Inviting Children as a Means of Discipleship

Inviting Children as a Means of Discipleship It seemed like an eternity at the time—a frustrating eternity—to train our wiggly, always talking, 5-year-old son to sit quietly through a 90-minute worship service. But somehow we all lived through it, and slowly but surely he learned to not only sit and be quiet, but he also began to recall and ponder an amazing amount of the sermon teaching. In turn, this provided us with a springboard for further spiritual discussion and training in the home. This leads to Pastor David Michael’s fourth benefit for welcoming children into the corporate worship service (see Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3):
  • It facilitates the discipleship of our children.

Bringing children into the worship service provides an opportunity for them to learn how to worship God and to discover the purpose for which they were created. Lord willing, not only will our children worship God here on earth, but will spend eternity doing so.

Children can be taught to listen and engage with what is being said, even if they do not understand everything. Drawing pictures of what they hear from the preacher, listening for specific words, writing down the words they don’t understand or questions they have, or recording something they learned about God are all ways children can learn to be attentive listeners and interact with the Word being proclaimed. The content of prayers, songs, and sermons give parents the opportunity to discuss, explain and teach truths to their children. Children do understand great truths from the sermon and can become astute students of the Word, especially if they are trained to listen well.

Children also learn how to sit quietly and to submit to their parents during a worship service as explained by John Piper:

 …the desire to have children in the worship service is part of a broader concern that children be reared so that they are "submissive and respectful in every way" (1 Timothy 3:4). To sit still and be quiet for an hour or two on Sunday is not an excessive expectation for a healthy 6-year-old who has been taught to obey his parents. It requires a measure of discipline, but that is precisely what we want to encourage parents to impart to their children in the first five years.”

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

So parents and church, this summer consider these four wonderful benefits for inviting the children into the worship service:
  • There is spiritual benefit for children who participate
  • Attending the worship service involves children in the most central, most regular, most valuable, and most corporate activity of the church.
  • It provides children with an intergenerational experience and thus the opportunity to be influenced by and benefit from the example of others, especially their parents.
  • It facilitates the discipleship of our children.
And let them come!   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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