Segregated for Worship

This is part two of the series looking at the inclusion of Children & Young People in Worship – this time just a quick overview of the issue of segregation.

At Spurgeon Baptist Church it is our practice to spend the first part of the service with all ages present, before separating about half way through, with the young people leaving the service and heading into different age groups.

There appear to be three different approaches to the logistics of the Junior Church ‘hokey cokey‘ (in, out, etc).  In brief, this involves Children and Young People:

  • in at start of service then depart…
    • positive: get to experience other people worshipping
    • positive: experience ‘church’ together as a family
    • positive: acts as an introduction when the leave Junior Church
    • negative: sending them out can appear negative
  • out from the start (never joining the main congregation)
    • positive: appropriately targeted teaching & worship
    • positive: a more relevant expression of church for them
    • negative: never worshipping with adults
  • out at the start but joining the congregation later
    • positive: welcoming the younger ones into the Church
    • negative: logistically more difficult

This is just a simple outline of the options and some positives & negatives of each – it is by no means exhaustive.  Apart from spending the whole service together (traditional ‘family service’), can you think of any additional models to add? Do you agree or disagree with the positives/negatives as stated? Do you have some more to add? Leave your comments below.

The next post will have more to get your teeth into…

9 thoughts on “Segregated for Worship”

  1. We have literally the hokey-cokey – in at start, sent off for own, age appropriate, teaching and back in for communion. They are essentially part of the service, but have their own (incredibly short) activities and then back in – logistically difficult, as you point out. It's also what you do with them while their in – make too much fuss over them and it is significant when they go, don't make any fuss at all, and they might as well not be there in the first place. In my placement church, they have a prayer out the front at the very start as they leave and then, when they return, they come and share what they've been learning/doing.

    Not an easy question – get it right and it will be very rewarding, get it wrong and it puts children off children's activities & adults off children in church.

    1. Hi Simon,
      that sounds all too hard. What do the kids do when they're 'out' ?
      Does the sharing time become messy, or like 'show and tell' at primary school?

  2. Thanks for the comment Simon. Sounds like you just need 'shake it all about' and you're there! (maybe that's what they do whilst they're out?)

    Simon wrote:

    :: It's also what you do with them while their in […] get
    :: it right and it will be very rewarding, get it wrong and
    :: it puts children off children's activities & adults off
    :: children in church.

    So true – and we'll be discussing that 'holy grail' as the series continues.

  3. Hi Ricky,
    I would debate some of your positives and negatives. Children in a totally separate programme are not going to have a more relevant experience of church any more than kids kept in long daycare have a more relevant experience of family.
    Also, because God made us all different, the average grown-up is going to tune out of some aspects of a church service. No church can target and make direct hits with every adult worshipper every time, however we think we need to do this for the kids.
    Incidentally, kids are very comfortable with not understanding the world around them, and they expect grown-ups to ignore them a lot of the time.


    1. It was just a quick and simple post – time didn't allow for a a detailed analysis. It was more of a brain-dump to free up some space. Thanks for the comments – all good points.

  4. In my home church we do kids start out and then in later, so both kids and adults start with teaching (adults generally do a song/ prayers etc at start, but then its sermon). We then have "fellowship time" (tea/coffee for adults, kids either still in groups or having juice etc together), which also gives a nice buffer to come back together for worship for all ages. In my opinion that's good for that particular church setting, but worked best when all ages followed a shared curriculum, so worship could meaningfully flow out from teaching.

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