I recently read an article that began this way: “Imagine a worship service without children. No little ones crying or talking during the sermon. No chance of unwanted artwork on the seat fabric or worship books. No more fish crackers to dig out of the chair creases. No wasted visitor cards. No need to answer a dozen questions during the liturgy. A worship service without children would be orderly, quiet, and peaceful. And it would be a sign that something in the life of the church is terribly wrong.”
This article got me thinking. Any parent with young kids (of which I am), or who has been there before, will tell you there are unique challenges when it comes to having our kids participate in corporate worship. Endless requests for water. The wriggles. The noises. The toilet trips. The snack packs (and the mess that entails). On I could go.
When bringing little kids to church, it's easy to be frustrated, or embarrassed, or discouraged at times. Or, sometimes, all of the above. But let me encourage you why worshipping together matters. Like, really matters.
Without doubt, there is no substitute for a kid watching their parent’s model worshipping together: Singing of Christ’s worth; engaging with the deep truths of God in His Word; taking Communion; loving and encouraging one another in fellowship, and so on. If it is true that “more is caught than taught”, parents should value modelling true worship for their kids more than any lesson that might be taught by their ABC Kids team.
Now, it’s true, our kids won’t understand everything that happens in church. There will be words and ideas and songs and things we do that we’ll need to explain (I’m reminded of Charlize’s assessment of things when she witnessed her dad hold someone underwater in a Baptism: “Oh, that’s horrible, Dadda!”) But kids don’t understand a lot of things we teach them early on. But we’re parenting her as if she will grow into a right understanding of things, and a million other things. As one author puts it, “In the long run (and parenting is all about the long run) your family will be richer for it, and no doubt so will your church.”
Your kids learn to love God by watching you love God. And, your kids learn to love the church by watching you love the church. So, with Psalmist, let’s say, “Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt His name together (Psalm 34:3).
That "together" matters. Like, really matters.