Why does Calvary Fellowship not allow children younger than 5th grade to participate in the main services with the adults?
The leadership of Calvary Fellowship recognizes this as one of the most misunderstood practices of the Fellowship. It is also a practice that not everyone can agree with and participate in. It is not our intention to imply that our way of holding services is the only right way to do it, but we do desire to explain the reasons for why we have established this policy and continue to enforce its adherence for all who attend the regular services of Calvary Fellowship.
Not including His healings, there are two occasions where Jesus directly interacted with children in the Scriptures. The first is found in Mark 9:36-37 where it says, “Then He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them, ‘Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.’” The other is found in Mark 10:13-16 (and the parallel passages of Matthew 19:13-14 and Luke 18:16). In that passage “they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.’ And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them.”
From these passages, we see two things that Jesus did specifically when dealing with children that we try to implement in the ministry of Calvary Fellowship. The first thing is that Jesus invited children to come to Him directly. We believe that our children’s ministry is designed to allow children to hear of, see, and meet Jesus directly through the Bible teaching and genuine care offered to children at their level of understanding. Our children’s ministry is not merely child care. It is intentionally teaching the same lessons and studies that the adults are receiving, but at a level of understanding that coincides with the children’s maturity and development. Therefore, the child can gain an understanding and experience of God for themselves as the children are taught and shown the life of Christ through the Scriptures.
The other thing we clearly see from Jesus’ dealings with children in the Scriptures is the personal contact He makes with them when interacting with them. We see Jesus take up the children in His arms and lay His hands on them to bless them. Children respond much better to teaching when it is reinforced with touch and presence. This would simply be impossible to do in the main services with the adults. In addition, the added physical care a child needs through touch and presence is especially distracting to adults who do not need the same kinds of reinforcement when sitting under didactic teaching. Therefore, we separate children from adults in teaching settings so both can get what they need. And it is our hope that when they come back together as a family, that each are better for the time they spent with Jesus. And if each are better, the family as a whole will be better.
We do not believe the main services at Calvary Fellowship are meant to be times of family worship. We do however believe it is important to worship and learn of God together with the people you love most in life. Therefore, we strongly encourage family devotions, small group home gatherings, and other events of the church for families to participate in together as they serve and worship God. However, during the teaching times of the church, we feel it is important to focus less on the family aspect of worship and more on the individual aspect of hearing, seeing, and knowing God. During the two Sunday morning services and the Wednesday evening service, we have designated a mere 4½ hours a week to apostle’s doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayers so that each person who attends at Calvary Fellowship can hear from and meet with God personally and directly.
How we at Calvary Fellowship have chosen to order our church service is not the only way to order a service, but we do believe it does better facilitate our primary objective of teaching God’s word so that individuals know, hear and see God. Our order is designed to create an environment for learning for both the children and the adults. We believe God meets the adults in the sanctuary during the main services of the church, and we also believe that Jesus is meeting children directly in the various classes and through the various teachers scattered throughout the building on a Sunday morning or a Wednesday evening.
If you have any questions about this practice, or if you and your family have specific circumstances that make it difficult to follow this practice, please speak to a pastor or elder. We love you and sincerely hope that services at Calvary Fellowship are special times set apart to meet with Jesus.
God bless you all.