Monday, June 17, 2024
Monday, June 17, 2024
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Children In Worship

As more and more churches return to normal, there is a question of what is best for the children and students in our congregations. For many years, it has been assumed that children’s church is the best approach to providing a worship experience for younger children. In fact, many large churches have implemented age-graded worship experiences for those from birth through adulthood. Sunday morning becomes a segregated experience for the family from the time they get out of the car until they head back home. Pre-school worship, children’s church, junior worship, youth worship, contemporary worship and even traditional worship provide separate experiences on the same property move to pull the family apart.

God is honored with the intergenerational service. There is a place for age-graded times of study and interaction, but the church as a body should be multi-generational in nature. As children worship, they should be able to look over and see the weathered hands of a long-time saint who is weeping as they joyfully sing “Amazing Grace” for the hundredth time. Teenagers should see their parents pray together. Everyone should see that the gospel is sufficient for all ages.

I know some of you will say that it is hard to have little ones in the worship service with you. It is. There is no doubt about it. I still remember being one of those little ones and having my mom flip my ear to gain my attention as a little squirt. However, I think there are reasons to move in this direction:

• It is biblical. Think about Eph. 6:1. The Apostle Paul addresses children pointedly when he says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (ESV). Notice what he did not say. It doesn’t say, “Parents, tell your children to obey you, for this is right.” It addresses children. There was an understanding that children would be a part of the gathering. Paul didn’t assume that this information would need to be relayed through an adult. As his letter was read, children were addressed.

• It is an opportunity for children to see the example of their parents. Children, and especially young children, won’t understand all the words shared from the pulpit or the songs sung by the congregation. However, they will see the value their family places in gathered worship and the God they hold in high esteem. Now, if the parents or grandparents aren’t really concerned about worshipping the Father, the example is of lesser value, but it still speaks to the children.

• It confirms that the children are connected to the congregation. While unsaved children are not church members, they are still are part of your local congregation because of their families. Church members are praying for their salvation and are interested in their lives as a whole. When children have the opportunity to worship with those of all ages, it is a benefit to the child as well as the more mature member. A noisy church full of the sounds of children is a place that is full of life. A quiet church speaks volumes.

I know there are some of you who will disagree. You have people in your congregation who have seen children’s church as the only way to approach children and the gathered worship. I would encourage you to prayerfully consider your next steps with your children in church. Our church has decided to limit children’s church to those in first grade and down. Your church may want to go higher or step from the nursery into gathered worship. Whichever route you pursue, be sure to think about the long-term effects of your decisions. Gathered worship is important, and our children and youth need to understand that.