When there are age limits set on events, classes, or groups I believe that they were set after thought had been put into it. I don’t believe age limits were set arbitrarily. The people in charge considered the maturity level, the abilities, and combining of the intended audience.
Now, it is very tempting to include person that is slightly younger or slightly older than the stated ages but this is a selfish thing to do. If this is allowed, it will change the dynamics of the group. Yes, even one outside the posted ages can be a hindrance.
Let’s say a meeting or group is focused on teens. If a pre-teen is included in the meeting or group, then there can be conversations that are inappropriate for that younger person – you could do harm to that child. But maybe there were things deemed not appropriate for that younger person and so the conversation was not included in the activities planned – this could harm a person in the target age group because they may have needed to hear what was going to be said but wasn’t.
Let’s say the meeting was for young adults. You have the same issues as stated above if school-aged teens attend. Yes, they may face some of the same situations but it could very well hinder the targeted age group from being ministered to in a way God intended. Now it can also be harmful for the intended target if people older than the target age group attend, as it can hinder the intended group from getting what they need. When ages outside the intended age group attend, it changes not only the atmosphere but the feeling of safety and expression as well.
As a parent, when we hear of something that sounds so awesome coming up, we want our child(ren) to be a part of it. We can tend to think ‘Oh my child is mature and/or gifted’ and that they could attend, especially if they have friends that are a little older and will be attending. Let me just say, this could be harmful to your child or cause someone else that IS the right age, to not be able to receive something they needed. It is best to honor the people who set the ages and the people in the targeted age group enough to keep your child away until he/she IS in the targeted age group, even if it is a once in a lifetime event.
Until next time, God bless,