Do My Kids Belong in Big Church Yet?

When should you start bringing your kids into “big” church? Or, should you ever bring your kids into “big” church?

This issue alone has been the cause of much church division in modern times. One of the books that has influenced me with regard to families worshipping together is entitled Let the Children Worship by Jason Helopoulous. This is where much of my opinion on the matter has come from, and I highly encourage you to read it!

As a father to four children, ages ranging from two to ten, I’ve wrestled with this question for many years; and I’ve concluded that the sooner my kids learn to sit with my wife and me in big service, the better. As a youth pastor, I also encourage the parents in our church to include their own kids in “big” church.

During this time I’ve found it important to clarify many times, many things. But, as G.K. Chesterton once wrote, “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.”

The most important clarification:

We stand in grace! If a pastor encourages kids to come to the main service, his emphasis is not a law, and his encouragement is not works. There is therefore now “no condemnation” for those who are in Christ Jesus.

When your pastor encourages families to attend worship service together:

  • It is NOT meant to discourage Sunday School attendance. Most churches have amazing Sunday School teachers and they don’t just “fill in” or “read curriculum.” They prayerfully study and prepare God’s word for children of the church!
  • It is NOT meant to make any families who are not currently worshiping together feel judged or condemned. You are in grace. Each child is different and each family’s needs are different. It is totally normal for young parents to question why they are even trying to attend to the weekly gathering when they only seem to walk around the halls with a toddler who can’t sit still, make it through service, or stay peacefully in the nursery. Church leaders want to help and serve you in this season, not discourage you! Also, remember it is a season, and it does go by fast. At my church, we know that we have a wide demographic of families from single parents to special needs, etc. This is why we seek to provide special needs classes and children’s nursery on Sunday morning. We want to provide respite to worn out parents so they can go and worship God in service.

Rather, when your pastor encourages families to attend worship service together:

  • It is meant to welcome your children as they are into the weekly gathering. Some believe that the weekly gathering is just for adults – NO! We want you to know that your kids are welcome NOW, not later when they don’t fidget or make noise or can make it through a service. However, if the thought of bringing your kid in to service with you overwhelms you, then for this season let your church serve you and watch your child or children for you! Take advantage of putting them in Sunday school while you attend the main service.
  • It is meant to show that while much of the “American Church” model is consumer-driven, from the Old Testament to the New Testament we see all the people of God gathered for worship, including kids. Your kids are welcome as they are!
  • It is meant to shepherd you towards a conviction. We want older members of the Body of Christ to enjoy the worship of God so much on Sunday morning that, at an age appropriate time, during their kids’ most formative years, they want their kids right next to them. We believe that over the long haul, having your children sit next to you as you joyfully sing praises to Jesus, take communion, and prayerfully respond to the Holy Spirit’s leading through the preaching of the Word will shape them in far greater ways than if they stayed out of the main worship gathering until they were older.

If you can’t fathom having your kid in service right now, don’t sweat it. It will come.

Welcome your kids to the gathering, let them know they are a blessing, not a burden, train them, enjoy the worship of God, and trust that one way or another he is shaping your family.


Joey Turner is a young husband and dad who is obeying the Spirit's prompting to evangelize and equip parents and students in Beavercreek, OH through the written Word. He is privileged to be married to his wife Jenny, with whom he has four amazing children. Joey serves as the Pastor of Student Ministries at Patterson Park Church in Beavercreek, OH.

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