Okay, this may be a bit of a personal question and I’ve been contemplating asking you all but here it goes…
We are in the process of trying to find a Church home- after moving states this has been a challange for us.
Most of the churches that we have been visiting have youth groups. We have an almost teen and are considering visiting them, however we are very cautious at the same time.
What do you all think of youth groups? Do your teens go to them? Have they been good for them? Has it helped them socially? etc.
On the same note, how do you all feel about nurserys and childrens church? We’ve always had our kids in the service with us but everywhere we’ve gone, there is always somewhere for them to go during the service. I would love to hear your pro’s and con’s.
Also, it seems that the churches we’ve been visiting don’t have any homeschoolers or stay at home moms, etc. Most of the kids go to public schools and or their mom works outside the home. Do you think these things (shared family values)are important in finding a church home?
I know these are some controversial and deep issues to discuss so I hope that I’m not stepping too far out on a limb here. If I am, please let me know.
Can you tell we terribly miss our church family back in Missouri?
Love to yah all!
Hi Heather, I have twin 16 year old girls and I know exactly what you are talking about – before we moved to Illinois, we went to a church and we did allow the girls to go to the youth group for a time – I also attended as a volunteer – however after a while it became apparent that this group was more interested in worldly things than Godly things. The girls were shocked by some of the behavior and discussions the girls had at the group and though the youth leader tried to make it a Godly group, the majority of the teens took little notice. We stopped going and the girls have said, they don’t want to participate in any more youth groups. I always kept them with us during church services when they were young, I think it is a great way to teach youngsters how to behave in the Lord’s House and I never regretted that decision. They always had their little Bible notebooks to write in, or color in and they enjoyed being part of the family event.
Of course every youth group is different, and I am sure there must be some excellent ones out there. I think if your teen is desperate to try one, then go along with them to check it out and go for a while to see what the kids are like, then make a decision.
It is a minefield out there for youngsters and it is our duty I believe to protect them, however depending on the teens, some groups may be fine. Sadly the one bad experience was enough for our daughters and me. I don’t want all that we have taught them to be undermined at any group – so it pays to be watchful. I do think that it is important to have shared values with some of the people who go to church, and this was a problem with the youth group we attended, all the kids were in public school and they thought our daughters were dumb because they did not know the latest groups, or fashions, makeup etc and worst of all, the obsession with boys was beyond a joke – the girls felt very uncomfortable and as such we decided it was not for us.
I am sure others will write with more positive experiences – but my advice would be don’t just send them, go with them and check it out – a few visits will tell you all you need to know – and as for the little ones, I would keep them with you, God’s house and services are for families – I am a great believer in keeping together for these things. Just my opinion, and hope I have not offended anyone. Lindy
Heather, I think you’ve asked a great question — especially since we homeschool, and the group of believers we fellowship with should be an extension of what we teach in the home. It’s an important part of our children’s being discipled.
Lindy, I so appreciate your wise words and gracious spirit in your reply, and I fully agree with you. Rather than write out all my reasons here, I’ll just link to this little article I wrote about church and home on our sister site, Intentional Parents.
Sonya – what an absoultely brilliant article – and how true. It is of course for everyone to decide what is best for their own families – but I was raised in an old fashioned by today’s standards church in England where all the activities were family oriented, we were not apart from our parents and we all participated as well as we were able together. I remember singing in the choir when I was very young, having a little notebook to take my own notes in, though it was mostly scribble when I was young – I just felt like a grown up copying my parents – the church involved us little ones in everything, putting out hymn books, helping with whatever we could. I remember those days with real pleasure and I miss that these days, everything is mega these days and so impersonal. I hope everyone reads that article and gains from it. Thank you and bless you Sonya. Lindy
I agree with Sonya and Lindy. It is my experience that youth group teaching materials are geared more toward the experiences kids may encounter at institutional schools and/or they try to take the place of the parent by covering certain topics such as dating.
As for keeping your kids with you in the church service, by all means keep them with you. It is the best place for them!
We’ve also chosen to keep our kids with us when we attend Sunday school classes and Bible studies. Keeping our kids with us has allowed them to learn from older men and women, given them “meatier” Bible lessons than what is typically taught in children’s classes, and allows them to mature as part of the whole church body.
The most important thing in selecting a church is the doctrine taught there. As long as you are not being condemned by people in the church for your family choices, it shouldn’t matter if all the other kids attend public school or all the other moms work. They probably still share some of your family values. However, if there is an attitude at the church that children are a bother and not a blessing that is probably a big clue that that church is not for you.
Hope this helps.
Wow! Bravo for bringing up such a difficult topic. Sonya and Lindy express beautifully and graciously the position of many of my friends on this issue. I have a bit of a unique position in all of this because we also ascribe to the Charlotte Mason method and in many respects have started down the path of not doing things the way others do them. However, my husband is an Associate Pastor of Youth and Families. So… our views are a bit different.
We love Sunday School and we love youth group. We love that godly men and women are speaking truth to our children. We stay very involved in what they learn by having them narrate it back to us at home. BUT my main reason to send our children to Sunday school and youth group is less about them learning the bible. They get that from us at home. My real goal is to teach them to love others in the group… even if those people aren’t like them. I want them to be in community with all ages. We encourage friendships with the elderly people in our church as well as being kind to the babies. But we feel strongly that they need to learn how to deal with fashion crazy girls without being judgemental of them. Our heart is that they will pray for their friends and encourage them as with all the “one another” verses in the Bible. We remind them that someone always feels left out, even when they’re grown-ups. So, God-willing, they will look to meet the needs of others, not just build little kingdoms for themselves (as is all of our tendencies). :) Is this difficult? Sure. Will my children fail and get self-righteous or start to look like their friends? Maybe. Probably. But this is the real heart stuff of life and where better to find these tendencies out than with us, as their parents participating in youth groups and having real relationships with them at home.
So… that’s my .02 worth. I believe each of you know your children’s hearts and what is best for them, and we trust God to lead as He sees fit. I have dear friends in my church who don’t send their kids to our youth group. I think the key to all of this, as Sonya said in her post, is dealing with others in love. Praying and seeking to uphold the unity of the church, not all of us doing the same actions, but all of us loving the same God.
I had no idea I would log on and find so much response to these questions. Thank you all! Thank you, Lindy, for sharing your experiences as this helps in making our decision. Sonya, your article hit home more ways than one. It meant so much to know that we are not the only ones who have felt concerned about the families being disassembled at church. Karen, thank you for solidifying the fact that it is a “good” thing to keep our kids with us in church. Jen, I appreciate your take on this issue too as it sheds light on a bit of a different angle. I have so much more to say on this and questions to ask but I think for now, my DH and I will continue to take it before the Lord. I’m realizing this is no small matter. Thank you all for sharing- truly.
Love in Christ,
Hi! Blessings to you for bringing up this topic. I have actually wanted to bring this up as well, but hesitated! Glad you didn’t though! We, as a christian CM homeschooling family, have had the SAME concerns. My husband and I have visited church after church, and we have always bumped into similar issues. We are still in limbo, and have continually been praying for God to lead us to a church where we can grow in Christ TOGETHER! I also appreciate and enjoyed reading Lindy’s response. That is wonderful advice. And Sonya’s article says it all. This is comforting to know that other families do have the same values and concerns that we do. We now know we are not alone! This is such an encouraging forum! I am glad you brought this up! It’s too bad we don’t all live close together and could form our own “family” style church to worship together in! All we can do is continue to pray and certainly in time, God will lead the way! He always does!
I just wanted to chime in and let you all know that there is a website that can help you locate “family-integrated” churches in your area. Family integrated churches usually offer family Sunday School classes and worship for the entire family. If you search for “family-integrated” church in Google it should bring up the website and you can put in your State and it will bring up churches that have listed themselves on the website. There is a really good book about keeping your family together in church called “Family Driven Faith” written by Voddie Bauchaum (sp??), we heard him speak at the CHAP convention – he was an excellent speaker! He also has a website that I believe links to the Family Integrated website. I hope this information helps someone. Blessings, Wendi
Thank you so much Wendi…I will definately check that site out…and that book!
Thanks, Wendi, for the link and the recommended book! This is great to know these are out there and available. I’m off to search now!
Blessings to you in the Lord!
You’re welcome…I hope the information does help you.
Our family attends a traditional church with Childrens Church and we have always had problems with our children separating from us as babies – so I’ve spent a lot of time in our Church nursery – the nursery workers would always say it was ok for me to leave (when it wasn’t my week in nursery), they don’t mind crying babies – but it just didn’t feel right to me. Last fall it was time for our oldest to start attending Childrens Church and I went with him on the first Sunday – and decided that I would rather him come in the service with us. I do not mean any disrespect to childrens ministry workers – we have volunteered in our Church’s childrens ministry since before having children, I know that the volunteers love the children – we just decided that we felt that we would rather our children remain with us during worship time. It was shortly after this that we began hearing about family-integrated churches – and then we picked up Voddie’s book (Family Driven Faith) and then we heard him speak at a nearby curriculum fair…it was very comforting to us to realize that our convictions about our children remaining with us were not so far out there.
I realize that this may not be a choice that all parents will make but I do believe that God used our individual family dynamics to bring us to the decision to keep our children with us. All three of our children (ages 6,5, 4.5 & almost 2) attend worship with us. The older two participate in singing and prayer time and read or color quietly during the sermon. The almost two year old usually falls asleep – if he’s not quiet one of us takes him to the chuch foyer and listens to the sermon via headphones.
Blessings , Wendi
This has been a very interesting feed for me to follow as I’ve heard many opinions about it recently. I grew up in a church where the children participated in worship, announcements, communion, offering, etc. Then we were dismissed to Children’s church.
At the church we currently attend, the children never even enter the sanctuary with us! This has always bothered me because they never see the worship, and their dad is part of the worship team! There have also been some conflicts regarding the running of the children’s church. For example, they do not allow the children to take communion unless they have been baptized. This has led to baptism being regarded as a status symbol! Children are begging to be baptized, and my belief is that it’s because they don’t like being left out of communion.
I’ve considered having my daughter attend the service with us, but they have filled the children’s church with so much foosball, air hockey and coloring tables that she complains about being bored in church. There are also virtually no other parents who keep their children in the service, so it would lead to questioning as to why I took her out.
We have considered keeping her in with us every other week. Do you think this would be a good compromise or confusing to her? BTW, she’s 8.
Thanks for any advice, Faith :)
I think its a great idea to keep your daughter with you every other week to start. Maybe you could mention to her that you would love to have her in the worship service with you- so that you could worship together(with Daddy). Also, you could buy her a special coloring book just to color in during the sermon etc. You could let her sit on your lap while you stroke her hair and whisper “I love you”. Maybe you’ll find that she’ll enjoy being with you more than being in the children’s church. :) I can understand your mixed feeling about this. I would love to have a better answer for you but we too are seeking Gods will for our family concerning this issue. Does anyone else have anything to add?
Blessings to you!
We attend a church where the children are welcome and we know how blessed we are because we have attended church in the past where they were, well, not.
How we chose to handle these things over the years has been any mix of the following:
1. Just buck the system and keep them with us anyway (no one has actually asked us to leave – though there was a ‘reminder’ in the bulletin once about babies having a nursery provided when we were the only ones bringing our baby into the service!-that was pretty embarrassing. :/)
2. Teach the class they would be going to, or
3. See what the topic for the quarter is and then, if the child needs that teaching we send them or, if not, tell the leadership something like, “Oh, thanks, but we’ve already covered that in great detail; maybe next quarter.”
For slightly older ones, I have taken Edith Shaeffer’s idea in…in…oh, I can’t remember that book! Anyway, it was a wonderful idea of getting a composition book and ‘sketching’ the sermon for the children as they sit next to you. My children have loved this and, truth be told, I have gained more from many sermons because of it! Now, this takes help from Dad or an older sibling if you have tiny ones to tend to as well, but I highly recommend it. What IS the title of that book?!
As for youth groups; children will eventually find their own ‘youth group,’ but it will be with their like-minded friends and you will be with them because it will be within the context of home. That is not the church’s jurisdiction.
We teach from a very young age Psalm 16:6 – “The lines have fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.” When they can grasp that Dad and Mom are not out to ruin their social life, but that God has ordained the family they live in, they are much more able to come under that authority and rejoice in it. I love the way Elsie Dinsmore’s father said in one of the books that he would give her anything if it was good for her and within his power to provide it. And, as always, children are welcome to appeal to a higher authority. They can ask God to change their parent’s hearts on a matter.
As usual, I’ve been too preachy…sorry again, ladies, I am just so excited to see families eager to raise a godly seed for the Lord.
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