The Four Most Popular Posts: 2014

Tops Post of 2014I am very thankful for the support that Mission PS: 78 has received over the past year. I have greatly enjoyed interacting with followers of this blog both via comments and personal conversations.  Below, I have listed the 4 most discussed blogs of 2014.  I look forward to the discussions that 2015 will bring our way! To God be the glory! Happy New Year!

4 – What Are We Choosing

child_and_optical_glasses_208523During the predawn hours of July 16, 2013 our hearts were gripped with fright. We had learned that our precious, first born son would be entering the world at 23 weeks with only a 50/50 chance of survival.  Even if Second Peter developed a strong heartbeat and exhaled air through his lungs, we still faced the daunting task of raising a child with several physical and mental deficiencies. As the minutes leading up to our first child’s birth ticked quickly away, we listened to two different doctors as they encouraged us to allow our son to expire upon his arrival. But with barely a blink, my wife and I both knew what our course of action would be. We would fight for our son’s life.

3 – Did Noah Drown

Did Noah DrownDuring the first five minutes of Noah, I was pleasantly intrigued. I had was not making plans to write the following review. I knew going into the theatre that the marriage of Biblical narrative and Hollywood cinematography often leaves our scriptures a little worse for the wear. And, I was willing to give the creators some creative grace when it came to dressing the characters in 1860’s work clothes. Sadly though, the creators of this film did not stop with recreating the historical setting of the story.

2 – Should Kids Go To Big Church

should kids go to churchDo kids belong in church? It’s a simple, straight forward question that has existed even before the first church was launched at Pentecost.   Remember back to Mathew 19. Jesus had to tell his disciples to, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (vs. 14).  Speed forward a couple of thousand years and we find the evangelical church once again asking, “do children belong in church today?” Do they belong in our sanctuaries and services? Sadly, many evangelicals say, “No.”

1 – Caring For Those in Crisis past Friday, the Mayberry folksiness of Eastman was jolted by the depths of evil. The story of how three-year-old Zack was cruelly beaten to death has brought sadness to most every home in the area. And now as his family and the community grapple with the tragic death of this beloved toddler, the questions of “Why,” “How,” and “What now” begin to fill our brains. We want to know, “Where was God” on Friday, March 14, 2014.

Why is Children’s Church Good?

Why is Children's Church GoodThe idea of children being blessed by the church is firmly rooted in scripture.  In Mark 10:13-15, Jesus welcomed the little children into his arms and blessed them. Christ’s message is clear: kids belong in church just as much as adults.

The Goal of Church

Although our children cannot physically interact with Jesus today, our kids can be introduced to his message, his character, and his very essence through the preaching of the word. This is the main benefit offered to kids with Christian parents: the preaching of the gospel of the glory of God! And while a child does not have to her forehead sprinkled or be dedicated to listen, she does have to be within earshot. For this reason, I believe welcoming children into church is a necessary, good, and blessed activity that all churches should pursue.

One Gospel For All

Now some may counter that kids learn differently today. Because of YouTube, twitter, and video games, they say kids need more music, more freedom, or perhaps they actually need more structure. Who knows? Regardless, many a good church is looking for ways to help their kids bounce out of the sanctuary. And while it’s true that kids are definitely more energetic than your average Baptist, it’s also true that there is one gospel and one name under heaven by which all men and women, and children get saved. As Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones once said, “There is no greater fallacy than to think that you need a gospel for special types of people.” Our kids don’t need the gospel message repackaged. They just need the gospel!

The Issue For Our Families

However with that said, I also recognize that many of the cute, smiling kids who accompany their parents are unredeemed. Others are unsettled because they have different parental rules every other weekend. And some simply lack the self-control needed to sit through a service for a variety of reasons. Our goal as a congregation cannot be to force children into our nicely sculpted programs. If we ask kids to sit through an hour service when they can’t sit still for more than 5 minute, we will frustrate them and their parents. Regardless of how valid our theology is, we will have failed to lovingly disciple these families seeking the community of Christ.

The church should always be a place where truth is infused with love and compassion. Although we need to encourage our preaching pastors to preach with children in mind and discourage our church members from scowling each time a child rustles some paper, we also need to be prepared to care for families the moment they enter our doors.  The church should help kids and parents prepare for corporate worship. I think there is a need for nurseries and for children’s churches. By having limited kids’ programing during the main service, we can more effectively minister to our own church family and better welcome visitors.

Our Response

kids churchIn American culture, most kids learn how to sit through school by first grade. Consequently by 1st grade, we think most kids possess the social and mental skills needed to attend church with their family. But until that time, we hope to structure our nursery programs and more specifically our children’s church to help prepare kids to excitedly join their families in worship. FBCE’S children’s church program will follow our churches order of worship. We will have offerings, prayer, singing, and teaching. And then at the end of the year, our children’s church will climax with the graduation of our rising first graders to church. Children’s Church exists not to provide an alternative to “Big Church” but to encourage our parents and to help our kids experience the beauty of the preached word.

Admittedly, no program can fully prepare a kid to obediently sit through a service. Only the redeemed will love the things of God. So parents, we will all have a few rough days. That’s ok. Don’t get discouraged or think you have failed as a parent. God’s word powerfully changes hearts. As long as our kids are exposed to the word, we have hope!

Should Kids Go To Big Church

Do We Really Want Kids In Church?

Do kids belong in church? It’s a simple, straight forward question that has existed even before the first church was launched at Pentecost.   Remember back to Mathew 19. Jesus had to tell his disciples to, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (vs. 14).  Speed forward a couple of thousand years and we find the evangelical church once again asking, “do children belong in church today?” Do they belong in our sanctuaries and services? Sadly, many evangelicals say, “No.”

should kids go to churchNow there are some pockets of old fogies who all but recite the disciples’ mantra. They diligently strive to keep those “darn” kids in the colorfully painted rooms in the basement through ugly looks and cruel comments. Most  of these people have no clue about what the four gospels teach. They happily go on church sponsored sightseeing trips, unaware that Christ welcomed children and rejected the self-righteous who boasted in their fat wallets and moralistic programs (Mathew 19:13-23).

 But the majority of Bible believing Christians who devalue kids are actually well meaning adults found swirling around the children’s department. Their catchphrases go something like this, “I can’t come to church if I have to watch my child; children’s ministry should be about giving parents a well-deserved break; children really need activities they can handle; big church is well, big church.” Once these phrases become a church’s ministry philosophy, the congregation will most likely cease to be a place where families come together to experience the community of Christ through worship and fellowship. Although we may have given the kids their own snazzy wing of the church, we have restricted their access to community of Christ.

Being smart, our children quickly pickup on the messages we are sending. They understand that big church is not for them. If anything, they know that they are a bother or hindrance to the rest of the church community.  Most of our kids will reconcile themselves to the idea the church consists of nothing more than eating crackers, drinking apple juice, and playing a few cool games. The glories of communing with the people of God is just not reality. Not surprisingly, the children who regularly attended all these cool kid based programs are the most likely to leave the church when grown (Ham, Beemer, & Hillard, p. 38).

To reach the next generation for Christ, we as parents need to once again embrace a church paradigm that welcomes children into the body of Christ. Regardless of how gifted a Sunday school teacher is or how loving a nursery worker is, parents are called by God to connect their children to the church. So how do we do this?

Five Ways To Get Ready Kids For Church


1. We worship at home.

I suspect that many children stress their parents out at church because they’ve never encountered formal Bible teaching at home.  We cannot and should not expect our children to calmly sit through a sermon if they have never learned how to handle a five minute devotion. Such expectations are unfair. Naturally, parents often try to compensate by handing off their child to church volunteers. At the very least, parents think they’ve kept their child from disrupting the service and they hopeful junior even learn a thing or two about the Bible. Let’s not abdicate our calling. Its hard, but discipling our children at home is essential to our kids spiritual well being. Let’s help them see that God is hugely important and worthy of respect and attention (Duet. 6)

2. Pray with our children.

Ask God to give them us patience. Ask God to give our kids a love for his word and his people. Ask God to give you wisdom to reach your children with the gospel.

3. Be in involved with your kids at church.

Find opportunities to serve with and around your child. Teach a Sunday school class, be a substitute, or sit in and see what they are learning. Be excited when you drop them off and be excited to pick them up. Ask them about what they learned in Sunday school.

4. Bring church home.

Before you go into the service tell your kids that you expect them to tell you two things that they have learned. Have realistic expectations. Do not expect your 5-year-old to be able to list all of the pastor’s five points. But your child should be able to tell you if the sermon was about Jesus or Moses. And then talk about the sermon after church. Help your children find ways to apply the sermon to their hearts. Pray through your pastor’s application points, asking God to make your family more like Christ. 

5. Be loving.

Children will make mistakes and will at times be a distraction. Instead of giving the mother with a crying baby a dirty look and pointing them to the nursery, lovingly smile and offer to help the young mother. And remember when we see children squirming in the seats, it’s possible they find our church services boring because we have made them boring. As the Charles Spurgeon noticed, “when children are not quiet in a meeting, it is often as much as our fault as theirs” (2011, p. 132). Let’s be sure to get the log out of our own eye before we make a big deal about the speck in the eye of the child sitting next to us. Let’s make sure our services represent that awesome glory of Christ. God is not lame and our services should not be lame.  Let’s resolve to be like Christ and welcome children into the churches!

Don’t Give Up!

The best place for children to learn about God is at the feet of their parents. As parents, we alone have the ability to connect church life into the home, reinforcing the lessons learned through discipline, prayer, and conversations all week long. We alone have the power to create a family culture with God at the center. If we punt our responsibility to connect children to Christ, we will teach our children to value personal comfort more than the commands of God. Raising a family is hard work. My four siblings and I definitely put my parents through the ringer at times. My son often causes me to wonder, “What am I doing?” And, I’ve seen the tired looks on the faces of moms as the walk into our church. But, we can do it! Another generation for Christ can be reached. Your sowing will not be in vain! “The one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Gal 6:8b-9).

Works Cited

Ham, K., Beemer, B., & Hillard, T. (2012). Already Gone: Why Your Kids Will Quit Church and What you can do to Stop it. Green Forest: Master Books .

Spurgeon, C. (2011). Lectures To My Students. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers.