Church

Last week I heard someone who joined our church less than a year ago say, “I want my daughter to grow up in a church that loves her and that helps me love her.” Head nods all around.

As I drove home, though, the “how” of that statement started to pester me. How do churches love children?

[this is not a post about boundaries and appropriate adult/child relationships. I’m assuming those things]

[this is also not the post about how Christians in churches love one another in general]

I have a stake in this question because my daughter is being raised in a church, and I, too, want her to know the church’s love. I have no doubt the church loves her–and all its children–and I think I can identify a couple of ways that love is manifested.

There’s a space for children in worship. The front pew of our sanctuary is a squirrely bench of pink dresses and plastic dinosaurs. There’s a Children’s Time in which they’re invited to sit and simply listen (I had a seminary professor who put the fear of God into me about turning the Children’s Time into anything that elicited a laugh from the congregation).

The church employs no fewer than four people whose job is at least in part to teach or care for children (this is to say nothing of the preschool the church operates).

We run programs just for children: VBS. Camp. A Christmas pageant.

No doubt our church loves children.

Programatically at least. I wonder how many worshipers on Sunday morning who don’t have kids could name even two or three of the children making a ruckus there in the front pew. Should they?

Doesn’t the church’s love of children require it to know those children? Shouldn’t we be doing some things to introduce children to the congregation: their names? Their interests? Their favorites? Their parents?

Or am I overthinking this?

How do churches love children anyway?

[update: here’s a good way Theresa Cho has found to help her church love children]

[update 2: Here’s another great seasonal list of ways churches grow in their love of kids]

How Do Churches Love Children?

Aside

7 thoughts on “How Do Churches Love Children?

  1. The last point you make is the most important Rocky. I grew up in a church where the adults knew the children, talked to them and followed them after they grew up. It probably had something to do with being in a farming community. I just ran into one of the last ones who is still alive at Walmart this week and she was more than delighted to see me. J. Clayton

  2. Matt Schultz says:

    Have you ever heard of Dunbar’s Number? It’s essentially the human limit of number of relationships we can sustain. It’s about 150.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunbar's_number
    I wonder this about churches in general. In a church off 150, how many people can you actually love? You have to subtract people for your own family and friends and neighbors and coworkers.

  3. You’re not over-thinking this.This is exactly the right question. The same goes for youth. Lots of churches love youth in a programmatic way, but don’t take the time to get to know their youth in a broad based relational way. This is exactly the kind of shift I’m trying to make in our church. Helpful to hear it articulated with regard to children.

    • Here’s an idea for you, then, Johnny Vest: confirmation as a 9 month intergenerational cohort that meets monthly for table fellowship, study, and sharing. Confirmands have an adult partner in the cohort…

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