Last week I came across this amazing article by John & Noel Piper on Families sitting together during a worship service. It goes through some great topics that parent’s may ask themselves before they attempt the task of keeping their children with them during the service. They address how it is NOT an excessive expectation, and that NOT everything goes over their heads. The Pipers discuss how sitting together as a family in a worship service can create a “sense of Awe” if parent’s are “going hard after God.” What really stuck out to me was the modeling that Piper talked about.
In the article John Piper says some things that make me think. If we taught children that only true happiness is found in Jesus, then when they see their parent’s head (along with the congregation) bowed in earnest prayer before communion, and that their faces are illuminated with joy during worship…maybe, just maybe, there’s something of deeper value to be found in the pews with parents than in the classroom of a Sunday school teacher.
“…The greatest stumbling block for children in worship is that their parents do not cherish the hour. Children can feel the difference between duty and delight. Therefore, the first and most important job of a parent is to fall in love with the worship of God. You can't impart what you don't possess….
…Children should see how Mom and Dad bow their heads in earnest prayer during the prelude and other non-directed times. They should see how Mom and Dad sing praise to God with joy in their faces, and how they listen hungrily to His Word. They should catch the spirit of their parents meeting the living God…
…A deep sense of the unknown and the mysterious can rise in the soul of a sensitive child in solemn worship—if his parents are going hard after God themselves. A deep moving of the magnificence of God can come to the young, tender heart through certain moments of great hymns or "loud silence" or authoritative preaching. These are of immeasurable value in the cultivation of a heart that fears and loves God…”
There are some really great practical ideas on dealing with younger children in a service, and even preparation leading up to the church service.
At least a little curious to read the article? Go here.
Please note: I myself am a Sunday school teacher. I agree that there will almost always be a need for Sunday school-for infants and toddlers especially. New families, new believers, unbelievers will come to the church the children of those families may not be able to sit still. It would be better for the parent’s to learn about Jesus and how he relates to parenting than for them to be distracted by their children. I humbly submit these are all beliefs that I’ve had no life experience to try this with. However, I do trust that people like the Pipers, David & Sally Michael, and tons of others speakers I’ve heard on the topic-who have had more years of experience in both parenting and Children’s Ministry.