Where Do Kids Belong in Church?

puzzle-210786_1280I am fascinated by the variety of ways that churches integrate or segregate age groups for worship gatherings (the former is also known as “inter-generational worship”). Is there a right way or a wrong way to format this as a church? Do some churches have a better handle on how children and adults worship together than others? What do you think?

Some churches segregate the children from the adults for the entire worship time. You arrive at church as a family unit. You split up into your age-appropriate classes and worship services, and then come back together again at the end of the church day and drive home together. Supporters of this format will say that children learn best in their respective age-leveled worship environments and the adults can be free of the distraction of children during adult worship services.

Other churches have the kids with the adults for the entire worship time (usually smaller churches). Supporters of this model will say that the children need to learn about worship by watching the model of adults and also that adults can learn from the faith of children.

And then many churches tend to have some sort of hybrid plan that allows the children to worship with the adults for part of the service and then dismiss to age-appropriate teaching or sermon times. Churches that split the ages for the entire Sunday service may have other inter-generational worship opportunities throughout the calendar (such as an inter-generational service once a month or special mid-week worship gatherings).

A well-known church in the Atlanta area (North Point Community Church) has created a model called Kidstuf where the parents actually join the kids in the children’s church service. I like that model because it turns the tables on what is defined as the “main” worship service of a church. Why do we have to think that the adults are the “main” people and the kids are some sort of auxiliary group to the church community? Why not have the adults join the kids in church for once?

There are plenty of other ways to approach this issue. What does your worshiping community do? Do you think there is a right way or wrong way to approach this?

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Dr. Jesse Joyner travels nationwide as a speaker and entertainer. His primary role is that of a performing juggler spreading joy and the love of learning to family and kids events. H earned his PhD in Educational Studies at Trinity International University (Deerfield, IL). He enjoys playing the piano, bird watching, and old houses. He lives in Richmond, VA with his wife, Sarah, and their three kids - the perfect number for juggling children.