Keeping your children in the corporate worship service of the church can seem like a daunting task. When we think about trying to keep a toddler quiet or an older child engaged for over an hour, it seems exhausting.
And, well.....it is!
But it is also good.
Many of the best things in life are challenging. Parents who take the challenge to worship together as a family will feel spent and poured out in the worship of their Lord for the sake of genuine faith in their children. What a glorious way to be spent!
Benefits of Worshiping Together
Someone might ask, "If it is such a challenge, then why should we do it?"
Children observe and learn when they are invited to stay in the worship service with their family. Worshiping together creates an environment for your kids that allows front row access to a the faith of their parents. You will be surprised by how much even the smallest child can learn by sitting with you as you worship your God. As in many things, the benefits of worshiping together outweigh the perceived negatives.
Benefit #1: Your children will sit under the powerful declaration of the Word of God. Romans 10:17 tells us that, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing through the word of Christ." Keeping kids in the service gives them opportunities to hear the Word of God preached and therefore opportunities for faith.
Benefit #2: Your kids have more to learn about worshiping God by watching you then sitting with their peers or in a separate worship service designed for their age group. Children do not naturally know what it means to worship God. As parents you will have the opportunity to guide your children into responding to the great works of God.
Benefit #3: Your children will hear your passion as you sing, see the way that you listen intently to the sermon, watch you turn the pages in your Bible and experience the reverence of your prayers. Your faith is on display for your kids everyday, and especially in moments that you spend in worship. Let them in on your faith and worship before them.
Benefit #4: Your kids will experience the unity of the church that crosses all observed boundaries. All ethnicity, age, and social status are equal and invited to the corporate worship of God in the church. It is beautiful to behold and wonderful to experience. In the worship service your children will get a glimpse of Revelation 7:9 "a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb"
5 Tips: Keeping Kids in the Worship Service
1) Start at Home: Begin training your children for corporate worship at home by establishing a consistent family worship time. Make this time a joyful one that highlights the beautiful word of God and the great works that God has done for His people. This can also include a time to pray and sing. As we model the worship of God in our home, our children will understand the importance of corporate worship as well.
2) Don't let it be only about discipline: "Be still and know that I am God." Is not a specific command from God to children who are sitting in the worship service. Though discipline and self-control are of the utmost importance, the worship service is not strictly an opportunity to display our children's aptitude for obedience. Draw them into the worship of their King. Give them permission to sing loudly to God. Help them to listen intently and be encouraged by the sermon, and teach them it is good to pray to God, even if others might hear us. Find ways to minimize distraction, but do not prioritize silence and stillness over worship.
3) Find Joy Worshiping God in all Circumstances: Many of us are hesitant to try and keep our kids in service with us because we find it hard to "worship" while training our children. Your greatest act of obedience to God might be training your children to love him and know him. This means that our whispering the lyrics of the praise song in our child's ear, is worship. Our reminding them of the beauty of the current passage of scripture, is worship. Our holding their hands as we pray, is worship. And our helping them to stand and sit at the appropriate times in service, is worship. God is honored by parents who set aside their own preferences in order to train worshipers. Be joyful knowing that you can honor God in this way.
4) Don't pacify your children's desire to be entertained: If your children have a hard time sitting still in a worship service because they are bored, the worship service is not the problem. Kids are constantly coveting entertainment. For young children it might be toys and TV that entertain them through the day. For teens it is probably their phone or another screen. Sunday service should not be another time that they are given the screen or toys to entertain them. If your child has a hard time staying quiet and still during service, or just seems bored; highlight at home the excitement of God's word and limit the amount of screen time they get. If they become a distraction for others in service, take them out for a moment and help them to settle down, then try to sit down again. It is a slippery slope to offer your kids entertainment every time they are bored or unsettled.
5) Teach them that the Worship Service is about hearing and responding to God: The reason we gather at church with other believers is to offer to God our affections and praise. We recognize as believers that we are lost without the redemptive work of God through the life, death and resurrection of His Son. We need to teach our children that every time we gather together it is for the purpose of interacting with our living God. He speaks to us through scripture and we respond in worship.
Bonus Tip) "Be Still" is a passage for you: Psalm 46:10 was written by a Psalmist who was troubled by the world and in need of rest and relief. Parents who are training their children to worship need to keep this passage in mind as they are being spent for the worship of their Lord. "Be still and know that I am God." In the midst of all the troubles we experience, God is still God. Find rest and relief for your soul and let not your worries hinder your worship.
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