....chances are that you are worshiping more frequently with just the older half of the church these days. Youth retreats and teen worship services, young adult seminars and prayer conferences, puppet ministries and children's churches proliferate, and the obvious if unspoken message reminds you that there is a penalty for Christian maturity .... Grow up in Jesus, and you will probably be worshiping only with those of your own age. Someone else will hear your child's sung confession of her faith. Someone else will know your teen's first halting try at public prayer. Someone else will feel the deep, impassioned pleading of college students, pouring out their hearts to God for revival and resurrection. Worse yet, you will be told that these are all good things, that you should cheerfully accept your life sentence for having committed the crime of adulthood.
Reaching people where they live is key to evangelizing. Evangelizing to our families is a priority. Saving our children is our immediate calling. Children's church is a resource for parents to help reach kids and teens in a language and at a level that is comfortable and understandable for them.
Children's church is not, or should not be, the sole source for our children's experiences with God. It is not the church's responsibility to save our children. We parents must accept this responsibility that was commended to us. Deut 6:6&7 says "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up."
If you are faithfully introducing God and his goodness to your children through family devotionals, bible teachings and by your example, with any luck you will be the one by her side when she makes that decision to accept God into her life. But that is not what's most important.
It wouldn't be if I knew I had a significant hand in planting the seed that brought her to her decision. It wouldn't be if she walked through my front door with the radiant smile of a new believer and a joyous testimony to share.
Ultimately, it is your child's experience that is important. What's important is that she gets to the place where she can establish a conviction to dedicate her life to God. If that means that all of your teachings, instruction and investment in her comes together and makes sense after a service specifically tailored for her, then Praise God!
Although it would be a pleasure to share in the event, I don't have to be there when she is saved. Her salvation is her own, to be experienced at a designated time and after a specific experience which I believe God has all planned out. Phillipians 2:12-13 plainly says: Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
The point is that I'm not going to save my daughter, but it is my responsibility to guide her to He who can save her: Jesus. My job as a parent is to provide a home environment, and to place her in situations, that will help her find her own salvation. I believe Children's Church and Youth Rally's are tools that help us to achieve that goal.
Churches that specifically serve the needs of every age group are a blessing. There are real life issues that are specific to each demographic. Each demographic deserves preachings that are relevant to their lives to help them have a successful walk with Christ. When I was beginning my walk with God, I needed basics or foundation of God's Word for my early growth. But as I mature in my Christian walk, I need preachings and teachings of meatier substance that I can apply to my situation today.
On the other hand, I also think it's great when churches maintain Family Services in their agendas. I was raised in a church where we had Sunday School and evening Family Services. In Sunday School we had our age appropriate curriculum but in the evening we also had the experience of adult church services. Often the pastor bringing the Word in the evening would try to have it coincide with the teachings we where receiving in our Sunday School classes.
So what did I learn? I did learn how to worship alongside my parents. I learned to respect sermon time with reverent respect. I remember those few times when I did grasp portions of the message, and I felt proud. Most of all I observed that both old men and young can be moved by the word of God and songs that praise Him.
My parents were close by when I received God into my heart and life, but they didn't witness it first hand. They had already been a part of all my first encounters. They had planted the seed of God's love in me. They had witnessed to my by their Christian example. They first took me to Sunday School where the flame growing inside of me was fanned.
Family Service is where it all came together. It could have happened anywhere. The point was that I had given my life to God. Although my parents didn't witness it, because they had initiated all of my 'firsts', once they knew about it they still felt it. And they heard my song of salvation as I shared my experience with them.