Some people feel like children are an unnecessary burden in the church. After all, they don't contribute financially (In fact, they cost a lot of money). They break and ruin things, and they can be very disruptive to services. For these reasons and more, some do not encourage much investment in children's ministries, but we believe that children are not just bodies, they are souls! If nothing else, we must introduce them to the Savior. Surveys show that over 90% of Christians accepted Christ before 18 years of age; over 80% before age 14.
Jesus, on Earth, certainly made them feel welcome. In Mark 10:13-16 we read about little children (infants according to Luke 18) that were brought to Jesus. The disciples initially rejected them, but Jesus rebuked the disciples and asked that the children be brought to Him. The Bible says He picked them up and blessed them. It is a shame that, in our day and age, we must avoid physical affection in general (with so many weirdos out there, I certainly wouldn't want just anyone picking up my children), but Jesus had no inhibitions about touching these children, and I'm sure he would equally love any dirty, smelly, snot-nosed child. And so should we. We know that God is concerned with the fatherless and the widows (Psalm 69:5), and He wants us to be as well (James 1:27).
Children today could really benefit from some good role models in their lives. It is said that 1 out of 3 children live in homes without their biological father. It is the father's responsibility to make sure their children are raised in the admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4), but unfortunately many fathers are not around. As a result, statistics show that many end up in jail or addicted to drugs and alcohol. The church needs to ministry to children. It is worth it! Think of it as more of a "long-term" investment. We not only need to "get them" we need to "keep them" as they will be our future church leaders.
2. We believe that children are under the authority of their parents.
Whereas we want to do the best we can to minster to children, we do not believe it is our job to take the place of a child's parents if they have parents. We believe we should keep parents thoroughly informed about every activity and every decision in which their child has been involved at church. We want to earn the respect and trust of children, but we should make it clear to them that we are on the "parents' side."
Along with this, we are not "babysitters." If at all possible, parents need to be involved, and It is not wrong to demand their involvement. For example, we have a policy that children who younger than 3 years old or who are not potty trained must have a parent present. This is not due to our lack of concern for the children or the parents. In fact, our nursery will provide the care that is needed for these children while their parents are in a service. However, the parent is the primary care provider, our ministry is to assist.
3. We believe that children should be provided a spiritually and physically safe environment.
Church should be a trusted place, but unfortunately it is increasingly not! Most parents (one would hope) would never knowingly put their children in dangerous situations. Many are well aware of this problem and understandably are hesitant to send or leave their children in our care. Others are ignorant of this, and trust churches, but they would be devastated if something happened. Many in our society have become desensitized to leaving their children in the care of others, yet churches are still held to a higher standard of expectations (and honestly, we should be).
In many cases, should a major incident happen, we can count on legal action being taken. Of course, this could shut down the church, or at least the children's ministry. Besides this, any accusations (true or false) could damage the church's reputation. Most importantly, we simply care about children and don't want to see them harmed in any way!
Obviously we don't want them harmed physically. For this reason, we should do all we can to prevent general accidents and injuries. We should also do all we can to prevent allergic reactions (particularly food allergies). And, of course, we should do all we can to prevent kidnapping or abuse (sexual, verbal, etc.) by predators; including other children, outside predators, and even unexpected adult predators within.)
Another area in which we want to protect our children, however, is from spiritual harm. We should do all we can to prevent the teaching of false doctrine. This could come from someone who would intentionally teach something contrary to what our church teaches), but it could come from ignorance or from inadequate teaching by those who lack proper training or are simply lazy and apathetic.
4. We believe that children do not "need" more entertainment.
Many assume children don't have anything to do. We often hear "These kids need more activities." The truth is, children will find entertainment (they turn boxes and empty water bottles into toys). Unfortunately, however, they will often find the wrong type of entertainment on their own. So, I like to say, "Kids don't need more things to do, they need better things to do."
For many churches today, youth actually seem to be the central focus of the church. It is very popular to have a youth-driven church. Young people bring excitement and vitality to an otherwise boring service. Many adults want to stay young, so they follow the trends of young people. But children are supposed to be learning and being trained. We should "put away childish things." If children don't learn how to become adults, eventually, adults will act like children (which indeed is seen in our society today, and even in our churches).
Of course, some seem to feel children shouldn't be entertained at all, but that is not biblical. Entertainment can be a wonderful thing, we just need to be sure our entertainment honors God (Colossians 3:17), that it does not cause others to stumble (1 Corinthians 8:7-9), and that it is shared with other believers (2 Corinthians 6:14). Too much of the entertainment our young people are seeking is with unbelieving , worldly influences.
Simply put, we cannot compete with the world's entertainment. Some would try to do that thinking that children won't come otherwise. Let's face it, adults enjoy the world's entertainment too! So why not provide more?
Well, the Bible clearly teaches that we should be separate from the world. It says "Come out from among them and be ye separate (2 Corinthians 6:17). God says "Be ye holy, for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:16) and "Love not the world..." (1 John 2:15). If we look and act like the world, we are either disobeying God or we are trying to deceive the children.
Making a clear distinction up front about our stand against worldliness will ensure children aren't only coming for the wrong reasons. Certainly , not every motive for attending church service is completely righteous ( even for adults), but the underlining reason we come to church should be to give God true worship and praise, and to receive from Him his Word. The Word of God is powerful and effective. It hasn't lost its power (Hebrews 4:12, Isaiah 55:8-11).