Many of us have memories as children of attending church. I can remember as a child sitting in Transfiguration Roman Catholic Church Sunday mornings as the priest progressed through the mysterious Latin liturgy. I had no clue what he was saying and often asked my mother when that man up front would stop talking. After being shushed, I sometimes fell asleep to the rhythm and cadence of the Latin phrases. Only the ringing of the bells by the altar boys startled me awake. But despite my difficulties with understanding, I would occasionally look at the adults gathered there and realized that this assembly seemed serious. They were not bored like I was and they seemed to derive some meaning and even benefit from the service.
I believe I learned some valuable lessons even at that young age. I learned that families worshipped together.
Now some might say I was too young to understand and really did not learn anything, but I believe I learned some valuable lessons even at that young age. I learned that families worshipped together. For instance, I sat between my mother and my annoying brother when he was not serving as an altar boy. I also learned that Sunday was a special day and each week had its own rhythm with the first day of the week starting with worship. I saw that I belonged to a wider group of people of all ages and sizes who gathered together for worship, and eventually I even learned to be quiet and listen to the homily (in English) by the priest. These basic habits of worship prepared me well for the time I began to understand spiritual things and trust in Christ for salvation.
Biblical worship is meant to be multi-generational and is beautifully portrayed as God’s people worship together as a community. In worship, as in everything else, parents and other adults set the example for their children.
Assuming that the 9 AM hour is reserved for Bible School instruction, I encourage parents to bring their children to the 11 AM service if they are not already doing so. According to Nehemiah 8, children should join worship as soon as they are able to understand the significance of the service. Tenth provides a nursery for babies and toddlers who are not always quiet in public and noisy children should be removed as a consideration to other worshipers. However, all of us need to come alongside young families to encourage them in worship. By about the age of three, children should begin sitting with their parents for at least part of the service.
For children, attending worship should be accompanied by some basic teaching about what happens during the service, such as what Tenth provides through its Praisemakers worship training programs for children ages 4 through 2nd grade. These programs explore the various elements of worship and explain them in detail to the children.
Worship can also be modeled through family worship at home with Bible stories, prayer and singing. Even young children can learn regular elements of worship such as the Doxology, Gloria Patri, and the Apostles’ Creed. Of course, children cannot be expected to understand everything, but as they are exposed to worship the Spirit of God will be at work in their minds and hearts.
Corporate worship is a critical feature in the spiritual lives of children as they grow older, which is why the Senior Minister and Director of Music regularly visits the opening exercises of the Bible School to teach a basic outline of the sermon and rehearse the opening hymn to be sung in the worship service. This prepares children to participate meaningfully in public worship- a privilege and joy of which no covenant child should be deprived.
The same foundations that were laid by our parents are now in our hands to build upon. The many spiritual blessings we enjoy as a congregations are due, in part, to the sacrifices, prayers, faithful support, and attendance to the word of God that previous generations here practiced. Let’s build on that foundation so the next generation can see and know the delights of corporate worship.
© 2020 Tenth Presbyterian Church.
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Pat Canavan. © 2020 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org