As we’ve discussed the idea of church nursery and children’s ministry, I wanted to restate something I mentioned in the comment section from a recent post: This issue is not about “right and wrong” as much as it is about “wise or not”. It’s not about attacking your church and its intentions, it’s about the challenge to think, possibly about positions you may haven’t thought of before.
I challenge you to ask questions.
“What is worship?” “How does age-segregation in the church affect the body?” “Does age-segregation hinder the ‘older teaching the younger’ model from Scripture?” “From whom do children learn to worship in spirit and in truth?”
These thoughts by John Piper are a beautiful and timely word for the discussion of family togetherness at church (excerpts only–full article can be read following the link):
“God-centered worship is supremely important in the life of our church. We approach the Sunday morning worship hour with great seriousness and earnestness and expectancy. We try to banish all that is flippant or trivial or chatty.
Stumbling block…The greatest stumbling block for children in worship is that their parents do not cherish the hour. Children can feel the difference between duty and delight. Therefore, the first and most important job of a parent is to fall in love with the worship of God. You can’t impart what you don’t possess.
Togetherness...Worshiping together counters the contemporary fragmentation of families. Hectic American life leaves little time for significant togetherness. It is hard to overestimate the good influence of families doing valuable things together week in and week out, year in and year out.
Catch the Spirit...Parents have the responsibility to teach their children by their own example the meaning and value of worship. Therefore, parents should want their children with them in worship so the children can catch the spirit and form of their parents’ worship.
Children should see how Mom and Dad bow their heads in earnest prayer during the prelude and other non-directed times. They should see how Mom and Dad sing praise to God with joy in their faces, and how they listen hungrily to His Word. They should catch the spirit of their parents meeting the living God.
Something seems wrong when parents want to take their children in the formative years and put them with other children and other adults to form their attitude and behavior in worship. Parents should be jealous to model for their children the tremendous value they put on reverence in the presence of Almighty God.
Not an excessive expectation…Children can be taught in the first five years of life to obey their father and mother when they say, “Sit still and be quiet.” Parents’ helplessness to control their children should not be solved by alternative services but by a renewal of discipline in the home..
Not all over their heads..Children absorb a tremendous amount that is of value….
Music and words become familiar. The message of the music starts to sink in. The form of the service comes to feel natural. The choir makes a special impression with a kind of music the children may hear at no other time. Even if most of the sermon goes over their heads, experience shows that children hear and remember remarkable things.
The content of the prayers and songs and sermon gives parents unparalleled opportunities to teach their children the great truths of our faith. If parents would only learn to query their children after the service and then explain things, the children’s capacity to participate would soar….
Sunday worship service is not useless to children just because much of it goes over their heads. They can and will grow into this new language faster than we think—if positive and happy attitudes are fostered by the parents.”