We pulled into our driveway exhausted. Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest, but this morning felt like anything but. It was tiring not because of an early start with a meeting before church, the dressing of children, rushing out the door, conversations after the service or even the disheartening news about a church member’s diagnosis. We were exhausted because our two kids couldn’t sit still or quiet in the worship service. It felt like we’d experienced a tour of combat duty without any medals.
The hour-and-a-half service could’ve been four hours with all the negotiations, warnings and discipline that were required. The sermon consisted of three points, and between the two of us, my wife and I could recall one.
Unfortunately, this week wasn’t unique. Hadn’t we just performed this seven days ago? Hadn’t we worked with our children each day since, so that this week’s worship would be better than last week’s catastrophe? Was it all for nothing?
In the early days of bringing young children into worship, it can feel like self-inflicted torture with no end in sight. But as much as it may prove a struggle, the effort is worth it. Church services provide numerous opportunities for blessing. Here are three.
1. They’re present in the midst of the means of grace.
The most important part of a local church’s life is corporate worship, because in the weekly worship the Lord uniquely meets with his people by his Word and Spirit. He ministers to us by the ordinary means of grace. Churches and parents can chase after innovative programming to influence their kids, but corporate worship is what the all-wise God has ordained.
These ordinary means of grace are effective for everyone, including children. The more we place kids in the way of them, the more opportunities they have for their souls to encounter the God of grace.
God attaches promises to his Word.
The Word does not return void (Isa. 55:11). It’s at work as we hear it read and preached. It’s living and active, sharper than a sword (Heb. 4:12), and it alone sparks faith (Rom. 10:17). We want our children to hear it proclaimed with power.
The sacraments are visual presentations of spiritual truths.
We can see, taste, smell and feel the realities of God’s grace. This fact isn’t lost on our children as they see these sacraments practiced. The children of Israel asked their parents while they participated in the Passover, “What does this mean?” (Exod. 13:14; Deut. 6:20). In a similar way, our children will have questions about what they see and hear. We answer by pointing them to a Savior who willingly died for his own.
Prayer shapes and aligns our hearts with the will of God.
As our children bow their heads and listen to the congregational prayer or the prayer of confession, they can’t help but hear of truth and grace. It’s beautiful when they eventually join in.
It’s important for kids to participate in the corporate worship every week. The constant routines of our life possess a formative power, and children who attend church every week will be formed by the means of grace.