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Children In Church – Thoughts

Since this Sunday is a Communion Sunday and the children will remain in the service, I would like to share some thoughts on this topic.

It has been a number of months since we began the tradition of keeping our children in for the entire service on Communion Sundays. This has been a new experience for most of us, and I think it has been a great experience for our children and for the congregation as a whole. While it has provided parents with additional opportunities for discipling their children, we would be ignorant to say that it has always been easy. As I mentioned, this is new to almost all of us; therefore, we are all learning how to “disciple in the pew.” In many ways, through the grace of God, we are learning by trial and error. As a congregation, we are learning how to teach our children to worship the Lord not only through song and prayer but also through the teaching of the Word.

This whole topic has been on my mind over the last three or four months, and as I was reading “Parenting by God’s Promises,” I came across this passage under the category Seize Opportunities for Teaching; I thought it was worth sharing.

“We should make good use of the means of grace dispensed in public worship… For example, if there is a baptism in church on a Sunday morning, we can talk to our children afterward about the meaning of baptism and our part in the covenant as baptized people. Likewise, we can use open-ended questions to find out what our children learned from the sermon and other parts of the service. What part of the service meant the most to them that day, and why?  Do you remember what Psalms were sung? What special needs did the minister bring to God in the prayers? Did they remember to bring a gift along to put in the collection for the benevolent fund or for world missions? We need to generate discussion about these things. If our children know we will be asking questions about the sermon and the other parts of the service, they will get in the habit of paying close attention to what is going on”.

I have taken some time to think through what the author had to say, and here are some of my thoughts.

First and foremost,we as parents we are teaching our children how to listen. We are teaching them that when they go to church they are to be actively participating and listening to what is taking place. If we want this for our child, then we must “inspect what we expect.” We must be asking open-ended questions about the different parts of the service and what was taught. As adults at Emmaus, we do this every week. You know that at your Gospel Community Group you will be asked certain questions about the sermon; therefore, it motivates you to pay careful attention to it. This sort of conversation can easily take place on the ride home from church or in a more formal setting throughout the week.

Second, teaching our children to actively listen doesn’t necessarily mean they will understand what is being taught, and that is okay. As our children grow, their understanding of the subject matter will increase.  Regardless of our child’s maturity or cognitive ability, they are never too young to be developing their skills to actively watch, listen, and think about what is taking place.

Third, as parents we have the privilege and opportunity to use the sermon as a tool to further disciple our children at home. For those who have older children, you can continue the discussion or further study the topics that were introduced in the sermon. For those with elementary age children, you can provide more clarity or more age-appropriately explain the main points of the sermon. For those with even younger children, you could extend the conversation and provide instruction based on their simple observations.

While God has given parents the primary responsibility to disciple their children, it is an endeavor that requires a “body” of support.  It would be a blessing to hear from others on how they are using the Sunday service to help disciple their children in the Lord.

God bless,

-Phil

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"Him we proclaim,
warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom,
that we may present everyone mature in Christ."
(Colossians 1:28, ESV)

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