1. It is appropriate for children to be included in the corporate worship gatherings of the church.
- Children have a capacity to serve the Lord (cf. 1 Sam 2:18).
- The people worshipped as one man in the days of Ezra (cf. Neh 8:3).
- NT worship assumes an intergenerational gathering (cf. Eph 5-6).
2. It is good for families to sit together in worship.
It is good for children to see their parents worshipping. Children understand that they and their family are not alone in the faith. It also provides a corporate witness. We see children as a blessing and not a burden (cf. Psalms 127-128).
3. Children need training in how to behave during worship services.
The Christian view is that children are a blessing and that they are stamped with the image of God. But it also recognizes that children are sinners who need guidance, instruction, and correction (cf. Proverbs 13:24; 19:18; 22:15; 29:17).
4. It is good for children to develop the disciplines of obedience and self-control.
Asking a child to sit quietly during a worship service is valuable for many reasons. First, children usually learn more than we give them credit. Second, even if they gain little in factual knowledge they learn other things. They learn obedience. They learn self-control. They learn that some occasions call for formality and reverence. Finally, they learn that not all things in life are designed primarily to suit them.
5. It is good for families with small children to be mindful of the needs of others in the worship service.
The key verse is Romans 12:10: "Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another."
I see two believers coming to a door in an eternal stalemate. One says, "After you." And the other says, "No after you." Each puts a priority on serving the other.
Parents will be mindful of how others (particularly those without children, like singles and older persons) might be distracted by what, for them, is normal.
6. It is good for the congregation to be patient and understanding of the needs of those with small children.
Those without children, likewise, will be especially understanding, patient, and supportive of the needs of families with children.
7. It is good for parents to take practical steps in training their children:
- Talk with children about what your expectations are for their behavior during corporate worship.
- Before you come into worship, take your child to the bathroom and explain that he will not be allowed to get up unless it is an extreme emergency.
- Model proper behavior in your own attitude and actions.
- Help your children participate in the service. Examples: Holding a hymn book together, standing, praying, reading, etc.
- Encourage older children to take notes on the sermon.
- Train proper behavior in family worship.
- Discuss the worship service over Sunday lunch or throughout the week.
Note: Evangel 2.11.09.