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Let the Children Worship

April 27 2018
April 27 2018

By

You don't have to worship at Faith for very long before you learn that our children (we call them, "Little Theologians" here) are never excused from our Sunday morning worship service. Ever.

Of course, we have an excellently-staffed nursery for children age four and younger, so dads and moms always have a choice. Not only that, parents are more than welcome to test the water by helping their children to stay through much of the service, then quietly escort them to the nursery later (or vice-versa).

Just to be clear, the squirming during the service, the quiet removal of Little Theologians, the noises and ocassional outbursts, etc., do not distract me at the pulpit. Not even remotely. I preach from a manuscript or a detailed outline, so a distraction only prompts me to focus a bit more on my manuscript; my eyes leave the congregation, but not for long.

However, our Little Theologians can be a distraction to fellow-worshippers. Dads and moms, please be aware of this. It is likely that your tolerance threshold for home will need to be slightly recalibrated for church. However, don't be too scrupulous. I say that because the people of God need to understand that they come to worship alongside others. Corporate worship is not private worship in the presence of others. Didn't Jean-Paul Sartre, in his play, "No Exit," say something like we all need to figure out how to sit in a coffee house, alone, with others?  Corporate worship is not worship alone, with others.

One of the books that we recommend to families is Robbie Castleman's, Parenting in the Pew: Guiding Your Children Into the Joy of Worship. This book is generally very practical in nature. Chapter 4, "Sunday morning starts on Saturday night," gives you the idea of the tenor of the author. For several years this book has been popular for churches like ours. You can find it in the Faith Bookstall in the foyer and you are welcome to take a copy.

A quick note for singles, couples without children, empty-nesters, and parents of especially adult-like Little Theologians: hang in there. I understand that tolerating other people's Little Theologians during a worship service can be a challenge. Let me leave you some food for thought. Many of you look at the youth of America and, like the maître d' at Chez Quis, weep for the future. There is no doubt that the American cultural landscape is less religous and more defiantly anti-Christian than perhaps ever before. Let's do our little part, then, and help our Little Theologians grow into zealous lovers of the Gospel of Jesus through weekly Lord's Day worship (see the last chapter of Castleman's book).

PCA pastor, Jason Helopoulos,writes in a new book, Let the Children Worship,

"We recognize the benefit of steering our children clear of harmful things -- disobedient friends, busy streets, uncovered electrical outlets, and R-rated movies. Why wouldn't we equally desire to steer our children towards beneficial things -- the read and preached Word, corporate prayer, and the sacraments? Steering them away from the means of death is good, steering them towards the means of life is even better."

However, logic is insufficient; we need to lean upon God's revealed Word.

The book by Castleman pairs nicely with the book by Helopoulos; while the former is practical, the latter elevates a biblical theology of worship. Helopoulos reminds us that the Bible describes humans as being made for worship, that the people of the wilderness worshipped in a setting in which children were welcome and expected to remain welcome (Ex. 13.8; Dt. 16.11, 14-15). This was assumed by the prophet Joel (Joel 2.16), who then goes on to introduce the New Covenant (Joel 2.28-32). This is precisely the point: the covenant promises of God always had room for children; simply compare Gen. 17.7 and Acts 2.38-39. Jesus made the same assumption in not only Mark 10.14 when He welcomes them, but also in his miracles that show a regard for children like the daughter of Jairus (Mk. 5.21-43), the little boy tormented by an evil spirit (Mk 9.14-29; Lk. 9.37-43), and the official's son (Jn. 4.46-54). Furthermore, we should be challenged by the many instances in Revelation where John sees gathered worshippers that seem to include theologians both great and "small" (Rev. 11.18; 19.5; 20.12).

So, let's let our Little Theologians join us in corpporate worship!



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