I wrote earlier about the bad, unreformed practice of having “children’s church.” It is a practice that began quite some years ago in the Christian Reformed Church and seems to be growing in popularity. One wonders how such an unreformed practice can make such inroads into the church. After all, it flies in the face of biblical worship. The church is one: one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all. Children are part (a very important part) of that church – see Ephesians 6 and Ezra 10:1.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones has pointed out clearly the folly of dividing the church into a variety of groups in his Preaching and Preachers. All prospective ministers ought to read and digest what he there says.
Let youth, yea, all the throng. Who to thy church belong, Unite to swell the song To Christ our King.
One prevalent argument in favor of “children’s church” is that children can’t understand the sermon, so they might as well go elsewhere to Sunday School. Small children understand a lot more of the sermon than we often give them credit for. Parents can help them in this understanding by discussing the sermon at home with them rather than discussing the latest wins and losses in the sports arena. Our children have to be taught what is important in life. Children do not always understand why they must brush their teeth or why they must go to bed at a certain hour. Parents make them do these things because they know they are important. Later the children will understand the importance of these practices by themselves. So too, children must see the importance of doing some of the regular chores around the house. They may not like to do them, but later they will thank the parents for teaching them responsibility. They learn them over the years.
So it is in the spiritual realm, too. Parents’ teaching and examples have a great influence on young children. Parents teach them what is important: Bible reading, prayer church attendance, etc. Later the children will rise up and call them blessed. The older I get the more thankful I am to my parents for teaching me the importance of the Sunday and the importance of the worship services. They even took us along when the service was in the Dutch language. We belonged there with all the throng.
My parents often went to church by horses and sleigh in the winter and horses and democrat in the summer. We had to travel five miles to church. But they never missed. Sunday was very special to them, and that had a great influence on impressionable minds. We belonged in the regular church service with all the adults. We learned what was important as our parents taught us. What a blessing! No segregation in the church. The children belong there, too. No special “children’s church” somewhere else in the building. My father would have protested vehemently against such a practice. He had his “reformed feelers” too sharply honed for that. We must teach our children what is important. Later, they, too, will understand.
Rev. Jelle Tuininga is an emeritus pastor in the URC living in Lethbridge, Alberta.