I'd Like You to Meet My Children"
you ever thought seriously as to why we attend church? Do we go because it is
the right thing to do, a good way to start the week, because it is a good time
to see our friends and we like the music? Going to church is the right thing to
do. However, worship is the right reason. |
Worship does not come naturally
to us. Just as God had to train the people of Israel, He continues to instruct
us as to how we should worship and how we should teach our children to worship.
The Bible says, "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he
will not depart from it."
Each day parents teach their children to make
their beds, pick up their toys, swing a bat, throw a ball, ride a bicycle, figure
out fractions, and so on. All of these mentioned areas are important in growth,
however, isn't worshipping God to be at the top of the list? Dr. James Dobson
has written in Dr. Dobson Answers Your Questions, that spiritual training is important
and gives his readers a twenty-eight point checklist of questions for parents.
The two checklist questions concerning church/worship are as follows:
need guidance and help (instructional materials) to teach their children about
church. These instrutional materials must give information on how to teach your
child how to worship and why it is necessary to learn how to worship. The information
should not just lessen the stress of an hour in the pew.
your child learning to behave properly in church - in God's house?
your child learning to keep the Sabbath day holy?
in the Pew, by Robbie Castleman is an excellent source for couples who were
in the B.C. stage of their lives and have now entered the A.D. stage of life.
In case you are confused ... B.C. stands for "before children" and A.D. stands
for "after diapers." Mrs. Castleman's book is quick reading and relates to all
parents in the A.D. stage of life.
Mrs. Castlemand states, "Parenting
in the pew can be a hot battle or a holy triumph of grace. It can consist of whispered
commands: 'be quiet,' 'shhhh,' or it can contain the most intimate moments of
life with God's family together in his presence. Sunday morning with children
in the pew can be the longest hour of the week, or it can provide the very best
preparation for eternal joy."
Teaching your children to worship, parenting
in the pew, is entering the house of your heavenly Father and saying, "Daddy,
I would like you to meet my children." Worship is seeing your Father's smile.
Start teaching your children to worship each Sunday. Show them the bulletin
and help them work their way through it as they learn when to stand and sit and
how to say the Lord's Prayer. Help them follow the words of the hymns and responses.
Teach them that worship on Sunday is when we give back to God, and show Him that
we are proud to be called His children.
B.C. and A.D."
now, I'm sure it is evident to most of us who have children that worship B.C.
is quite different from worship A.D. Worship before children dealt only with ourselves
and God. Worship after diapers now deals with active children who want to know
everything at once and want to be active while they are learning about this God
who loves them. Have you ever said, "I used to get more out of church before I
had kids." |
We need to reconsider this statement and realize that the bigger
issue is, What does God get from our worship? We read in the Psalms, "Bless the
Lord, O my soul!" But how often do we really mean "Bless my soul, O Lord!" When
we are intent on blessing God, the expectations of worship are met. Encountering
the Lord, meeting Jesus, hearing God's voice, and knowing God all fall into place.
If we do not grow with our children from B.C. to A.D., we may feel that
our children are infringing on our worship experience. However, children do not
have to interfere with God's experience of worship. We neeed to remember that
worship is first and foremost a blessing to God, and He values the praise and
the presence of children.
Since we have looked at what worship is... maybe
we should look at what worship is not. In Robbie Castleman's book Parenting
in the Pew she states:
should be a challenge demanding all that we have, being given to our Maker. However
we need to be aware that worship with children may be even more challenging.
is not a refueling to get us through another week.
is not a system of traditions built up over many years of congregational life
until everyone feels comfortable.
is not a time to unwind, relax, tune out or take a mental vacation.
is not an hour of Christian entertainment.
is not what makes us good people, faithful Christians or successful parents. Worship
is surrender of our souls to a God who is jealous for our attention, time and
God has never given up on us...so, He expects us to persevere with our children
right beside us in the pew, praising God with all of their might, as we set the
example for them.
Encourage your children to participate in all the areas
of worship. Standing, singing, praying, reciting, receiving blessings or communion
and going in peace to serve the Lord, should be our utmost challenge each Sunday.
Director of Christian Education
and Smell the Roses When You Worship"
you ever watched a child smell a flower? The flower is not just placed near the
nose ... the nose and cheeks are totally pressed into the flower. This experience
is done with such intensity that we as adults find it amusing. As adults we sometimes
tend to take that same flower for granted ... or look at it as everyday or mundane.
The child needs to experience it totally through touch, smell, taste and sight
with an inquisitive enthusiasm that makes God's heart leap for joy. This is what
He had hoped for in the Garden of Eden. God wanted someone who would be enthusiastic
about spending time with Him without it being mandated. |
When we worship
God, He wishes for each of us to have "owned-for-myself" faith ... not "borrowed
faith." Children want to encounter God. They want to hear God speak back to them
when they pray. They want to know about the faith of those around them. Children
have such a delightful faith and a fervent love for God because they don't take
time to analyze and dissect God's love for them. The are able to accept His love
and grace at face value.
We need children in the pews in our worship services.
They remind us visually and audibly of what it means to be great believers. Participation
in every syllable of the service is of major importance in training children to
worship. Children are often leaders in boldly approaching the throne of grace.
Their knowledge of God's presence among us can often surprise those of us who
are most skeptical.
There is no magical age as to when we begin to encounter
our Creator. Children experience God's love the moment their parents see them
for the first time. We love them because God loved us first. The cycle continues
without hesitation. We bring our children into God's house as soon as we can and
they begin to experience His love from those of us who become their church family.
We need to remember that when we participate in each child's baptism we take a
vow to help this child experience God's love for them every time they enter the
doors of Christ Lutheran Church.
In their book Resident Aliens: Life
in the Christian Colony, Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon affirm the
wisdom of including children in the worship and work of he kingdom. They state:
"In many of our modern, sophisticated congregations, children are often viewed
as distractions. We tolerate chidlren to the extent they promise to become "adults"
like us. Adult members sometimes complain that they cannot pay attention to the
sermon, they cannot listen to the beautiful music, when fidgety children are beside
them in the pews. Isn't it interesting that Jesus took a child and put him in
the midst of his disciples in order to help them pay attention? If you remember,
the disciples tried to send the children away and Jesus told them not to."
need to remember that children help us pay attention to what God is really saying,
and parents you are the best people to teach our children here at Christ Church
what it means to worship God. Our children are a symbol of God's kingdom, and
we need to remember this each time we enter through the church doors.
Director of Christian Education
Are Called to Worship!"
is preventing our children from being practitioners of active worship? One of
the biggest challenges as parents is training children to concentrate while we
are worshipping God and making them part of it. When something in worship is different
or unusual, it tends to hold a child's attention - this could be instrumental
music, a special choir anthem, or an illustration that is done in a children's
In the society in which we live, entertaintment has become a standard
part of what Americans expect for education. The one thing that we must not lose
track of is that worship in the form of entertainment will not accelerate the
spiritual growth of our children. We need to keep worship as the one realm where
culture does not influence how we learn.
God is specific as to how we
worship. First and foremost we need to teach our children that when they come
into God's presence, that it is to be done with respect and reverence. God said..."Be
still and know that I am God."
Our children are acutely aware of spiritual
needs. They realize when they need to be forgiven and when they need to forgive.
They are aware of feeling uncomfortable when they break a promise. They have experienced
the "I'll never do that again" variety of repentance. Children need to know
for themselves whether Jesus Loves Me is for real, or just a song.
is no match for worship. We need to teach our children that entertainment fills
up our time...but, worship fits us for eternity. Sometimes we need to assign responsibility
in order to teach our children to be responsible. Let your child bring their favorite
stuffed animal to church with the stipulation that they must teach their stuffed
animal to pay attention in church and learn how to worship God in a respectful
and a reverent manner.
Director of Christian Education
a Joyful Noise"
day, many years ago I was listening to my first born who was about 18 month old
sing "Jesus Love Me." Her version went like this ... Jesus loves me this I know
for Brenda and the Bible tell me so. Her Sunday School teacher from birth to that
very moment had been the Pastor's wife. If I had not realized it before, I knew
at that moment, that we begin teaching our children about their faith and God's
love the first moment we bring them into God's house. When we start our children
into a routine of coming to God's house from the moment that they are born, we
give them a gift that was purchased for them 2,000 years ago by a loving God who
was willing to sacrifice His Son in order for our children and ourselves to live
with him eternally. |
Children laugh, cry, call out, wiggle, squirm, turn
around in the pew to see who is behind them, show us what they are doing, and
basically want to see if we are noticing that they are made in the image of God.
Jesus was very explicit when He said that we are to become as children in order
to enter the Father's kingdom. We need their faith and their joy. We need their
enthusiasm and giddiness. We need their eyes that sparkle and dance. We need their
smiles that light up the world. Unless we teach them otherwise...these are all
the things that children experience when we tell them about a loving God.
God is not just and adult experience. The truth of the matter is that we, as adults,
become so set in our ways in worship that we are apt to become very annoyed when
our worship is disturbed. Do we remember what it was like for us as a child when
we first tried to sing a hymn out of the hymnal and the music and the words went
by so fast that we couldn't begin to keep up? Parents, encourage your children
to sing la, la, la until they can keep up with the adults. God is pleased by their
enthusiasm to praise Him. Children will pick up the refrain because it is repeated
over and over. God is waiting to hear that joyful noise each Sunday as we enter
His courts with praise and thanksgiving.
When children are baptized into
the Christ Lutheran Church family we make a promise to each of them and their
parents and God to help these children learn about the God who made them and loves
them and to teach them how to worship Him. Now is the time to reach down into
our hearts and find our inner child and start to begin to relate to the children
around us in the pews. A smile or a nod of the head when they do something in
worship that is giving God His praise will go a long way in helping our children
enter into God's house with joy and thanksgiving, and will encourage them to make
a joyful noise and come before His presence with singing.
of Christian Education