From the Pipers on sitting together at church

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. 


  1. At Grace Fellowship, we have the kids 3 and older sit in service until it is time for the teaching. Then the parent's have the choice of whether or not they want to send their kids to Sunday school or not.

  2. That's cool-there definitely should be a choice. Also, at our church there are a couple of kids that come without parents so it's important to find families that can in a sense can be their "adoptive" parents with hope through prayer that their parents will eventually come & know Jesus.

  3. Heather, this isn't to disagree but to perhaps clarify.

    I am almost sure that the background context from which Piper is speaking is a church where a family may attend for two hours back to back: one being a Sunday School time where adults may be in one class and children in another, and another hour where the family goes to a worship service.

    Piper is not addressing whether children should go to their own Sunday School class, but rather whether they go to some kind of "Junior Church" service while their parents are in a separate one for all ages. I think Piper is primarily speaking against having a separate junior church for kids after they reach a certain age, but rather encouraging the parents to bring the children into the service with them.

  4. I'm not sure what the service setup is for bethlehem, but in my experience mostly what you come across are two services (children's and adult's) that run simultaneously. I think the Pipers make an excellent case for keeping them with you if you have to choose between the two.

  5. @ David-Thanks for the clarification. I agree with what James said above. Also, when I say there's "something of deeper value to be found in the pews with parent's", I'm talking about the modeling of parents thats being watched by the children.

    Mainly, the best way to learn how to worship, the best way to learn to sit still, the best way to learn to listen to the word of God, the best way to learn how to revere God, is to see it done by the people whom God has placed in their every day lives-the parents. Those things can happen in everyday life but as a family together it can also happen in a church service.I believe along with J.C. Ryle when he says, "The best of school masters will not imprint on their minds as much as they will pick up at your fireside."

    (Not just to David but for further clarification) There is definitely a place for Sunday School. I don't think it's wrong to have it or less to bring your kids to it. There are tons of things for individual churches to consider.

    Thanks for the comments. Comments help me to further think through what I am trying to get at. I appreciate it.