Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Should Children Be "Allowed" in the Worship Service?

Here are some GREAT questions and answers from the blog of the church we are now attending.  More churches need to see the need to train parents and children how to worship together.

Gospel of Grace Church

Why are there children in the worship service? Doesn't your church have a special children's program for them?
We are a church that emphasizes "intergenerational" or "family-integrated" ministry. The Bible teaches that parents are to be the foremost teachers of their children (Deut. 6:7; Proverbs 29:17; Ephesians 6:4), so as a church we attempt to support and assist (not replace) parents in that role. That is why we invite children to stay in the worship service and participate as they are able.

How can a young child understand what is going on?
The Bible talks about children asking parents questions (Exodus 12:26; Deut. 6:20), and the parents explaining and teaching (Exodus 12:27; Deut. 6:21-25). But if a child is not present in worship to observe, how will the child be able to ask their parents questions about worshipping God?

Won't they just disrupt the service?
Yes, indeed. We assume that a child unfamiliar with or unprepared to sit through an hour long service will most likely cause disruptions during the service. In order to assist parents through such disruptions, we have an area at the back of the church where parents can take a child. The glass doors can be closed if the child is noisy, and yet participation can continue since the area has speakers. After a time of "encouragement and training" most children will be able to sit still and learn about the Christian faith during the worship service. But in the meantime, while parents are in the process of training children to sit attentively during worship, we bless and thank God for their presence and little voices in worship.

Is there anything else I can do to help my child behave respectfully in church?   
Family worship times at home are ideal for learning and practicing this! If a child is old enough to understand the concept of using an "inside voice" (talking) versus an "outside voice" (yelling), the child will soon be able to understand that behavior during a worship service should be different than playing at home. If your child asks, "Why?", you'll be able to smile. Your child has just asked why we respect God...a great place to start teaching!

It is so much easier to send my children to a program designed for children, instead of putting all this effort into training them to behave well in an adult worship service. Isn't this putting too much emphasis on the children?                        
We are trying to strike a biblical balance between worshipping our children (which is idolatry) and neglecting our children (which is ungodly). The Bible clearly teaches that parents are to train up their children (Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4), and this training takes a lot of work. That is why our church positions itself alongside parents in order to assist them as they diligently struggle to train each child. Just as we desire to see people from all tongues, tribes, and nations bow the knee to Jesus Christ and worship Him, so too we desire every member of our families (including our children) to bow their knee to Christ and worship Him. Therefore, we strive in our commitment as a church to encourage families to worship together. 


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