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Children in Church

children & church

I have long been passionate about having children in church. This is a Throwback-Thursday post that is certainly worth repeating. One of the chapters in my book Celebrating Eucharist is Chapter 18 – Children at the Eucharist. At a synod I attended, our church’s national youth adviser stood up and declared that our years of segregating youth from the worshipping community have failed.

Many parish services I visit/attend bear out this reality. Anglicanism is no longer the Tory Party at Prayer. It is not even the Green Party at Prayer. When you look around, many congregations are steadily heading towards being the retirement village at prayer.

If we believe that the church’s life and mission is of value, then rejuvenating the life of the Christian community is important. If we believe that the message of Jesus is worthwhile, then that the generations following the Baby Boomers are mostly not participating in it should at least cause us to sit up.*

We don’t need more programmes. We don’t need more bait-and-switch ways to try and trick people into church. We need to believe in what we do and put it into practice appropriately.

I read these five reasons why children should be in the main service and I repeat them here:

  • Children should not be removed from the main body for convenience sake.
  • Children are a part of the Body of Christ.
  • Children need godly examples of how to worship.
  • Children need to feel like they are a part of the church community.
  • Children who don’t feel like a part of the church community will leave church when they’re older

 What do you think?

If interested, do read the chapter: Children at the Eucharist

*The idea behind this sentence is difficult to express – younger generations may be participating more in the message of Jesus without attending church services and without even using the name “Jesus” or the word “God.” Furthermore, with the way many church people behave, many church communities act, and the issues that many church people put major energy into, the death of church as we know it may be God’s will.

Let’s also at least be honest about the looming end of the church.

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5 thoughts on “Children in Church”

  1. Ruth Hendry-Rennie

    I would like to attend a service.
    It would to advertised as;

    Family/ Children Service

    The content of the service would be High Church
    ( with all the pomp and ceremonial)

    During the service there will be no breaking off of any age group for separate teachings.

    In Trust Ruth

    1. John McLister

      Family Church
      4th Sunday of the month
      St Peter’s Upper-Riccarton
      11am with Pizza Lunch

      Church for all the family – children, young people, parents, grandparents and caregivers together.
      Singing, praying and breaking bread as one.
      Combining the best traditions of Anglican worship
      with contemporary music and traditional hymns.
      Music by the St Peter’s Family Orchestra.

      Contact: jmclister@icloud.com Ph. 0278900308

  2. Fr. John-Julian, OJN

    I grew up in a parish in which children were present throughout the entire Eucharist. Here’s the way its worked. Children were forbidden to be restrained—they wandered about the church, happily and quietly—some even went into the sanctuary. There was a great pile of stuffed (i.e., silent) toys at the entry door. Every parishioner was considered responsible for any children near him/her in the church. Children often left their parents to go and sit with an adult friend. There was no “child noise ” at all.

    The way it was managed is that the rector took the sermon from the middle of the Eucharist (where it would bore children) and put it at the end—at the conclusion of the Eucharist, the celebrant went to the sacristy, removed chasuble and maniple, and then returned and preached the sermon in alb and stole. Meanwhile, the children left for Sunday School.

    Not only did it work well immediately, but in his 27 years as rector, he sent 24 people to seminary! (And I think that may be a record!)

    1. Thanks, Fr John-Julian.
      I’ve heard of churches reversing Ministry of the Sacrament – Ministry of the Word; with children having their own Ministry of the Word.
      The pattern you describe seems to follow an Evensong paradigm – with the office followed by the sermon.
      I wonder if part of the “problem” is that the Eucharist now bears the weight, within about an hour, of the whole of Christian formation – including teaching; and that the sermon is a teaching component…
      Easter Season Blessings

  3. John McLister

    100% agree with you.
    The Sunday school to youth group model is simply an escalator out of the church. We practice a spiritual apartheid based on age, and then lament there are no young people or families at church. All we have done is form our kids into rejecting the faith, because we have never had them worship with us.

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