2. They’re present in the midst of the whole congregation.
Corporate worship is corporate; the entire body gathers. As the congregation sings, all the voices of the church unite. When God’s people read the confession of faith, they confess the same truth in unity. When God’s people hear the public prayers, they voice a loud “Amen” together. Children benefit from witnessing and participating in this unity.
Children pay special attention to their parents. They learn by observing their parents and discerning what their parents deem important and what gives them delight. Bringing our children into worship lets them observe the importance and delight of corporate worship in the life of their parents. If they aren’t in worship, they won’t ever see that delight, and few things have greater effect on our children’s spiritual lives.
Children learn from their parents and the rest of the congregation, but they also set an example for the covenant community. When Jesus blesses the children, he says: “For to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it” (Mark 10:14–15). Many consider children a distraction in corporate worship, but in Christ’s eyes, they’re an example.
3. They’re present in the midst of God’s story.
The Bible clearly articulates the duty of parents to instruct their children in the things of the Lord. Psalm 78 provides one of the most beautiful statements of this calling. Asaph reminds his generation that they must pass on the glorious story of their faith to their kids. We tell this story each Lord’s Day morning as we gather—and as our children participate in the worship, they hear this story. They can’t miss it.
Our children take part in the practices of the covenant community, which picture God’s mighty acts and his relationship with his covenant people. They enter the great academy of the Christian faith. We teach, instruct and form our children into worshipers. Of course, only God can call people to himself and make hearts of stone into hearts of flesh (Ezek. 36:26), but participating in the worship of God shapes our children.
Our children also learn that God is for them. When we include children in worship, we communicate that they can worship the one true God. Christianity isn’t an adults-only religion, and worship isn’t adults-only either. God calls on all people to worship. When we exclude our children from worship, we communicate that the things of God and his story aren’t for them.
Let’s Nourish Them
My kids love candy, so I never need to encourage them to eat candy. Vegetables present another story, but my wife and I labor to see them eat vegetables daily. Why? We do so because we know the benefits that flow from eating them. The fiber, vitamins and nutrients found in vegetables encourage us to fight the good fight of getting a little green in their diet.
We know the benefits from such a diet could influence their lives for the next 20, 40, 60 or even 80 years. It’s worth the struggle. And the benefits that flow from including our children in corporate worship can affect their lives not just for 80 years, but for eternity. If green beans and broccoli are worth the struggle, a season or two of difficulty in the pew is more than worth it.
Editors’ note: This is an adapted excerpt from Jason Helopoulos’s book Let the Children Worship (Christian Focus, 2016).
This article originally appeared here.