Going to Church or Going to Worship: March Note from Dri

Going to Church or Going to Worship

Am I teaching my children to “go to church” or am I teaching them to “go to worship?” At First Pres, children are welcomed and encouraged to participate in the worship service each week. Our Young Children’s Worship time for Preschoolers is only during the sermon time in order that they can participate in as much of the service as possible because we believe that time in the congregation is incredibly important for their spiritual growth. If our goal is for our children to develop into spiritually mature adults, they have to learn the vernacular and posture of mature Christian adults. Someone has to show them how to do it. They have to witness people living that out, because, as they say, “more is caught than taught.”

Now, I will be the first to admit, being a parent in the service with young children can be challenging. I can easily default to keeping my children quiet and busy so that I can worship, rather than leading by example and showing them how to worship. In the book Parenting in the Pew, Robbie says, “Going to worship requires a life transformation and happens out of a new heart, not an old habit. Going to church can be nothing more than smart time management with good intentions. It may not have much at all to do with worship.”

Teaching our children to worship is more than teaching them to be quiet and listen. It’s helping them to participate in the service of worship. And it is service because it requires effort both on their part, and ours. Sometimes it means picking up a distracted preschooler to sing with them in our arms. Sometimes it means redirecting our 2nd grader to the words on the page that we’re saying together. It means explaining words and concepts after, and even during service. And that is ok, and even encouraged! This congregation has taken vows to support and nurture our children as they learn the rhythms of worship, and we understand that sometimes that training comes with noise. You won’t receive dirty looks, but rather knowing smiles, from the parents who’ve been there before, and who are there now. Children in our service means life in our midst.

It also means continuing the conversation at home. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says, “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” First learn why we do the things we do (see the “What’s the Deal” in the bulletin each week, and submit your own!) and then explain them to our children. Our liturgy is rich with meaning! Practice the elements, like the Lord’s Prayer or the Apostle’s Creed at home, or make a playlist of the hymns we’ve been singing. And don’t forget to see the March newsletter for Hannah’s list of new hymns so your children can become familiar with them ahead of time.

If you’d like more information on training children for worship, contact Dri for a copy of Parenting in the Pew.