Monday, August 3, 2015

Surprising Benefits of Family-Integrated Church: It Pushes Adults to Maturity

We've been doing family-integrated church now for a few years, and one of the things I've noticed is that it pushes adults to maturity.  That's right.  The primary reason for family-integration is to more effectively disciple the next generation, but what I didn't expect is that it would also help us more effectively disciple adults.  Here's why:  When there's a child in the room, adults are on their best behavior.

Let me give you an example outside of church.  Most of you know that I have a second job at a large delivery company (sort of like UPS).  And like most workplaces, the behavior is filthy:  Constant cursing, dirty stories, sexual innuendo, gossip, bickering, rudeness, complaining, etc.  However, imagine that an 8-year-old child walked into the room.  What would happen?  It would completely change the atmosphere in the room.  The adults would start acting like adults.  Just about all of the bad behavior would go out the door.  The child's presence would instantly transform the room from R-Rated to G.  Because when there's a child in the room, adults are on their best behavior.

Now translate that into the church.  When parents are sitting next to their kids, they can't nod off and take a power nap.  They can't play Spider Solitaire on their phones.  They can't draw pictures, or pass notes, or cut up with one another.  They are forced to set a good example.  They don't have any choice but to stand and sing during worship, to pay attention to the sermon, to take notes, to stay awake, to bow their heads and close their eyes during the prayer, and to stay 'till the end.  It helps in Home Group, too.  With kids in the room, all the adults sit up a little straighter, they pay closer attention, they participate more, and they are more careful with their words, avoiding things like gossip, grumbling about others, complaining, and arguing.  The focus of the room is on setting a good example.  

I always assumed that family-integration was all about the kids.  When kids sit next to their parents in church it pushes kids to behave, and they learn how to be mature by observing their parents.  But after experiencing family-integrated church first hand I've come to see that the adults benefit just as much as the kids.  Including the kids in everything we do pushes adults to mature actions and attitudes in order to be a good example for their kids. 

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