Four reasons why children belong in worship
by Virginia Callegary
Many worship services at First Presbyterian Church are attended by families with children of all ages. Bringing children to worship can be challenging to the parent or guardian who accompanies the child as well as the congregation. Children are naturally loud, wiggly, and dramatically joy (or sorrow) -filled.
Here are a few reasons why we should consider welcoming children an opportunity and a blessing instead of a challenge.
1. Children learn to worship by worshiping.
Children don’t learn to worship in classrooms or at fellowship time. Children don’t even learn to worship in Sunday school or at VBS, though both are still valuable experiences. The rhythms, prayers, words, songs, behavior and postures of worship are learned by doing and by observing others.
2. When children are present in worship the entire community is blessed, and worship is enriched.
Just as children learn worship behaviors from adults, adults can also learn from the joyful worship of children. Their experience of God, and therefore worship, is different from that of adults. They move around, sing too loudly, and ask seemingly obvious questions. There is not one correct way to worship and children in our midst help remind us of that.
3. It’s what Jesus would do.
We are called by Jesus to welcome the children among us. In Mark 10:13-16 Jesus becomes indignant when the disciples try to prevent the children from coming to him. Jesus sternly admonishes the disciples to not keep the children from him because the kingdom of God belongs to them.
4. We made a promise at their baptism.
The congregation promises “to guide and nurture [the child] by word and deed, with love and prayer, encouraging them to know and follow Christ and to be faithful members of his church” (Presbyterian Book of Common Worship, p. 406). What better way to encourage children to follow Christ than to stand with them in worship and teach them by example how to thank and praise God with prayer, music, study and service?
We encourage children and their families to feel comfortable in worship but we also acknowledge that having children present is not always possible or practical. The Nursery is always staffed during worship but is also available for nursing mothers or diaper changes. The Commons is also a useful place to step away from worship while still being able to see and hear.
If you have an idea for how to make children and their families feel more welcome in worship feel free to speak with me, another staff member or a member of Session.