“Have you met my kids? My 8 year-old is training for a marathon, my 5th grader just open their second lemonade franchise, and the baby has been driving the family four-wheelers since she was 3. (Just wait to you meet some of the homeschool families at our church.) You really don’t think my kids can be trusted to walk the twenty yards from their Sunday school class room to the sanctuary?”
Ok, so maybe the above is a little bit of a stretch, but parents with responsible kids legitimately wonder why their kids have to follow the rules their church adopted to keep those water balloon throwing hooligans under control. The answer is simple. We live in a fallen world. Below our three reasons all kids need to be protected
Good Kids Make Bad Choices
We have to need rules because even the most responsible kids sin. A few weeks ago, I mentioned that our churches need rules in-part to keep godly men and women from temptation. In the same manner, we create rules that prevent kids from being unnecessarily tempted. Now, I am not talking about getting rid of game time or of throwing away the crayons because kids fight. If anything those fights provide our adults leaders with an opportunity to preach the gospel. One kid’s sin does not necessitate we change our kids program. But, we should actively seek to curb temptations that place our kid’s lives in danger. And though only a few kids would ever think of secretly escaping to McDonalds after Sunday school, some do; even some of the “good” kids have these thoughts.
True story: several years ago, a usually compliant 8 year-old gal with a kind disposition asked to go the restroom. As usual, she was granted permission to make to short walk from the gym to the lobby. About 15 minutes later, she was caught happily waltzing back into church with a newly minted soda in hand. Turns out, she had skipped the restrooms all together. Instead, she walked past the tree line and into our local Walmart to purchase her caffeine fix for the day.
Ultimately, neither you nor I can fully know what’s in our kid’s hearts or what they are capable of doing (even while at church). And as I learned from the Walmart run, no kid is above making really bad choices. The church that loves kids establishes rules prevent kids from being reckless.
No Kid Is Out Of Evil’s Reach
Second, we need check-in and check-out guidelines because others are watching. Kidnappers can and do target churches. A kid can be swept up in an instant. Even the “responsible” kid who never varies from her parents’ directions could quickly be snatched away by someone with evil intent if left unattended. And if we let a kid wonder off by himself, we are inviting trouble upon trouble. He could be kidnapped (not to mention getting hit by a car) before we snap our fingers. Because we have no clue where said kid is, we will be slow to access and respond to the situation. By only allowing kids to leave a classroom with a parent, our churches greatly discourage predators (don’t forget ex-spouses) from gaining access to our kids. It’s very hard to snatch or hurt a child who is under constant observation. Churches establish rules not because of your kid, but because of those who could harm your kid.
Favoritism Impedes The Gospel
Lastly, we want to avoid the appearance of playing favorites. If we allow certain kids to break the rules, we will give the appearance of playing favorites (And it’s quite possible that we are showing favoritism). In today’s racially and socially charged world, we don’t want to do anything that would cause a visitor to think we value wealth or certain races more than others. “Oh the white kid hoping into the BMW got to leave early, but you want me to so my ID card?”
But even more important than today’s social climate is the scriptural mandate to avoid favoritism.
Indeed, if you keep the royal law prescribed in the Scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing well. But if you show favoritism, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors (James 2:8-9).
As Christians, we must put forth every effort to love all equally. The pastors’ kids who know their church’s campus backwards and forwards should be held to the same standard as the most lost visitor. To be loving churches, we have to diligently protect every child without exception.