Including Our Children in the Central Activity of the Church

Including Our Children in the Central Activity of the Church Growing up, one the most important and regular features of our family life was dinnertime. Sitting down and eating together was a high priority. After the dinner prayer, and throughout the meal, conversation flowed as we shared the day’s experiences and a myriad of other topics. Along with the obvious nutritional necessity and benefits, it was a time of family love, laughter, encouragement, and more. I can’t imagine, as a child, being excluded from this central aspect of family life! In an even more profound way, the corporate worship service is one of the most important and regular activities of the family of God. Here is how Pastor David Michael explains it:
  • Attending the worship service involves children in the most central, most regular, most valuable, and most corporate activity of the church.

When we encourage families to worship together, we communicate to the children they are a part of the congregation and, as such, should be included when the church gathers to worship. The presence of children also serves as a reminder to the church of its responsibility for nurturing the faith of the next generation.                   

The exclusion of children can foster a detachment from the church and leave them with little reason to be involved after they have outgrown the specialized programs for children and youth. Good habits and spiritual disciplines that are established in childhood are more likely to continue into adulthood. In fact, evidence suggests that children who grow up attending the corporate worship services with their parents are more likely to continue active involvement in church after they leave home.

John Piper notes that children who grow up regularly attending the worship service…

…unless we teach them otherwise, will grow up thinking: “This is where I belong on Sunday morning…” It will never enter their heads that not being there is a possibility if we expect it of them.

(John Piper. “The Children, The Church, and the Chosen,” September 22, 1980)

We do not believe that children who have been in children's church for several years between the ages of 6 and 12 will be more inclined or better trained to enjoy worship than if they had spent those years at the side of their parents. In fact, the opposite is probably the case.

It will probably be harder to acclimate a 10 or 12-year-old to a new worship service than a 5 or 6-year-old. The cement is much less wet, and vast possibilities of shaping the impulses of the heart are gone.

(John and Noël Piper, “The Family: Together in God’s Presence,” January 1, 1996)

In an article titled, “Children in Worship, Let’s Bring it Back,” Jason Helopoulos states the following:

Teenagers in our culture often balk at attending corporate worship. But how many of our teenagers have we setup for this reaction, because we did not consistently include them in worship until they were a teenager? If attending church for years has always meant coloring Bible pictures, singing songs to a cd, playing games, and doing crafts—then we should not be surprised that our young people find worship to be odd, uncomfortable, and even boring. I love good children’s songs—they ring through my house. I love good children’s Christian crafts—they decorate my study. But if this alone is the rhythm of church life we have set up for our children week in and week out, we have done them a great disservice.

They must see, know, and learn that the singing of the great hymns of the faith, the preaching of the Word, reading of confessions, corporate prayers, etc. is anything but boring. It is the gathered life of the community of faith. It is our weekly rhythm—appointed by God, designed by Him, established for the ages—this is what we want them to know, because we want them to know and worship Him.

(Jason Helopoulos, “Children in Worship–Let’s Bring it Back,” posted by Kevin DeYoung on March 6, 2012)

Including Our Children in the Central Activity of the Church

As John and Noël Piper have so aptly said:  

Worship is the most valuable thing a human can do. The cumulative effect of 650 worship services spent with Mom and Dad between the ages of 4 and 17 is incalculable.

(John and Noël Piper, “The Family: Together in God’s Presence,” January 1, 1996)

Read the Full Children in the Church Service Series Part 1: A Summer of Worshiping Together—Let the Children Come! Part 2: Including Our Children in the Central Activity of the Church Part 3: Inviting Children to Experience Worship of God Part 4: Inviting Children as a Means of Discipleship Part 5: "Let Them Come"—Help for Church and Parents

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