Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Surprising Benefits of Family-Integrated Church: Behavior Problems Disappear

In a family-integrated church, kids don't drive volunteer Sunday school teachers up the wall.  And children's Sunday school teachers don't burn out and quit.  Why?  Because in a family-integrated church, behavior problems miraculously disappear.  In a family-integrated church, kids sit right next to their parents in Sunday school or in Home Group.  And surprise, surprise, the kids act like perfect little angels.  Put a third-grade boy in a Sunday school class filled with other kids and separated from his parents, and you get Dennis the Menace.  Take that same kid and sit him in between his parents in a room full of mature adults who are also sitting next to their kids and suddenly his ADHD is cured.  It's a miracle!

Our church used to have a children's ministry for elementary aged kids, and the leaders were constantly frustrated by behavior problems.  I felt so sorry for them.  What were they supposed to do?  They tried all sorts of things:  (1) More activities to keep the kids busy; the kids went wild if there was any down-time.  (2) More volunteers.  (3) More MALE volunteers.  The boys, especially, seemed to respond better to male authority.  You definitely couldn't talk to the parents; they might be offended and leave the church.  In the end we never found a satisfactory solution. 

Then we transitioned to family integration, and something miraculous happened.  Those same "uncontrollable" kids were no longer a problem.  Their behavior problems disappeared.  They no longer frustrated the teachers and distracted the other kids.  They were able to sit perfectly still and quiet for an hour in worship, and an hour and a half in Home Group.  And they didn't need to be entertained.  They didn't need constant activities.  They didn't need to be bribed with a pizza party.  All they needed was to sit next to their parents and in a room full of mature adults and their maturity level increased exponentially.  Problem solved.  Solution found.  Threat neutralized.  Teachers are happy.  Kids are well-behaved.  And everyone is learning.

This is just one more surprising benefit of family-integrated church.  I guess you have to see it to believe it.

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