by Linda McQuinn Carlblom
As a parent, grandparent, children's minister and author, my heart beats for kids. But things have changed a lot since I was a kid and even since my children were young. One of those changes is the way children are viewed in church.
Most churches offer a Jr. church option of some sort or at least provide packets of worksheets and puzzles for kids to do during church. I admit I'm conflicted about this. On the one hand, I know it makes it easier for parents to worship when the kids are occupied. And genuine learning can take place as kids do Bible puzzles and worksheets, especially if they must look up things in their Bibles to come up with the answers.
But is it the church's job to keep kids entertained? As a children's minister, one part of me says to do whatever it takes to keep the kids engaged and keep the parents bringing them. But another part says parents should provide whatever they deem necessary to keep their kids busy and quiet. Or instead of bringing quiet activities for the kids, should parents help kids stay engaged in the service by encouraging them to sing along with the congregation, sit and stand at the appropriate times, put money in the offering, and help them find the scriptures the pastor uses?
I don't have the answers to any of these questions. But I'm wondering where parents stand on this. What do you expect from your church in regard to your kids?
So parents, what's your take on this? When your kids are in church with you, as opposed to being in Jr. church, do you like the church to provide activity packs to keep them busy during the service? Or would you rather teach them to sit quietly and participate in grown-up church, bringing your own bag of tricks if necessary? Do you feel it's the church's job to provide quiet activities for your children? If none are provided, does it keep you from attending that church? Let me hear from you! And don't worry--there's no right or wrong answer and no judgment here!