(from Monday June 06, 2005)I thought I'd reposted this but it got lost. Then I discovered it was still a draft. And as many times as I tried to repost, it didn't! Sorry! But let's try again (complete with Tyler's comment) because it's important.
There are a number of books out there to help churches include kids in worship - mostly aimed at established churches with separate children's programs. There are emerging churches and church plants working hard to include their kids in community life as much as possible without a separate "program" because they want the kids to grow up knowing that they belong to the larger community, expecially once they graduate from school. Surely there are established church communities with children's programs that have their children still walking with them as adults and bringing their own children. But for those of you who came through that particular system as children and opted out of it, know that in many new churches, things are changing
Some people like the option of childcare during worship, especially for toddlers and preschoolers. If you're offering childcare, you want the kids in your care to be comfortable, secure, well-cared for, and happy as an expression of the Father's love for them. But if you do an exceptional job and your childcare something that kids look forward to every week, a great childcare program competes with your efforts to include kids in worship.
It might help to ask, what's worship? Ultimately we're worshipping God - a separate multifaceted study and discussion - it even includes whatever our spiritual service of worship is that extends beyond the sanctuary. What if, in its simplist form, we ask - "what will please God?" How do we bless Him? Do we honor Him best as families or in our respective age groups?
It appears that in the OT the assemblies/the gathering of the people to worship and hear the scriptures included all ages. Some NT passages to ponder: Mt. 21:14-16, Mt. 11:25-30 and Mt. 19: 12-15. I don't think we're taking them out of context to examine them as we think about kids in worship. What about Mt. 23:27?
Some believe it's enough just for kids to be with us and be a part of the experience. Others believe it's important to share the experience in ways that enable kids, as well as adults, to relate and participate. Some opt for a separate children's program either at the same time as the worship service or at some other time during the week.
What are your thoughts and experiences? What are your questions and concerns, as leaders, as parents, as members of the community?
(c) 2005 Margie Hillenbrand