Parents have the primary responsibility to spiritually nurture their children (Deuteronomy 6:7-9; Ephesians 6:4). To that end, we have our children sit in the church service with us. We do not send them away from the Church's worship of Christ. On the contrary, as Jesus commanded, we "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them." We seek to teach our children by having them watch us worship. The spiritual benefit of the time spent over 18 years or so, week after week, sitting beside Dad and Mom and watching them reverently sing the hymns, eagerly listen to the preaching of God's Word, and participate in the Lord's Table with joyful solemnity is incalcuable. It cannot be replicated by sending them away from us.
To help them learn to listen, we provide the littlest children a coloring page that matches the theme and text of the morning sermon. For the rest of our children, we provide sermon notes pages to foster the practice of listening to God's word and committing it to writing for future remembrance. After the sermon they are invited to bring their pictures and notes up to me and we go over them together. This is one of my highlights each week!
We know full well that this approach is a costly investment on the part of both parents and church. To the parents of our young children, may we suggest....
Relax! God put the wiggle in children; little noises and squirms are natural at that age. Your children are welcome!
Sit towards the front where it is easier for your little ones to see and hear what is going on. They tire of seeing the backs of heads, and they are more easily distracted when that is the case.
Quietly explain the parts of the service and actions of the pastor, deacons, congregation, etc. Answer their questions! Sing the hymns, pray, voice the responses. Children learn liturgical behavior by copying you.
If you have to leave the service with your child, feel free to do so, but please come back. As Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me.” Remember that the way we welcome children in church directly affects the way they respond to the Church, to God, and to one another.
To the members of our church….. The presence of children is a gift to the Church and they are a reminder that our congregation is growing! Please welcome our children and give a smile of encouragement to their parents.
For the joy of seeing our children embrace Christ!