A few disclaimers first…
- This is not the Funderburke Proclamation of how everyone should parent.
- We are (obviously) not anti-kidmin. This is just a philosophy that we have adopted in our own home and I wanted to explain why we do what we do.
- We are big believers that every family has the right and responsibility to figure out how God wants them to parent in their household. This is just what we do.
Kids in big church is an oft-debated topic in kidmin world. Some churches and people consider themselves staunch family-advocates and believe that all children should be in big church with their parents. Others believe that kids should never be in big church and that children’s ministry is the only place they should be.
Our family lands kind of in the middle. I love, love, love for my girls to be in age-appropriate environments where they learn about Jesus on their level with friends their age. I love for them to develop relationships with other adults who love them and who invest in them relationally and spiritually. I would not have them miss that for the world. Kaylie and Brenna participating in children’s ministry on Sunday mornings is top priority.
But for our family, since the girls were babies, we have felt that for them to only experience the children’s ministry environments would lead to them missing out on the big picture of the church as a whole. It may be old-fashioned of us, but I like them seeing and experiencing corporate worship in the realm of big church. Here are a few reasons why:
- We want them to see Mommy and Daddy worship. I want to model worship for our babies and for them to experience it with us. They will learn about worship and experience worship in kids ministry. But I also want them to experience worship with us as a family, in the corporate setting. I believe there is something powerful that happens in my little ones’ hearts when Daddy is holding them and singing out to Jesus. I believe even when they are wiggly, they notice what it looks like for their parents to worship the Savior. And they join in. And it is beautiful.
- We want them to see the other grown ups in their world worship. Typically in church we sit with the people we do life with. I love that they see their friends’ parents, their babysitters, their “big” friends, and other people who they have relationships with in church and worshiping God.
- They absorb a whole lot more than we think. When the girls go with us, I make them participate in the singing and worship, but allow them to color and draw during the sermon (no offense, pastors). I am always amazed at how even when I think they are totally engaged in their markers and papers, they will pop up to answer Pastor’s question or whisper something to me that is totally related to what he is talking about.
- We want them to see baptism and communion. While our kids’ worship team often brings the kids in to see baptism, that doesn’t happen at every church. I realized once that kids who only go to kids’ worship for all of their elementary and preschool years could potentially not see baptism or the Lord’s Supper in action until 6th grade. These are such essential parts of church life and I want them to see it early on.
- We do want them to learn what big church life is all about. Several years ago red flags popped up in my own spirit as I watched 6th graders struggle with the transition of moving on to big church. They just didn’t want to. After all, they didn’t play games and jump around with motions in there. It wasn’t “fun”. I think that is a disservice on our part. While our motivation is not necessarily to make sure our kids know how to sit still in church, I think it is ok for them to learn that church isn’t always high-entertainment. It is more than the kidmin activities we provide. And, honestly, it does not hurt for them to learn that sometimes we sit and are quiet, even if we don’t really want to be. That’s life!
- We are creating spiritual memories. They are not big huge Disney World type memories. They are those tiny precious, captured moments. And I don’t know if my girls will remember much of it, but I will never forget listening to my girls sing “Worthy, You Are Worthy” so sweetly and out loud together. I will never forget holding Brenna as a baby and singing “God of this City” and asking God to use her to change the world. That’s probably a selfish reason. But there you have it.
I am very curious about your thoughts and what you do in your family? Please share in the comments below!