We know that God has called us as parents to disciple our children and to raise them to know, love, and worship God themselves (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). We also know that kids are like little sponges, soaking up everything around them. This is why we want to use every moment of every day with our kids to teach them to love and worship Jesus themselves. Every aspect of life is an opportunity show our kids the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).
At the same time, there should be intentional times throughout the day and week that we pause as a family to consider who God is and what he has done for us. This might happen in the morning on the way to school, at the table during dinner time, or on the couch before bed. Gathering together regularly for family worship at home not only creates opportunities for the Gospel to soak down deep into our children, but shows them the priortiy of worship in our lives.
That is true at church as well. When we gather together as a church on Sundays to worship God, it shows our children the priority of worship in our lives. We want our kids to learn, from an early age, what it looks like to love Jesus and worship him with the whole church. We want them to be able to watch you sing, pray, read the word, and listen to the sermon so that they might learn to love Jesus and worship him too! We are modeling true worship for our kids so that we might say to them what Paul said to the church at Corinth, "Imitate me as I imitate Christ." (1 Corinthians 11:1)
In fact, when the apostle Paul wrote letters to the churches in Colossae and Ephesus he addressed deep theological truths, but he also addressed the children expecting them to be present in the worship gathering (Ephesians 6:1 & Colossians 3:20). This is just another reason why we have decided to intentionally keep our school age kids with us during the worship gathering on Sundays.
For more info about Family Worship, listen to or read John Piper's interview: Should Children Sit Through 'Big Church'?
We understand that kids might squirm, talk, laugh, cry, or even scream during the service, but that's fine! They are kids! We don't expect them to sit perfectly still and quiet, but want them to experience God, his word, and his people and grow to become worshipers themselves! We have Kids Services Guides at the back table to help engage children in the worship service. This will help them remember the songs we sing, scriptures we read, nations we pray for, words we say, and people who lead each part of the service. However, if you do need to step out with your child, you're welcome to sit at the tables in the hall. There you will be able to watch the service through the glass gym walls and hear everything over the speaker.
For more helpful ideas regarding Family Worship, read John and Nöel Piper's article, The Family: Together In God's Presence
Before you come to worship together as a family at church, consider preparing yourself and your kids for our time with one another.
PRAY FOR YOURSELF & YOUR CHILD
Ask God to prepare both of your hearts to hear from him. Pray that both of you will be attentive and not distracted from what God wants to do. Remember to pray with your children during the week as well and ask them to pray for you!
TELL THEM WHAT TO EXPECT & WHAT YOU EXPECT
Prepare your kids by telling them what we will be doing during the worship gathering. Explain that we will sing, pray, read, and listen together. Tell them we will sit down and stand up at different times during the service.
Let them know what you expect from them before going in and why. Then have a healthy balance of grace and truth. When your kids begin to fidget, don't simply tell them to stop, but feel free to lean over and engage them in the service. Ask them a question about whats happening, explain what we just sang or heard, open a Bible for them to read along, or give them their Kids Guide to color or count how many times the preacher says Jesus. You may need to step out to handle an issue, but please feel free to come right back in. We are family and want your kids to be with us too!
FOLLOW UP & DISCUSS AFTERWARDS
On your way home or during lunch, ask your kids some questions about the service to help them understand everything. What was your favorite song? What scripture did we study? What did you learn about God? What did you learn about yourself? What questions do you have about the Bible or the service?
We hope this helps prepare our kids at a young age to worship God with the whole church. We hope this opens their eyes, ears, minds, and hearts to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We hope they know the love of God, the blessing of the church, and joy we have in Christ together!