Why we value children’s participation in the entire worship service beginning with Kindergarten
“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”
2 TIMOTHY 3:14-15
Perhaps today more than any other time in American history, it is critical that children learn to love the Lord their God and firmly believe His commandments through the faithful testimony and teaching of their parents and spiritual guardians. As Moses exhorted the Israelite adults in preparation for entry into the Promised Land, this testimony must be a consistent visual and verbal expression of their love for the Lord with their whole heart, soul, and strength. Like those adults in Timothy’s childhood, parents and spiritual guardians have the opportunity to instill
lifelong confidence in what is learned and believed about Christ Jesus by displaying their enduring faith before their children.
At MacArthur Blvd Baptist Church, we want to clearly support and encourage you as you guide the children under your authority along the road of discipleship “for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” One facet of discipleship is living a Life of Worship, and we are identifying the corporate worship service as the primary environment outside of your home where you and your children will engage in the instruction and practice of worshiping our Lord and God.
By participating in the entire corporate gathering, children will be led to worship through prayer, worship through song, and worship through Bible teaching.
It has already been our practice in worship to regularly provide opportunities for children to both hear others pray as well as to pray alongside their family. Through these active experiences our sons and daughters are learning to ascribe specific attributes to God as a natural component of worship. They are learning that prayer is more dynamic than just asking from God; prayer is exalting and celebrating who God is and what He is doing.
Worshiping through music and singing aligns our emotions and affections with the Lord through the proclamation of godly truths. Whether or not our children hear beautiful singing from our lips or their own is not the primary point. Our children are learning that singing strongly and responding physically are normal, enjoyable means to display love for our God. They are experiencing the satisfaction of community praise as it can only be enjoyed in the fellowship of the diverse body of Christ.
Like worship through prayer and song, our children need to develop a connection to and a desire for worship through Bible teaching. As parents and spiritual guardians, we must help dispel two myths being communicated to our children: 1) worship ends when Bible teaching begins and 2) God’s Word is only important for adults. Both subtly and directly, we are in danger of training our sons and daughters to perceive worship through Bible teaching as irrelevant and boring. To avoid these pitfalls, we must intentionally and consistently lead the children under our care to personally interact with the teaching of God’s Word.
The weekly handout, Growing in Worship, is a tool made available to our children that’s intentionally designed to encourage their participation throughout the preaching portion of our corporate worship. Growing in Worship provides a colorful platform built to guide our early learners through listening and drawing and our emerging writers through listening and fill-in-the-blank responses. Journals are available for developed writers that are ready to take the final step of self-directed note taking.
Because the pastors value the presence of children in the Worship Gathering, they are diligent to provide preaching notes in advance for the weekly construction of Growing in Worship and onscreen notes for reference during the sermon. They are also cognizant of the young listeners in the audience as they lead us expositorally through the text.
Tips for Success
Growing in Worship is a tool for children that works best when parents actively guide its use. You can help your children with this teaching tool by modeling note taking using a format that works well for you; relate the notes you are taking to their notes to affirm or direct their progress during the service. You are also encouraged to verbally teach in the moment. We want all our parents to operate with the freedom to provide supportive instruction in the immediate context of worship. So we encourage your to freely do so in a volume and tone that is effective with your children while accounting for the atmosphere of worship for others. Our congregation regularly renews its commitment during Parent and Child Dedication to be a part of raising all the children of MacArthur Blvd “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4); they will show grace and support to those around them training their children to lovingly worship our God through His Word.
Intentionally and purposefully working together, our church and parents can cultivate a lifelong love for God manifested through genuine worship in the lives of our children. We can specifically battle a trend the church in America is experiencing where disconnected students and young adults are walking away from the Lord and His people. Instead, we can foster an environment where our children personally “taste and see that the LORD is good!” (Psalm 34:8) and desire to celebrate His goodness through a Life of Worship.