We have been having an internal debate/ discussion with our staff here at Grace. The conversations have centered around do we create a policy that says children over the age of say 6 months and under the age of 7th grade are not to be in our sanctuary during our services. I know the initial reaction to that can be come on, it’s a church. How can you tell parents what to do? Is it really that big of a deal. I can tell you that as the person who is the primary communicator at our church, it is distracting and sometimes even frustrating when kids (again we are not talking junior high or senior high students, but rather grade school and below) are in our services. But my (and our) concerns and conversations have centered around some other important pieces that are much less selfish in nature. Here are some of the threads in our conversation:
- Parents get less out of the service because they are forced to pass out sippy cups and fruit snacks. As they are attempting to keep little Johnny quiet, they are not able to focus on what is being presented and shared.
- There are topics, words and thoughts that we are communicating in our morning service environment that are not appropriate for children. We feel we need to talk about certain stuff and when we do a kid may hear things mom and dad wish he or she did not hear yet.
- We work really hard to create engaging and relevant environments for kids. The spaces for kids are safe. Our volunteers are prepared. They are teaching kids great stuff. The kids will have fun.
- I get concerned for guests and other adults who are forced to have their experience hindered because of the children around them. When the kid two seats down is constantly complaining things are taking too long, it affects seated around him or her.
- Kids can end up having a negative view of church and the Bible because they are being forced to sit through a teaching and an environment over their head. We would not put a 4th grader in chemistry class and expect them to sit through it patiently.
As you can see, I have thought about this quite a bit. At the end of the day, whatever choice we make, it will be a tough call.