Some churches in the United States are not admitting children into worship services in an effort to keep disruptions at a minimum as to not interrupt prayer and the pastor's message.
At South Carolina's NewSpring Church, children are not allowed to attend the worship service and the doors are even locked after the sermon starts, according to staff representatives at NewSpring.
An article published recently in Christianity Today brings to light some of the sensitive issues discussed today about limiting disruptions during church worship services.
Churches like North Carolina’s Elevation Church reportedly removed a young boy with cerebral palsy from the church service because he was disrupting the service one Sunday.
Actions like this prompt the question on whether or not children should be allowed to attend “big church?” Should churches try to minimize disruptions in services or should the entire family be allowed to attend worship?
There are two sides to this debate.
One group of religious leaders and churchgoers say people should not be considered as “disruptions” and congregations should have a choice whether to bring their children to church. The other argument poses a more difficult stance. Some say disruptions take away from the worship experience and allowing noisy children to disrupt a worship service should be disallowed.
NewSpring staffers say children are not allowed in the worship service because the worship service material is above their heads.
“We offer children’s church because children can worship at their level and the children really enjoy their programs. Right now for instance, we are talking about sex in the adult worship hour,” a NewSpring staff representative told The Christian Post.
Christine Daye, guest ministry director at Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois, said, “Willow Creek puts a priority on creating an environment that helps people engage in worship without distractions during the service.”
“By providing a variety of venues like the main auditorium having parents' viewing rooms and a video café area, people may view the service. Nobody has to miss the message, regardless of their circumstances,” she said in an interview with Christianity Today.
“We rarely have issues with disruptions during the service, but if one arises, the Guest Ministry team assesses the situation and takes appropriate next steps, which could mean respectfully suggesting one of the alternate viewing options."
Willow Creek is like many churches today that are offering “alternatives” during worship services.
Parents with an upset child, for instance, can politely excuse themselves to the viewing room or to an outside parlor area to calm the child and never miss the pastor’s Sunday morning message.
Dustin Boles, pastor of Mosaic Church in Ocean Springs, Miss., says the entire family is welcome to attend his services.
Elementary age children are not stopped from attending worship services, but the church offers age appropriate activities and curriculum during services called “Mosaic Kids.”
“We believe that children should not sit down and be quiet, but stand up and be counted,” Boles says about Mosaic.
Scottie May, associate professor at Wheaton College, says he appreciates churches that regard the typical children’s noisy disruptions during services as “holy noise.”
He told Christianity Today that it really depends on the nature of the disturbance.
“But if a disturbance comes from someone in a tantrum, a child is having a tantrum, then I think that child needs to be removed from the service so that child is not embarrassed by their out-of-control behavior,” he said.
Cary Monaco, of the Liberty Baptist Church in Chandler, Oklahoma, wrote a column about the debate over church disruptions.
“In many churches today it’s hard to get much out of it through the people coming and going, conversations going on, rattling wrappers, slurping drinks and smacking food,” he writes.
“That’s not to mention the rowdy kids who aren’t made to sit up and shut up, the watch alarms, cell phone ring tones, and the invitation-killing sound of dozens of Bible covers being zipped up at the conclusion of sermons.”
Monaco believes we are to respect and glorify God at all times, but most especially in His house. He refers to Leviticus 19:30 as it reads, “Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord.”
"Here the Bible directs to ‘reverence’ God’s sanctuary. Certainly the application can be made to church services which feature ministry and worship to the Lord as did the Hebrew Tabernacle and Temple,” he argues.
Lifeway Christian Resources representatives told The Christian Post that they are developing more children’s worship resources for churches today than in years past.
Kid’s Own Worship Hour, TeamKID, Kid’s Own Worship, and other ministry kits are available for churches as an alternative to bringing children to church.
The G-Force curriculum has become particularly popular among church directors. G-Force is a fun-filled, high-energy, theme-driven kid's Bible study, full of colorful visuals and cool music.
The high-impact children’s program was developed in partnership with Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas and was designed to be a fun, interactive, high-energy, high-tech experience for elementary-age children.
However, Lifeway also offers Kid’s Worship Bulletins for children who do attend the main worship service hour at their church. Many of their bulletins refer to Scripture including when Jesus said in Matthew 19:24, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
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