OceanSide church of Christ
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Victor M. Eskew
Children’s Church. Just the name sounds right. Who would object to Children’s Church? The concept itself seems so innocent. Children are small. Their attention spans are short. They do not understand adult subject matter. They can be disruptive in worship services from time to time. It seems “wise” to separate them from the adults and provide them with their own hour of age-appropriate worship. This will, in turn, free the parents to get something out of “their” worship services. This is so innocent. Surely, no one will find fault.
The picture painted in the above paragraph is what makes Children’s Church so controversial. Individuals want what they believe to be good for children and adults in Children’s Church. What they fail to do is: 1) Question whether the practice is Scriptural, that is, authorized by God, 2) Examine whether it helps or hurts the spiritual growth of a child, and 3) See the deception of Satan in this seemingly honest work.
Satan has always been the master of deception. He wants what is wrong to look good. The fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden was not ugly. Its effects did not seem to be harmful. It was the deception that caused Eve to partake. “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Gen. 3:6). Just because something looks good does not mean that it is good and right. Could Children’s Church be a deception of Satan? Could it be something that is unlawful that Satan has disguised and made to look tempting?
Let’s ask the question: “Does Children’s Church actually help children to learn how to worship God at a later age?” There is no study that exists that proves this to be the case. Children at the age of 13 who never attended Children’s Church worship just as well as those who went to Children’s Church. In fact, some believe that Children’s Church is detrimental to the 13-year old who is introduced to the corporate worship for the first time. The child has to learn how to behave in a totally different environment. His emotions and behaviors have to radically change in order to adjust to an adult environment. At first, he experiences grief at the loss of the experiences of Children’s Church. The child who never went to Children’s Church has no such adjustments. He/she appreciates the worship experience. He comes prepared to engage with the adults in worship. He is an active participant, not a new learner.
The real issue about Children’s Church involves Bible authority. Is Children’s Church something that God has authorized? If He has not, it should never be practiced regardless of the good that anyone sees in it. In Colossians 3:17, Paul states: “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” All that we do must be done “in the name of the Lord Jesus.” This means that what we do must be done by His authority. Does authority exist for Children’s Church?
This writer sees no Bible authority at all for Children’s Church. Is there a definite command in the Bible for Children’s Church to be conducted? No. Is there an approved example of Children’s Church in the Bible? No. Is there any passage of Scripture that infers the need for Children’s Church? No. The negative answers to these three questions prove that no Bible authority exists for Children’s Church.
Some will say that Children’s Church is an optional matter. They believe that it falls into the same category as circumcision. In Galatians 6:15, we read: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.” Circumcision is not authorized by God in the New Testament. A person can be circumcised or remain uncircumcised and be acceptable to God. It is a matter of option. In optional matters, there is liberty. Does Children’s Church fall into this category? We do not believe that it is.
In the book of I Corinthians, we are given a look into the worship assembly of the first century church. We see a church that came together to partake the Lord’s Supper (I Cor. 11:26-29). They also gathered to hear the Word of God proclaimed (I Cor. 14:23-25). In addition, the church prayed and sang psalms (I Cor. 14:15) and gave an offering to the Lord (I Cor. 16:1-2). When these things were done, the whole church came together. There is no hint that the children were removed from the assembly. This assembly required all members of the church to come together in one place (I Cor. 11:17, 18, 20,; 14:4, 12, 23, 26, 28, 34). This was an assembly that was not to be forsaken by anyone (Heb. 10:25). My friend, it is not possible to assembly and divide. It is not possible to come together, yet several be absent from the assembly in a joint-service for children. It is not possible to engage in all the acts of worship in an assembly where all the acts of worship are not practiced (Note: Children’s Church does not partake of the Lord’s Supper). Because the church is required to assemble together, this is not an optional matter.
Children’s Church is a fabrication of the mind of man. It is not a practice found in the Word of God. It is a practice that was developed for convenience. It is not a practice that originated out of faith. It is a practice that divides the people of God instead of uniting them in the worship of God. It is a practice that keeps families from worshipping together on the Lord’s Day. Some will think that we are making a big deal out of nothing. Those who think this need to seriously consider the account of Nabad and Abihu in Leviticus 10:1-2.