Thursday, April 5, 2012

Children's Church

Picture of a church drawn by my 9-yr old son

My children regularly attended children's church.  Regretfully, my husband and I did not take note of what was being taught in children's church.  We trusted everything was fine because we trusted the leadership.  It was shocking to me when I discovered after 2 years and two months that my children had been studying the same passage of scripture the entire time we were there.  

My younger daughter was in junior high at the time and informed me that approximately 8 weeks was spent on the first two verses of Ephesians 1.  Take a look at this passage.  I'm trying to wrap my head around two months of teachings from these two verses alone.   How much can be extrapolated from these two simple verses?  How much needs to be extrapolated to elementary and junior high children?  
Ephesians 1:1-2  Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God,
To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus:   Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Those children must have been bored to tears.  And now come to think about it, we did hear of situations where children were having "discipline" issues.  Is it any wonder?  How can you have the same two verses being taught over and over and over again without being bored to tears?  There was one study on Reformation, but the rest of the 2 years was Ephesians 1:1-17.  By the time we left, they were studying Verse 17 of the same first chapter.  That's 17 verses in 2 years and 2 months period of time.  At that pace, let's see how much scripture they would have studied.  Yes, I actually spent the time doing the math, adding 17 passages of scripture and years to figure this out to show how ridiculous it is.

Eph 1:18 - 2:11       4 yrs 4 months
Eph 2:12 - 3:7         6 yrs 6 months
Eph 3:8 - 4:3           8 yrs 8 mo
Eph 4:4 - 4:20         10 yrs 10 mo
Eph 4:21 - 5:5         13 yrs
Eph 5:6 - 5:22         15 yrs 2 months
Eph 5:23 - 6:6         17 yrs 4 months
Eph 6:7 -   6:23       19 yrs 6 months 

It would have taken 19 yrs and 6 months to get to Ephesians 6:23 and there is still one remaining verse: vs. 24.  It really makes me sick that we allowed our children to be subjected to this kind of teaching.  

Oh - - and not surprising, some of our kids do not even have the book of Ephesians in their Bibles anymore.   The Ephesians section was so worn, they fell out of the Bible.  Interestingly, we've heard the same story from other parents.  

Beaverton Grace Bible Church's mottos is this:  "Our Motto is the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible!", I'm wondering really how much of the "whole" Bible is taught, because it certainly wasn't happening in children's church.  

To that, I would like to ask:  The "whole" Bible?  Really?  At what age will they be?  897 yrs?  Alrighty then.

There will be more to come on this topic regarding regular Sunday services.  Stay tuned.  


  1. I read this post to my kids and they laughed because it is spot on. Ephesians is, indeed, missing from my daughters bible.

  2. I'm laughing at "Alrighty then". Love it. Needed a good dose of humor about this whole thing. I can't remember how many Sundays were spent on Romans 12...was it 3? It's terrible! I don't even remember! It's a pretty short verse though - I do remember that. After reading the last few blog posts, I can see more and more how the Hand of God led us out of there before our children were beyond the nursery. We have a delightfully curious, intelligent, ACTIVE, outspoken little boy, who undoubtedly would have been getting into "trouble" and having his spirit broken. God was good to us!

    I'm also wondering about the motto "...nothing but the Bible." Can someone say for sure - as I was never in Children's church or children's Sunday School myself - weren't they doing a study based on Pilgrim's Progress? Which would be...not the Bible? I am interested in people's knowledge of/experience with this and how it fit with the "nothing but the Bible" aspect of the motto.

    1. I definitely remember lingering a long time with vs 9: Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Not sure if that's the one you are thinking of.

      Good question about Pilgrim's Progress. I'd be curious, too. I like Pilgrim's Progress, but it does seem to conflict with their motto.

    2. Yes, it was 9. He never finished it before we left. We started seeing that in itself as a red flag.

  3. The Pilgrim's Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come is a Christian allegory written by John Bunyan and published in February, 1678. It is regarded as one of the most significant works of religious English literature,[1]Courtesy Wiki....As you read this book, John B. based it on soooo much scripture that you can read the story and then explain from the Bible what it means to the Children. We use it at our home as a supplementary teaching for our Children. They love the story and it helps us explain scripture to them. Nit Picking a Churhes "Motto" is really going quite far, don't you think?? It's just a saying. Who goes to a church because of a motto.
    Also Didn't Pastor MacArthur Spend 40+ years of his ministry in just the 4 Gospels. If i remember right he said he spent 10+ years in Luke and then when right into the book of Mark. He was worried what his congregation would think after doing that but they were all excited about it. Another Pastor said one time that he wants him (John)to go back through the book of John again. So I guess you wouldn't want to be at Grace Church since they don't go to Fast through the Bible either.

    1. You raise some great points and I appreciate your comments.

      We love Pilgrim's Progress. We have several book versions of it, videos and even audio. Allegories are great tools to use with children to help them understand concepts. I think the above commenter raised a valid issue, though, that if the emphasis in the motto is the "whole" Bible and "nothing but" the Bible, then maybe something is amiss.

      Chuck gave me that argument about John MacArthur, too. But again, if your motto is the "whole" Bible, please tell me how old our children would be before they got the "whole" Bible. I wonder if Grace Community uses that motto.

      And let's be for real, 8 wks on the 1st two verses which were simply a greeting? Come on, now! Is that time well spent?

    2. I listen to John MacArthur on a daily basis. He goes into great detail regarding the history and context of a passage and each sermon usually ends with a beautiful appeal to the lost to be reconciled to Christ. Not so with Chuck O'Neal's sermons. He talks excessivily about how the sheep are NOT OBEYING the law. Go listen again to a few of his sermons....if you can stand it.

    3. Anon #2: Agreed. There was so much emphasis on sin and disobeying, but so little on gently guiding one back to Christ and restoring relationship with Him and resulting joy.

    4. I did not say Pilgrim's Progress was a bad book, nor did I say it should not be used. I was simply asking if they had in fact used it in Children's church or Sunday School - and how this lined up with the motto.

      I do put quite a bit of emphasis on what the motto of a church is. If I am reading about a church and the emphasis of the motto is "seeker sensitive" or seems over psychologized, I would avoid it. Just a personal preference, not necessarily a guideline that everyone else must live by.

      I think you, Anonymous #1 have made some assumptions about me, and others on this blog, based on isolated comments - and your assumptions are not correct, in my case. You're right. I wouldn't attend John MacArthur's church. It has nothing to do with the speed at which he preaches through the Bible. I firmly believe him to be wrong on certain doctrinal issues (which I will not discuss at length in this blog because this is not my personal blog and it is not the place for such a discussion, so please do not ask). For you to make snide-sounding assumptions about why a person would or would not attend a church is uncalled for. And really, can we hold any man, even John MacArthur, as good of a preacher as he is - can we hold any man up as an example and say "Look, I'm doing it because he did!"? No, we need to be saying "I'm doing this because it is God's will for me." Another person's name need not enter into our arguments for why what we do is right and good.

    5. Boy, it's getting hard to distinguish all of the anonymous posts. I will refer to Anon and the time from here on out.

      Anon 2:32 I agree so much with the last part of your post:

      "And really, can we hold any man, even John MacArthur, as good of a preacher as he is - can we hold any man up as an example and say "Look, I'm doing it because he did!"? No, we need to be saying "I'm doing this because it is God's will for me." Another person's name need not enter into our arguments for why what we do is right and good."

      When we lose sight of Christ and put our eyes on man, we are destined for failure.

  4. We too were out of there before our children were beyond the nursery. But what about the "nursery"? Small children can learn about God. I constantly wished for some lesson to be taught to the little ones while we were being yelled at. No lesson plan could meet with Chuck's approval so the kids were left to play. And play what? Doctor, of all things! They keep children who are too young for adult sermons shut away so they won't disturb the adults, but refuse to fill the vacuum with anything valuable.

    1. You know, you are right. I do remember some sweet ladies and young ladies singing to the children or reading some kiddie books, but you are right, there was nothing planned for our very young children.

    2. I visited a church in our area a few years ago that the 0-3 kids just played with toys. My son Hated it because you had to hand him over a check in desk and were not allowed in there unless you were nursing a baby. He cried everytime. Needless to say we stopped going to that church just because it was to hard on my son. Then we visited Family Integrated Churches that they have no Childrens programs at all. All kids sit in service with you at all times. My son's did horrible in this church because they just have too much energy to sit still for that long of a service. Another Church we visited the Teenage program consisted of watching videos and a small talk to the kids and the room had couches, vending machines and fooze ball tables...Talk about just going to be entertained there. It is sooooooo hard to find a church with the "perfect" kids programs for all ages.

    3. There is no "perfect" church or children's program but we must keep our eyes out for a true shepherd. A true shepherd does not sue former attenders, is not living in a pattern of unrepentant pride, or cause division in the body of Christ by having people shun one another. What happened to our children is only a symptom of much deeper problems. Just watch the children as they grow into young adults. Do they love Christ and His church or are they falling away?

    4. It's interesting how our "how to find a church" list has changed over the years (we've gone to many churches in our nearly 27 yrs of marriage due to job changes and military moves). Youth groups, type of praise music, which Bible translations used, extra programs, etc - some of these topics used to raise our dander.

      Now we're looking at the health of the church. Are there mixed ages of people? Are people growing in the Lord? Is there a decent balance of truth and grace when dealing with sin? Is the pastor a shepherd and truly cares for his flock? Is their focus on the pastor or Christ? Balance seems to be a key word in so many areas. When there are extremes, you can run into problems. There will be evidence of good fruit in a healthy church.


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