A Word to Parents of Young Children From Our Pastor
I am writing to encourage you not to miss an important opportunity. Bring your child with you to the Sunday morning worship service. We are aware that many churches have a separate worship service for children (six years old and older). I am not writing to criticize nor deny that these services have their own unique advantages. But worshiping together for eighty minutes is one of the best things this side of heaven you and your children can do together.
If your family is like most, you do not spend enough time together. You probably need to be cutting out some of the things that already impinge on your time to be with your children. Of all the things that it is wonderful to do together, nothing is of greater value than worship.
This is your time to express the deepest values of your life. Your children need to see YOU doing that. Loving God. Singing to the Lord. Bowing in prayer with others seeking Him. Opening the Bible and carefully reading it along with others. Sensing the movement of God’s Spirit among His church. Trusting and giving and seeking God.
You know that most of values your children will learn from you will not come from the “lectures” but from what they see in you. Please, do not rob them of seeing you delight in the Lord.
“They don’t understand what’s going on.”
Because they don’t understand it all or even very much, doesn’t mean you can’t use their questions to teach. Talking about something said or experienced in the worship every week, immediately following the service will be one of your best opportunities to teach your child more about God.
You will be amazed over time at how much they are absorbing. Even when they are wiggling and bored and childish, God’s Word is getting through. Phrases and concepts are becoming familiar. Lyrics full of truth they don’t yet comprehend but one day will, are being memorized.
Certainly we try to include a few key things every Sunday service that children can directly relate to. But they are learning through it all.
Noted Pastor John Piper has said:
. . . . to learn a new language you can go step by step from alphabet to vocabulary to grammar to syntax. Or you can take a course where you dive in over your head, and all you hear is the language you don’t know. Most language teachers would agree that the latter is by far the most effective. 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. A Sense of Awe There is a sense of solemnity and awe which children should experience in the presence of God. This is not likely to happen in children’s church.
“My child can’t be still and I don’t want to disturb other.”
Learning to sit still and be quiet for the period of a worship service is something your child can do. Does it require discipline? Yes. Should all of our time or even most of it be this way for them. No. But this is a skill they do need to have.
Maybe I should say, this is a skill every parent needs to develop. For reasons that run deep, it is critical that we lovingly insist that our children respectively submit to our authority as their parents.
I know few parents who do this perfectly. I certainly know Terri and I didn’t get it all right. But church was one of the places we got to work on it. Avoiding that issue will not help anyone.
We have said to our church, that while we expect children to learn to behave appropriately in worship, it is a learning process. We are a family of faith and we are all in it together. We are more than willing to sacrifice a completely “distraction free” enviorment for the sake of supporting our parents who are diligently leading their children to develop these new skills.
“I need some practical helps.”
We have brochure available at our Welcome Center in the lobby that offers exactly that. Stop by and ask for one.
-Pastor Frank Ellis