Monday, March 29, 2010

An Auditorium Amber Alert!

Truly, in most churches today, there could be issued an Auditorium Amber Alert! Who exactly is missing? Well, basically all children. Who has taken them? No one really; the parents have handed them over to nursery workers, jr. church workers, Awana workers, Sunday School teachers, etc. They can be found many places: roaming halls, in the fellowship hall in jr. church, in the gym playing dodge ball, making a craft in the Sunday School room...but this we know, they are not in the auditorium.
When did this all begin? Best I can find, nurseries began with Billy Sunday and his campaigns held in his tabernacles. We can read
Crowd noise, especially coughing and crying babies, was a significant impediment to Sunday's preaching because the wooden tabernacles were so acoustically live. During his preliminaries, Rodeheaver often instructed audiences about how to muffle their coughs. Nurseries were always provided, infants forbidden, and Sunday sometimes appeared rude in his haste to rid the hall of noisy children who had slipped through the ushers

Again, as noted before, due to the 'conversion success' that men like Sunday saw, Baptist began to adopt their 'unBaptist' ways into their churches. The "Jr. Church" began in 1929 with John Higgins, an Episcopalian, as an experiment to separate children into their own age groups and attempt to reach them on their level. We have more children's ministries than ever before, yet, we are losing our children at a faster rate than ever before. Why is this?
The typical child that rides the bus does not know the pastor, hear the pastor, or many times even know what he looks like. They know their bus captain, their Sunday School teacher, and their jr. church leader, but not the pastor. Please we praise the Lord for those who will serve the Lord in these capacities. Their desires for the young people are pure and admirable; yet we cannot get away from Scripture that the Lord has 'set the members' has 'given pastors' for the perfecting of the saints...that includes the young ones too.
Instead, our children get a steady diet of "Father Abraham," "the twizzler game," and quiet seats galore! They get a steady diet of 52 sermons on simple salvation every year for 7 years, then upon entering the teen class feel the sudden need to be a 'jr. church worker' because they just don't feel comfortable in the auditorium.
So, we look to Scripture. Let us examine children's ministries in God's Word....still looking....still looking....none to be found. Instead we read:13And all Judah stood before the LORD, with their little ones, their wives, and their children. Then upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, came the Spirit of the LORD in the midst of the congregation; And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's. 2 Chron. 20

There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them. Joshua 8:35

When all Israel is come to appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing.
Gather the people together, men and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law: Deut. 31:11-12

Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there assembled unto him out of Israel a very great congregation of men and women and children: for the people wept very sore. Ezra 10:1

In the New Testament, children were brought to Jesus and He welcomed them in His presence.
Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Mark 10:14

The New Testament Epistles were written to local churches and it was expected that the children would be in the congregation listening to the letters read aloud.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Eph. 6:1

Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Col. 3:20

My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 1 John 2:1

Point is, they weren't in jr. church, teen class, kid's club, or anyplace else...they were sitting in the service. Rather than being surrounded by a majority of children their age, learning their traits (most bad), they, in the early church, were sitting in the congregation where the majority were adults who were matured in the Lord, who showed a love for the Word of God, who showed them what the Christian life was truly about.
I just can't help but believe that if we went back to doing things God's way, things would go so much better. It seems like these last few years Independent Baptist and Evangelicalism has been inundated with books dealing with the issue of why we are losing our children. From Ken Ham, to First Baptist of Hammond, to David Cloud, Terry even myself and Pastor Carr; we have studied and shared why we believe we are losing our children to the world. Perhaps we need only to look at ourselves. Perhaps if we brought our children to church with us, sat under the same preaching, discussed how God is working and speaking to our lives, and spent more time together as a family and less time separate with peers-our children might not depart when they are old. Perhaps if we kept them in an atmosphere conducive to maturity and less ones 'on their level,' our children "may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:".
Doesn't it seem ironic that the services where the 'Lord really moved,' are the services where the families are all together?
We could issue our auditorium amber alert-for our children are indeed missing. Sadly, most after aging 18 years, continue to be missing.


Grammy Blick said...

Christian adults in the congregation need to step up as examples. Prepare their children for remaining quiet and attentive in a worship service. Too quickly children are allowed to set with their friends, losing all attention that should be applied to the pulpit. For congregations with bus ministries, it does little good to bring children in without a discipling program, not just a salvation program. Christian adults need to teach them respect for the sanctuary. The examples shown currently appear to be lacking. But -- attendance and baptistmal records look pretty good.

Anonymous said...

Outstanding article, a subject and practice we are applying to our church.

Thanks for the insight.

Andrew T.