From Creation, everything was designed to worship the Lord. Worship was purposed to mirror the communal nature of the Triune God in that it is a corporate affair. Understanding the way God worships and glorifies Himself informs how the church, God’s family, is also supposed to worship; not as individuals in a self-seeking experience, but as people coming together knowing God has saved us into a family to glorify Him. It is then right for the church to see that worship is a family affair. This is why Grace Church will be moving to a Sunday Service structure change to include children in all elements of worship. You may read more about this change here.
We are all obligated to engage the lost (children) and make disciples of Christ Jesus together.
The family affair in worship stems from our desire to have entire families, kids included, in our corporate worship services. This is a great opportunity for parents to lead their kids in praising and submitting to Christ as our Head. Discipleship of kids through observation of God’s people and teaching from Elders is only a continuation of the discipleship that happens in the home, but something we still want to emphasize to a heightened degree. Simply having children in our corporate worship services allows children that know Jesus to grow in intimacy with Him while giving those that do not know Him the opportunity to learn by watching the Body worship our Savior and sit under the teaching of the Word.
Discipling our kids, even during Sunday services, is also a family affair in which the entire Body of Christ is called to commit bringing up children in the gospel. When the family of God walks around these nuclear families to disciple kids, we remind one another and those around us that the gospel’s call to unity and to Jesus far outweighs our individualistic culture/preference for a smooth church service. As a single person without kids, I know I am no less responsible for raising up the children the Lord has placed in my forever family. We are all obligated to engage the lost (children) and make disciples of Christ Jesus together as members of one another.
Corporate worship means we can genuinely proclaim He is worthy of us surrendering everything to Him —even gatherings that are rough around the edges.
Shifting to having children in our services will be messy. It may often be ugly. We fully expect this. At the same time, there is beauty in the church embracing and inviting children into worshipping our God. Corporate worship means we can genuinely proclaim He is worthy of us surrendering everything to Him —even gatherings that are rough around the edges.
As Grace implements kids being in our services, here are a few tools that might aid our corporate worship:
1. Reassure parents that we are in this work together.
Parents of squirming, loud, or disruptive children are hyperaware that the behavior of their child is not going unnoticed. Encourage them, verbally and with reaffirming gestures, that there is no cause to worry or feel shame. Let us celebrate parents’ obedience in discipling their kids. Remind them of the Lord’s faithfulness to equip His church and of how He is a far better discipler than any of us every could be.
Sunday services is a family affair in which the entire Body of Christ is called to commit bringing up children in the gospel.
2. Build relationships with children.
Before or after the service, or even during the greeting time, greet children and ask how they are doing. Make eye contact with them, asking their name, and letting them know you are glad to have them in the service. Parents feel cared for when you care for their children. Ask to take a child in your community group to get ice-cream or go to the park. It is to a child’s benefit to further be surrounded by those walking with Jesus outside of their parents.
3. Love with perseverance.
We know some kids are not the easiest to love. They may be shy or introverted, and may not respond well to you trying to build relationships with them. Don’t be offended or apathetic, but keep pressing into the child. Trust that parents are working on the social abilities with their children.
4. Know your role.
For those who are single or married without kids (newlyweds or empty nesters), think of yourself as another Uncle or Aunt that is committed to raising up the children God has placed in your family. If you have a relationship with a family, offer to hold their baby in the back of the service so they can listen to the sermon. Sit next to their children to maintain crowd control and to be an example of a worshipful listener and participator.
For those who are married, know when and where to correct your child or when it may be needed to leave the service. Feel freedom to ask for help and invite others into the process of developing healthy spiritual disciplines in your children’s lives. Prepare your children of your expectations before you arrive to the church building. Instruct them how they should act, that you will use the bathroom before the service, to say hello when someone is talking to them, and provide materials for them to take notes or draw pictures from things they hear during the sermon.
Ross Rohlmeier is an International Church Planting Resident at Grace, and is passionate about equipping the church to engage in domestic and foreign missions. At the end of his residency, he aspires to plant churches overseas.