But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.2 Timothy 3:14-15 (ESV)
Candlewood Church is committed to raising our children and teens in the life of faith in Jesus Christ. For roughly 200 years, churches have used Sunday School and Children’s Church to accomplish that objective. Candlewood’s leadership sought direction from the Lord as to how we would bring up the kids of Candlewood in the faith once we made the shift from gathering in a central building to meeting in house churches scattered around the area. In the process, we discovered some facts that we had never before considered. For example:
The assumption is that the “Sunday School” program provided by traditional churches is the best way to raise up spiritual kids. The fact is, the majority of children raised in these programs exit youth group after high school (if they have lasted that long) and do not become regular church-goers. This is not to say that something of value didn’t take place, but it does point out that we are not getting the “results” that we hoped for.Simple/House Church Revolution — Roger Thoman
Thoman went on to quote Wayne Jacobsen who wrote:
I’d suggest that what [children] need most is to be integrated into God’s life through relational fellowship with other believers. 92% of children who grow up in Sunday schools with all the puppets and high-powered entertainment, leave ‘church’ when they leave their parents’ home…Simple/House Church Revolution — Roger Thoman
Even sociologists tell us that the #1 factor in determining whether a child will thrive in society is if they have deep, personal friendships with non-relative adults. No Sunday school can fill that role. I know of one community in Australia who after 20 years of sharing God’s life together as families could say that they had not lost one child to the faith as they grew into adulthood … it is far more important that our children experience real fellowship among believers rather than the bells and whistles of a slick children’s program.
In addition to this data, we have no records of special children’s programs in the early church and the early church grew by leaps and bounds both spiritually and numerically. Therefore, we at Candlewood would rather our children and teens be part of both our large group Gatherings and our Community Group experiences in the homes. We consider it healthy for them to see mom and dad worshiping their Lord and learning to do the same as they mature. And, if a toddler or a baby makes a squawk, that’s fine. We all love kids!