Generation Cedar

Why Children Need to Be in Grown-Up Worship

“They’re distracting.” “Moms need a break.” “They can’t understand.”

Why Excluding Children from Worship is a Disservice

Sounds reasonable, but I believe with all my heart, children need to be smack dab in the middle of grown up worship, and we do them a great disservice to put them elsewhere.

Children learn almost everything by experience and observation. Yet we take the one, most important thing they will learn–the WORSHIP of God–and exclude them. When Jesus said, “Let the little children come” I think He really meant to Him. And where do we corporately go to Him? The worship service.

We sing rich, robust hymns that teach us theology (at least a few churches still do) while they sing Veggie Tales. We hear and read the transforming Word of God while they hear a watered down story. We imbibe the sacredness of being in the presence of a holy God and they eat cookies and play games. We lift up holy hands and they miss seeing the reverence we are called to exhibit because they are being distracted.

Is it any wonder our children grow up and crave to merely be entertained at church, if they even decide to stay at all?

Training Children to Sit Still During Services: A Worthy Effort

Does it take some work to train children to sit still during a 2 hour service? Sure it does. Work worthy of doing. Work that will prove peripheral benefits. When I had young children, sometimes I would sit in the foyer and practice there, in case they were noisy. It didn’t take very long of intentional training.

Learning from Children in Worship: The Value of Imitation

When the Psalmist says, “Out of the mouths of babes and infants, You have ordained praise” doesn’t that make us long to hear the utterings of babies and toddlers in our worship service? They need, and learn from us, but we need and learn from them!

To the rebuttal of “they can’t understand and need something on their level…” Think about how a child learns practically everything. Speech. Psychology. Physics. They learn by being immersed in the world, experiencing things they don’t understand, yet come to learn with remarkable accuracy. Don’t let us stunt their growth in the one place that matters most. We are called to make disciples. They learn by imitation. Consider how age-segregated worship affects the Body.

Immerse them in the beauty and depth of worship. It may be the most important thing we can do for our children.

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12 Responses

  1. I agree . We left a mega church with separate children’s ministry to attend a smaller reformed church where children worship with the congregation. Children understand way more than we give them credit for. Many times one of my young children has asked a question about the sermon that really surprised me. It is also a good skill to learn to sit quietly and pay attention for longer periods of time. They are capable! Our church does offer Sunday school after the worship service, so they still receive “age appropriate” instruction.

  2. Great article, Kelly! I wholeheartedly agree. Training little ones to sit still and not be a distraction can be done especially if the children they are brought into church services soon after they’re born. I always held my babies until they were able to sit quietly and still in the pew. I loved that they were in my arms listening to me sing, seeing me pray and paying attention…modeling worship. Practically, it helps to hold your baby or toddler on your lap, facing forward so they learn not to wiggle and will not be a distraction to those sitting behind you. Who can resist making silly faces at a baby/toddler? 🙂 If the child was unable to sit still, facing forward, I would step out and, as you said, Kelly, sit somewhere where we could still hear the service, and intentionally train my little one that this time was a time to be settled and quiet. I didn’t allow it to be a run around, playtime. They learned very quickly the order of things of worship services and we were able to sit as a family, learning, signing, singing, hearing God’s word…together. What a privilege!

  3. Im traying to share in FB. cannot. it just copies the general blog page, not that specific article.

  4. Very good post Kelly. Some things I never thought of too. Our children were never exposed to children’s church but many are.

  5. This is excellent. It is true that children learn by what they see around them. How wonderful for little ones to see and experience the beautiful and comforting routine of sitting in church with the family!
    Thank you!

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