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Question of the week: Should we kick kids out of church?

 
 

I’m fairly sure that most people will shout, “NO! Kids should never be kicked out of church.” And yet, that seems to be happening more and more. I don’t mean that leaders are intentionally kicking kids out of church permanently, but many are asking the child to leave a class for a week or two. To the child, it is it feels like being kicked out of church.

Recently, I’ve been approached several times about what a church can do about unruly, out of control, mean and challenging kids. It is conundrum for church leaders and children’s ministers.

Your church needs to determine its own policy. My goal is to give you some perspective on some of the causes and effects of such action.

Questions you may be asking

  • Do you keep the child and lose other children because this one kid is hurting others?
  • Do you try and talk to the parents or the single parent and get parental assistance?
  • Do you ask the child to leave thus kicking him or her out into the world alone because most kids kicked out of church don’t return later on?
  • Do you risk losing a family that might be ministered to and helped?

Causes

There is a reason a child behaves in a way that leads to such drastic consequences. That reason will be different for every child, but there is always an underlying cause.

The child could be experiencing a crisis of some sort and reacting to trauma– or could have attachment issues, be on the Autism spectrum, ODD, (Oppositional Deviant Disorder) ADHD, (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder), etc. One thing is for certain: many of these kids will not respond to typical discipline policies and procedures.

Note: another issue that has appeared recently is an outgrowth of the coverage of the violent protests on TV. I’m not here to debate the political aspect of the underlying issues, but simply to point out that many children will imitate what they are seeing on TV.

Parents need help too

More than likely, if a child is acting like this his parents don’t know what to do with him. They need help too. One thing you can count on and that is this child doesn’t have the voice he needs to express him or herself so the behavior itself has become the child’s voice. And the behavior is screaming for help.

There are successful ways to help children.

I do all-day workshops on this subject. It would be in inappropriate to try and give you “do this” and “this” and he/she will get better tips. Most of these problems will not be solved in one or two days. For some children it has taken years for the child to develop these patterns of behavior. These patterns won’t change in one day.

For other children their behavior is a reaction to the situation they are experiencing. While we can’t change the home life or the situation we can love these kids and disciple these kids. I believe kids can learn what is appropriate and what will be accepted in different situations. Some kids will act out at home but not at school. Some at school/church but not at home.

Questions to ask regarding an incident

If you are a children’s minister or the person overseeing a class sometimes it helps to know the right questions to ask. Here are some questions that will help you glean the entire story, not just the actions of the child.

  • What was the child like entering the room?
  • What was the reaction or the behavior of the person bringing the child? Was there a good-bye; rolling of the eyes; a “good luck with this kid today” attitude?
  • What happened before the incident?
  • What happened during the incident?
  • Who was involved?
  • What was the reaction of those around the child?
  • How did the adult(s) react?
  • What did the adult(s) do when this happened?

Sometimes just understanding the child and their situation helps you think through what needs to happen to help this child.

Always and without ceasing keep the troubled child, the leaders and parents in your prayers. Never discount what the Holy Spirit can do with and through this child.

For tips and helps in discipline, behavior, guidance and how to disciple a child see the many article/posts published here.

For tips and understanding of what is going on in the brains of stressed children and misbehaving children and how to better help them click here.

What can you do to keep from kicking a child out of church, and perhaps influencing his or her thoughts about God and the Kingdom?

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