I was recently at a conference where I was startled to notice this sign on the doors to the worship center:
I snapped a picture, meaning to blog about it. Very few Presbyterian Churches would have a sign like that. The constitution of our denomination says this:
Children bring special gifts to worship and grow in the faith through their regular inclusion and participation in the worship of the congregation. Those responsible for planning and leading the participation of children in worship should consider the children’s level of understanding and ability to respond, and should avoid both excessive formality and condescension. The session should ensure that regular programs of the church do not prevent children’s full participation with the whole congregation in worship, in Word and Sacrament, on the Lord’s Day.—Directory of Worship W-3.1004; emphasis added.
This is one of those occasional places where I agree completely with my denomination. (I have to assume there’s a movement underfoot to change this wording. … I kid.)
There is also a pragmatic reason to permit kids in worship. Parents who are checking out your church might not be ready to check out your nursery or kid’s programs the same day. It’s simply easier for them to evaluate one thing at a time.
(Of course, they might decide to do both. So it’s important that whatever we provide for kids won’t drive visitors away from our church. Frankly, our kids’ programs are an area that need improvement; I don’t think we’ll have any significant outreach to people younger than 40 until we do. I can remember visiting churches and being perfectly satisfied with the worship and adult activities, but our kids being so miserable about the place that we moved on and kept looking.)
Anyway, before I got around to blogging, I saw this entry on Jon Acuff’s Stuff Christians Like blog. I really like Tripp and Tyler videos, and this one does a good job of presenting the “be considerate about the distractions your kids present to others” case.
But don’t just watch the video. Go read Acuff’s blog; there are a lot of great comments too.