I heard this statement many times while growing up: "Children should be seen, and not heard." This could apply to many aspects of life, but it should never be the case in worship service. Proverbs 22:6 plainly says, "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it." We should be teaching or "training" our children to participate in worship services.
The older generation in the church finds joy in seeing and hearing the children pray, sing, and participate. When we fail to teach or to encourage our children to join in the worship service, we are robbing the older generation the joy and happiness of knowing that there will be a church of tomorrow. After all, that is what our children are. Many times, we bring things to occupy our children so they will be "quiet" during services. Instead of occupying our children, I am passionate that we can be training up our children in the church during services.
Ephesians 5:19 "... singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." We are commanded to sing. Encourage your child to sing. I cannot think of a more enjoyable sound than to hear a small child singing with the church. How can we expect them to want to sing when we have not trained them? Many older people will tell you it puts smiles on their faces and joy in their hearts to hear a child "sing with the spirit."
If PowerPoint is used in your church and your child cannot read, that is OK. Pick up a songbook and show him or her the words. Follow along with your fingers. It will not be long before your child will smile and say, "Mom and Dad, did you hear me sing?"
Teaching our children to pray is another area of worship we are commanded to do. This also starts when they are young. When teaching the two and three year olds I thought about this command. "How do you teach a child to pray?" I wondered. Much like our Lord did in Matthew 6:9-15, I gave them an example. Then, I let each of the children say a prayer. When one of them said, "I do not want to pray," I explained that it makes God very sad when His children do not want to talk to Him. Then I asked them, "How do you think it would make your Mom and Dad feel if you didn't want to talk to them?" It is very important to expect our children to pray in Bible class and at home. I can still remember one of my daughter's prayers at home, which went as follows: "Dear God, Thank you for listening to my prayer. Thank you for the chicken, the potatoes and the milk, and the carrots that I do not like but my Momma is going to make me eat them any way. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen." Wow, she had learned a valuable lesson! We should be thankful for everything. If we never train our children to pray, then how can we expect our children to pray when they are older and they need to?
The next area of worship service that is very important is attendance and giving back to the Lord. This falls back on us. We all know the importance of attending Bible classes and church services, but how often do we neglect gospel meetings or vacation Bible school? What excuses do we use? My child has school tomorrow ... It is too late ...They need their sleep ... They have piano lessons ... football practice ... etc. The list could go on forever.
Paul found joy in returning to the churches at Ephesus, Corinth, and Philippi. Our visiting speakers can take joy in seeing our children develop in the church when they visit. However, many times we deprive these people of that joy because they have never seen the children that we have. John 3:16 states, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." How can our Lord, visiting speakers, or the older generation have hope in tomorrow, unless we show them that there would be one? I understand that we cannot be at every service and every meeting all the time, but let us examine ourselves to see if we can be present more often than we are.
How can we expect our children to want to give themselves to the Lord when we have not shown them how to give themselves? Do not just bring your children to church; involve your children in worship service. In training our children to participate in worship service now, we are preparing them for what they will do in heaven. Loving your child means giving him or her back to the Lord.
Please ask yourselves, "Am I training my child to be the church of tomorrow?" If not, let us practice Proverbs 22:6: "Train up your child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." -PO Box 942, Hedgesville, WV 25427.
Return to West Virginia Christian