education/indoctrination.

The real issue, I believe, with the youth isn't how or what they're taught in church, but what they're taught at home. Whether academic education or spiritual education, the best resource and the primary responsibility is with the parents.

A related post, perhaps:

pentamom said...

Night Writer, I agree with you that it begins at home, but sending your children away from worship is an extension of your parental attitude, right? So it's just symptomatic of what IS happening (or failing to happen) at home.

Our church has always encouraged families to stay together. Several years ago nursery time was limited to the portion of the service beginning with the sermon, and to children below age three. The session recommended that parents begin training their children to remain in worship well before that. (Of course, if a visitor wants to drop off a four year old, we don't shoo them away, but it's pretty obvious that the nursery is for very young children only.)

Most parents don't usually "leave" their kids in the nursery but take the babies out and walk them or let them move around (we have speakers in other parts of the church) if they are particularly noisy, but we've all gotten used to coos and whimpers. Ours is a very small church, so frequently the person on "nursery" duty winds up being unemployed.