Our Question Box

Dr. Leonard Greenway, pastor of the Riverside Christian Reformed Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan, is in charge of Our Question Box. This department is for everyone. Questions from all ages are welcome.

From a reader in Western Michigan:

Question: Several churches of different denominations in our area have “Children’s Church” Sunday mornings during the regular hour of worship. The little children do not meet with the rest of the people but have their own “spiritual exercises” in the church basement. These “exercises” include a brief Bible story, film strips, singing and “project handwork.” The argument is that such activities are much more meaningful and understandable to kindergartners and first and second graders. Sentiment now is being expressed in our congregation in favor of introducing such a “Children’s Church” on Sunday mornings. (Nothing is said about Sunday evenings. Apparently the little ones are not expected then.) My husband and I would like a suggestion as to how we can stand up against this growing sentiment.

Answer: You are to be commended for your courage and willingness to stand up against this growing sentiment. Undoubtedly you are aware that you belong to a group of like-minded church members that is shrinking in numbers. It is surprising how many people are falling for the line that the average formal worship service is not beneficial to little children. Even with all our valuable insights received from modern psychology we continue to underestimate the powers of assimilation possessed by an average healthy child. A strong point for you to make, as you resist the promotion of a “Children’s Church,” is to stress the fact that young children can be taught to cultivate feelings of what is solemn and religiously important. Even though they have little comprehension of the elements of formal worship, the important thing is that they shall feel something of what is serious and solemn. The understanding will come in its time. Meanwhile let these children see their elders full of devotion and let them profit from its example and radiance. Devoutness and reverence are not in oversupply nowadays. Let us not cripple the spiritual development of our children by excluding them from those places and occasions where religious contemplation and reflection are stimulated in an atmosphere of formal worship.