Adults and Children Together in Church Community

I learned two simple rules from a very early age: (1) "Kids are to be seen, but not heard." and (2) "What I see or hear here, stays here." The adults in my life wanted me to be quiet and not repeat anything I'd heard. Sometimes the Church has the same approach when it comes to how to handle children in community. At the very least, this is a missed opportunity.

I'm not saying kids MUST be present at all times. No time without the kids makes for both a bad marriage and bad church community. When dealing with serious sin or having conversations that young children aren't yet mature enough to handle, it's helpful to have some sort of childcare provided. But some churches use these reasons as an excuse to never have the kids around.

kids in church.jpg

Here are three reasons I believe having kids and adults together when the church community gathers is important:

  • By participating in community with adults, kids experience church life that doesn't revolve around them. To love and serve one another (particularly others who are different from us) is a learned behavior. Learning to love someone who is different is requires being with other people who are different. So, it's important to have older and younger people, singles and those who are married, rich and poor, and those who are culturally different together in community. When we exclude any group, everyone ends up weaker. Faith doesn't grow or flourish on it's own.
     
  • When kids are present, adults are reminded what childlike faith looks like. As we get older and think we're wiser, our passion for our faith seems to diminish. We lose the wonder we once had. Kids still have the sense of dependence adult faith often lacks. As Christ said, "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 18:3).
     
  • As kids participate in the larger church community, we all mature. When a younger generation is around adults, the kids are reminded that their faith needs to be growing and maturing. Without older examples, their childlike faith can become childish faith. Worshiping together helps our kids develop the kind of faith that will hold up against the trials and temptations of adulthood. But kids aren't the only ones who mature when generations worship together. When adults learn how to communicate the things of faith to the children present in worship or their small group, they mature as well. This is what should drive our ministry endeavors. Our goal should be to "...present everyone mature in Christ. (Colossians 1:28).

Adults and kids need each other. We can learn from one other. As this happens, our community will be stronger.

Punching Fear In The Face

Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
— 1 John 4:4 ESV

God has blessed my family with people who share their lives on mission with us. We celebrate together, cry together, experience God together and play games together among other things. One of my favorite things for our family to do during the summer is go to Six Flags. We will invite people from our small group to join us. It is fun to watch my kids get excited to have our friends join us and want to ride with them and have fun with them throughout the day. Last year, Kristy joined us and was riding rides with my daughter Josie. On one of the rides, Josie, who is normally very bold when it comes to rides, was a little scared. Kristy was there to help encourage Josie and told her, "Yeah, I'm a little scared too, but we're gonna do this! We're gonna punch fear in the face!" This made Josie laugh and helped to encourage her to ride the ride.

The amazing thing for me as a parent is that I know I don't have to raise my kids alone. My kids respect and are known by the people in my small group. I know when my sons and daughter are teenagers there are going to be other adults who will be able to speak into their lives even if they do not want to listen to mom and dad. 

God is knitting together our small group to be more than a church group or more than a bible study. He is forming us together as part of His family. People in relationship with God and each other. As we are adopted by God we become brothers and sisters. I see this happening before my eyes. 

Being formed as a family on mission is God's calling for us.  We can see this throughout the narrative in scripture. Mike and Sally Breen in their book Family on Mission say it this way, "This is rooted in the two key themes of the Scriptures: covenant and kingdom. Covenant means that God has called us into a relationship with himself that leads us to become one with him. Covenant is two becoming one. That's the family part. Kingdom means that our Father who has called us into relationship with himself also happens to have the most important job you can think of--he's the king of the universe. And as the king he's not just looking for a relationship - he's also looking for representatives. That's the mission part - the same people who are in covenantal relationship with him also adopt his mission and learn to represent his kingship to the world."

The great thing about the relationships in my small group is they are mutual. It isn't the adults just teaching other adults or adults teaching kids, but it is also how my kids are challenging and encouraging the adults. Here is a story about how this two-way relationship has worked with my daughter. 

Fast forward to this spring. We spent a Sunday afternoon hiking with a number of people with our small group. During the hike we were on a ledge and Kristy was helping Josie climb down.  Josie said "I'm afraid of heights." Then without missing a beat Josie added, "we're punching fear in the face!"

Wow! Here is discipleship at work. We see a relationship being formed. That mentoring is occurring and now the student is instructing the teacher. What an encouragement as a parent to know that my kids have godly men and women in their life that they respect and have fun with to speak truth in their lives when they need it. 

Do you have relationships in your life that you are living a life on mission? 

Are there other godly relationships speaking into your life? Your kids lives? 

How is your church helping to build relationships to be on mission? Share your stories with us below.

Family Friday Links 3.27.15

Here is our weekly list of links we've found helpful and hope you do as well:

John Murchison writing for the Verge Network answered the "how" of kids and community. He wrote, "... real life community doesn’t usually consist of people sitting in a circle and taking turns talking." Having our kids around and involved is necessary if we are going to be on mission.

Christian Fox wrote a post for Desiring God on the topic of Mom's need for theology. She wrote, "So moms, theology isn’t just for pastors, teachers, and professors; it’s for you too." She spends time developing the reasons for this.

Greg Baird had a post on what children need and want. He starts the post this way, "Anyone who has ever tried to teach children understands that they can be maddeningly complex and yet wonderfully simple." If we want to be effective at reaching kids we would be wise to read and apply what Greg is sharing.

What have you been reading online? Leave us a link in the comment section and one of us will check it out.