Sometimes services need a PG rating. It’s important to be able to talk about the real world in sermons, and the real world isn’t always pretty – or kid friendly. If you are discussing porn use, drug addiction or adultery, it won’t be [and shouldn’t be] appropriate for children. Even messages that touch on divorce can traumatize kids, either filling them with fear or painful memories [and even self-blame]. 

The easiest answer is to avoid those topics and only preach about “nice” things – but that’s not what pastors are called to do, and we all know it. The reason that we have children’s ministry isn’t just to babysit – it’s so that kids can learn in age-appropriate environments. They are not just “little adults” – they cognate differently, thinking much more in black-and-white terms, and not understanding grownup relational structures, paradoxes and shades of meaning like adults do. Let people know the week before. Have ushers warn families with young kids if the topic that day is going to be intense – hell, death, grief, sex, etc… and remind in a friendly way during announcements [preservice slides can sometimes be helpful, but they are often ignored]. Don’t push kids to grow up too soon…

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