Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Children in Worship

Someone on the WTM Message Board recommended this article when another asked about how to handle having children participate in the worship service. It clearly states the philosophy behind including children in the worship service while also offering helpful, practical tips. Here is a taste:

God-centered worship is supremely important in the life of our church. We approach the Sunday morning worship hour with great seriousness and earnestness and expectancy. We try to banish all that is flippant or trivial or chatty...

There are several reasons why we urge parents to bring their children to worship. But these arguments will not carry much weight with parents who do not love to worship God.

The greatest stumbling block for children in worship is that their parents do not cherish the hour. Children can feel the difference between duty and delight. Therefore, the first and most important job of a parent is to fall in love with the worship of God. You can't impart what you don't possess.

I encourage you to read the entire article, The Family: Together in God's Presence, by Noel Piper on the Desiring God Ministries website if you are interested in learning how and why to involve your children in worship.

We have included our children in the worship service since Primo was a newborn. It hasn't always been easy. Children wiggle and yell and ask embarrassingly phrased questions at inappropriate times and at inappropriate volumes. "But how can I worship if I am tending to my children through the worship service?" you ask. I contend that you are worshipping while tending to your children. God tells us that children are a blessing (Psalm 113:9; Psalm 127: 3-5; Proverbs 17:6). He also commands us to worship Him corporately (Acts 2:1; Acts 5:12; Acts 15:30-35). Therefore, for the stage of life in which you have small (or not so small) children, you worship God by teaching your children to worship. Clinging to unrealistic visions of what worship is when you are teaching your children to worship alongside you will only cause you, your children, and those trying to worship around you to become frustrated and miss out on true worship.

Some tips that we have found helpful in involving our children in the worship service:

1. Draw pictures of the sermon for younger children or encourage older children to do so. This keeps them (and you) listening to what is being taught rather than disappearing into an imaginative world or counting ceiling tiles. (from The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer)

2. Allow children to sing, clap, and dance as they are moved to during times of music. Make sure that you sit in a place where you can minimize distractions of those who may have a different worship philosophy.

3. Sit in the deaf section if your church has one. Often, children can grasp concepts by watching the signs for complex thoughts and words even if they could not understand the spoken concept. An added bonus is that children's hand movements are tolerated more where others communicate and worship with their hands.

4. Do not be afraid to remove a child from the service if they are being disrespectful in their disruptiveness. (Every child is going to ask questions, and these should be answered as often as possible, but yelling or jumping around is not acceptable.) However, use this period of removal for discipline then return to the service, otherwise the child will think that he can get out of the service by being disruptive.

5. Pray for your children. Pray in the service, before the service and throughout the week that your children would serve God through corporate worship.

I will extol the LORD at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.

My soul will boast in the LORD;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.

Glorify the LORD with me;
let us exalt his name together.

-Psalm 34:1-3

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