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Strategic Discipleship: Children in Worship

Written by David Michael on

 

Summer provides many opportunities for College Park children to know Jesus better and to grow in faith, and Sunday School Summer Recess is one of those opportunities.

WAIT A MINUTE! Has our Pastor for the Next Generation gone off his rocker? How does not having elementary Sunday School in the summer contribute to the discipleship of our children?

Well, thanks for giving me a few minutes to explain.

After devoting more than two decades of my ministry efforts to the discipleship of children and youth, I am persuaded that one of the most important things parents can do to nurture the faith of their children is to bring them to the worship service.

Participating in our Sunday School is also important for our children. I wouldn’t want any student or child to miss out on the opportunity for the spiritual growth and maturity that Sunday School provides, and yet, I will often tell parents, “If you have to choose between sending your child to Sunday School or bringing them into the worship service, choose the latter”. It is that important.

Since roughly 75% of our Sunday School children are not regularly attending a worship service with their parents, the Summer Recess provides a great opportunity and encouragement for families to experience worship together.

Here are three of the underlying convictions that support the value we place on children in worship.

1. Children are absorbing more from a worship service than we think they are.

  • Children observe an intensity and earnestness in corporate Sunday morning worship that often impresses on them the greatness and the glory of the One we worship.
  • Even though they do not understand every word or concept in a sermon, young children do pick-up on the hunger and passion for the word of God that they observe in both the preacher and the listeners. We are people of the “the Book” and children learn that this Book is central in the life of a follower of Jesus.
  • Though some ideas and streams of thought in an average sermon at College Park are complex and over the heads of our children, it is amazing how much children actually absorb. A five-year-old can be taught to listen for keywords and interact with a message as a good listener in a way that helps them understand the central message of the sermon.
  • Children’s hearts can be just as responsive to the work of the Holy Spirit in a worship service as an adult’s can. Even when children have not understood the words of a song or sermon, parents have often testified to their children being spiritually impacted at various points in the worship service.

2. Lifetime habits and attitudes are more easily formed and more likely to endure if established early in life.

  • The habit of regularly participating in corporate worship.
  • The habit of listening. If we help children develop good listening skills when they are young, even if they do not understand everything being said, they are more likely to benefit from the ministry of the word as their minds mature and are able to grasp more complex ideas.
  • The habit of self-control. A seventy-five-minute service is a long time for a five-year-old to sit.  For some, it may even be impossible but most can be taught to sit quietly and resist distraction for that period of time which will also serve them well in the years to come.

3. Important values are reinforced.

  • Like every human being, children are created for worship, and when they gather with us for worship they contribute in ways that are unique to children and can benefit the whole congregation.
  • The presence of children in our worship services helps reinforce to children that they are included in our fellowship and that the Body of Christ is established by faith and not by age.
  • The presence of children in our worship services reminds the church of our responsibility to teach our children to fear the Lord and diligently teach them what we have learned of God and the life of faith.
  • Children are “adults in process”. By the grace of God, we are raising children for worship and therefore providing ample opportunities to observe the kind of people we pray they will become must be part of our discipleship strategy.

Interested in learning more?

Last year I presented my case for children in worship at the Children Desiring God conference in a workshop entitled Let The Children Come To Me” in WorshipWorkshop Handout

My wife, Sally, also presented a workshop that offered several practical Strategies for Engaging Children in the Worship Service / Workshop Handout

David Michael

David is the co-founder and executive director of Truth78, a ministry connected with Desiring God. David and his wife, Sally, are longtime members of College Park Church, where David formerly served as a pastor and elder.

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