Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Inclusive Church

Remember this? " Since children's ministry is one of the most important things we do and the main service is designed for adults, children 6th grade and under are not permitted in the adult service. They will have a better experience and learn about God in a more appropriate manner in KidVenture. Check-in begins 20 minutes before each service."


What do we mean by inclusive church? Do we mean that people with physical or mental disabilities should play a full and equal part in the life of the faith community?
Of course they should; we should ensure we have hearing loops and can meet physical access requirements as well as access to spiritual counsel and encouragement. We have the Disability Discrimination Act to pay attention to; this is something we cannot ignore.

But what about the largest unreached people group in the world? They are found everywhere. Children. They make up 21% of the UK population (2001): that’s one-fifth of the population; yet they often get the least amount of the church’s time and resources. In some churches, their existence within the congregation makes no difference at all to any church meeting decisions, future plans or resource allocation. And yet this was the group of whom the Lord Jesus said: if you welcome one of these, you welcome me. (Luke 9:48)

How do we view children in our churches? Do we consider that the real worship begins when children leave us for their own groups? Or are we experimenting with a model of church where adults, children and young people are entirely separate at all times for their own worship and teaching? Most Baptist churches opt for the model of “in for 20 minutes of worship altogether including a children’s talk, then out for Sunday School/Bible Class”. Scottish Baptist Churches are ideally placed to foster inclusivity alongside legitimate separateness for age appropriate teaching. Gordon Wenham analysed the pattern of family life in the Pentateuch and described a large body of people: social order is demonstrated where everyone cares for the other and lives in harmony with the other, in larger units rather than as individual families. Could we not emulate this pattern of inclusivity? But mere existence, pew warming alongside one another, is not enough. Deliberate and sustained exhortation and encouragement to teaching those younger in the faith is absolutely necessary. The longer I serve in this particular pastoral role, the more I am convinced that the needs of new Christians and children are similar!

The academic Edesio Sanchez states that no other book in the Bible gives more teaching to children and young people as Deuteronomy . There are key principles in Deuteronomy for church leaders and families today as there are countless references to the people of God in the past, present and future along with the exhortation to “impress these commandments upon the children” (Deut 6:7). This was done communally as well as within the family. Did this change in the NT? Not as far as we know. People met in homes without Ikea-type soft play areas!

We cannot fulfil Deut 6:7 if we send children out as quickly as possible to their own groups to engage head-knowledge only with oft repeated stories. Inclusivity means providing opportunities for children, young people and lone parents to be discipled without having to go out at 7.30pm at night. True inclusivity will allow all ages and stages of people within the church to tell stories of God working in their lives to one another, to pray together, to celebrate together; to eat together.

I have posted this short article because I am increasingly concerned with the North American model of "entirely separate". I read a lot of children's ministry/church blogs in the USA and have had to exit the page as - each to their own etc - but I am reading many of them saying: "we are concerned about our ability to help parents", "we are concerned for whole family discipleship", "we are concerned about what happens when our children leave children's church". Hello? Why not have some crossover then?

I know I sound so intolerant and grumpy. Its only because I can see their dilemma....
I've been very encouraged this week by 3 reports from different sources about children who enjoy coming to church so much because they feel part. This is my heart's desire.

Useful links:-
1. check out cell church UK for helpful resources:
2. Generation to generation:
1. Family in the Bible (cited below) – for those interested in the theology behind family and community - R Hess and M Carroll (eds), Grand Rapids, Baker Books 2003.
2. Reconnecting the Generations by Daphne Kirk
3. Top Tips on Encouraging Faith to Grow (Scripture Union) ** a MUST HAVE and only £2.99

Sunday, March 21, 2010

You MUST buy this!

I listen to/read/audit/review a lot of kids ministry resources and I only buy if its something I can use extensively across two sites and many different age groups. Regular readers will know I don't rave and make "MUST BUY" comments about many items - but this is going to be one of them.

I recently came across Nick and Becky Drake and their new album "God is Here".

I love their vision (check out my tagged posts on children and worship or theology and children to see why)

The songs are amazing, with a wide variety of musical references (I am sure I noticed a Primal Scream Screamadelica influence in Track 4!) but most importantly for me, there is a real sense of the presence of God as you sing and dance. My kids are begging for this CD to go on every day. My most favourite track is the very powerful Track 11 - Father. It's simply beautiful for adults and children alike.
I've been saying thanks to God tonight for this couple and their vision, their theology (friends! friends!) for their brilliant talent as worship pastors who seek to bring inclusiveness to the church of Jesus.....

So, for a paltry £13 quid or so (which includes postage): please, please buy this CD. You won't regret it.

Click below to watch this:

Friday, March 05, 2010


Someone sent me this article.
Very interesting ...anyone would think there was something rising up in the nation.....

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Bit of Fun

I have put together two all age service on Sunday, the topic of which I cannot reveal here. In one of them a 1981 Graham Kendrick song will be used. Can you guess which one?

At the last count I had 38 social networking comments suggesting which one and at least two disturbed worship leaders aghast at the depth and breadth of Kendrick comments!

Suggestions/answers in the comments section, please :-)
What song could this children and families pastor be using for all age services THIS week?

Wednesday, March 03, 2010


Many, many thanks to Matt Glover for giving me permission to use this cartoon to close the recent series of posts (rants!) on the need for children to experience the things of God rather than just be told them.

I'm trying to make sure my own children and those under my pastoral care have these experiences (which in itself is easy to do, children love to experience the presence of God; they generally find it easy) but the challenge for me post-theology degree is to set these experiences in solid biblical foundations, using my understanding of doctrine and allowing kids to apply truth to a wide variety of contexts. We adults sometimes have narrow and subjective opinions on children's experiences.

I have been facing some situations recently that highlight again and again that there are scores of adults around (attending churches near you and me!) who can hardly believe that God would ever communicate with them personally, much less do anything kind for them.

I have appended a quote from Ivy Beckwith below and then I will be quiet!

“Generation Y is experience-oriented. These kids find meaning and value in immediacy and in living in the moment. Their mantra for life and learning is “I want to try it”. Only then will they decide if they like the experience or not. They’ve grown up with theme parks stimulating every imaginable experience and event and with virtual reality computer games that transport them into fantasies and scenarios they could never access in real life.

They want to use all their senses as they learn, and they want their learning environments to provide experiences, not just facts and formulas. They want to DO in order to learn. And when it comes to experiencing a spiritual life – and they are spiritual people – they want to experience God, not just learn about God. They don’t just want to be entertained".

Ivy Beckwith (2004)
Postmodern Children’s Ministry