Our children are ours for a while so they can be God’s forever. Children are a gift, a sacred trust from God (Psalm 127:3-5). Because parenting is a stewardship, we can be confident the Lord will one day ask, “How have you done with the little one(s) I placed in your care?” One of the greatest joys and blessings of being a parent is being able to introduce your kids to God and to His worship and praise. What an amazing opportunity parents have!
Christian parents who give great thought, prayer and effort as to how to best accomplish this with their kids are deserving of our admiration and encouragement (see Proverbs 22:6). While introducing children to God and to His worship is an incredible privilege, it can also be quite a challenge. One young Christian couple jokingly referred to their life as Christians as “Worship B.C. and A.D.” – Before Children and After Diapers! It can be really hard for parents to properly focus on God during worship when little ones are in need of a diaper change!
Here’s a few principles to keep in mind for helping guide our kids into the joy of worship. Congregations would do well to make a special effort to encourage good parenting in the pew.
- We all should keep in mind that God loves and welcomes the presence and praise of children (Matthew 18:1-6). Jesus really does love the little children, and so should we in our assemblies.
- Children learn to worship the same way they learn to walk or to play baseball or do gymnastics. They learn by practice, by active participation, by encouragement and by example (Philippians 4:9). One of my greatest joys as a preacher is to ask a question during a sermon only to have it correctly answered by a child!
- Too many adults learned as children to sit still during assemblies, but never really learned to worship. What a tragedy! This is only one part of Psalm 46:10. While reverence and awe characterize true worship, so do joy and loving adoration (John 4:24; Matthew 15:6-9; Psalm 103:1-2). Blessed are the balanced!
- We must not resent little ones for being little. Children are going to sometimes squirm. They may even cry and get a bit unruly occasionally. Conscientious parents often feel embarrassed when this occurs. Please let parents know you appreciate their constructive efforts to help their children come to know and worship God. Most of us who preach don’t at all mind competing with a crying baby; it’s a sign of life within a congregation. Be patient with both parents and kids in this process (2 Timothy 4:2).
- Great worship on Sunday often begins with good preparation on Saturday. This is especially true with kids. Frantic, hurried weekends often lead to frazzled, weary young families on the Lord’s day. Children will pick up at a very young age the priority and preparation made for meeting with God and His people on the Lord’s day (Hebrews 10:25)
- Congregations would do well to have a “Pew Packers” class for the young on Sunday evenings to encourage their knowledge and praise of God. We devote 15 minutes to “Pew Packers” every Sunday night where I preach, and I am constantly amazed and overjoyed by the way the children in the congregation participate. Because it’s such an uplifting time, nearly the whole church shows up for it too!
- Our public worship on Sunday will be made even better when there also has been an emphasis upon private and family worship during the week. The practice of this or lack thereof can be quite telling. It only makes sense that children’s understanding of what is going on in an assembly will be greater when they relate it to what’s been a consistent practice each week at home.
Godly people both seek to be the worshiper God desires us to be as well as a model and example for others; thankfully, there’s no difference. Parents, seek to emphasize your own worship and praise of God. Seek to pass this love on to your children. They will see by your consistent attitude, practice and teaching what it means to know and to praise our King!