There are many good reasons to provide an age-appropriate worship experience for kids at church. Here are a few of them:
- The teaching time can be designed to be at the level of the understanding of children.
- The room can be set up with visuals that are age specific.
- The songs can be selected to be the right key and with lyrics that children understand.
- There can be activities to enhance learning that are not possible in the large worship time.
- Parents can attend a worship service without the distraction of caring for their kids.
There are more reasons than these and I understand why many churches choose to do this. But I’m convinced that isolating children from their parents in worship on a regular basis also creates challenges in the spiritual development process. In those models, children may not associate worship as something their family does together. The ongoing spiritual conversation that families should be having is interrupted by separate experiences at church. They learn by imitation. When we isolate them from their parents, we are removing the most important example they have on their spiritual journey. The children are not the only ones who can lose here. Parents learn so much about their own faith in the journey of passing it to their children.
What if, rather than being a burden, sitting with your children in worship can be seen as a great privilege and opportunity to teach and train your children? What if churches spent more time and energy equipping parents to shepherd their kids well in worship instead of “rescuing” parents from their kids by providing a separate experience?
What if dads took the responsibility of demonstrating how to worship to their children as seriously as they do the job of teaching them to swim? Or catch a ball? What if moms embraced the responsibility of modeling prayer and praise for their children in the corporate setting of worship as much as how to study for a test?
I’ve observed this for years – A child will learn more about worship in a single service sitting next to parents that are engaged in the worship service than he or she will learn in a year of a separate experience. When Dad sings, everyone sings.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t have childcare – not at all. But I am saying we should not replace the role of Moms and Dads at church. Let’s make sure we help families disciple their own kids.
The family is the single most important discipleship small group we have. Please don’t take the privilege of worship discipleship away from the families you lead. Instead, equip them to do it well.
If we did this right, we would raise up a generation of passionate worshippers.
Mike Harland is the Director of LifeWay Worship. When he’s not directing 30+ employees, you’ll find him leading worship at various churches around the country, writing/arranging worship songs and/or, writing his next book (checkout his latest book: Worship Essentials). In his spare time, he loves playing basketball and spending time with his family (and his two new grand-babies). Visit MikeHarland.com to keep up with all that Mike has going on.