Cheryl Markland, the children’s consultant for the Baptist State Convention of NC writes about options for corporate worship for children in this three-part series.
If you missed part one, take a look.
At what age did you learn to brush your teeth, read a book, ride a bike, roller skate or play an instrument? Chances are you did all this before age 10. Skill development happens rapidly when children are young. This is why we introduce languages, dance, and math at an early age. If it is important to introduce this information to young children, why do we hesitate to introduce corporate worship to children?
When children gather separately from parents and other adults for corporate worship, this important education of corporate worship rarely happens. If God cared enough to design opportunities for families to worship together, shouldn’t we be willing to do the same?
Dr. Steve Parr and Dr. Tom Crites have written an important book, Why They Stay (Westbow Press, 2015) that reveals their research into what church and families can do to help young people connect and stay with the local church. These researchers have found:
“young adults who attended worship services that separated them from their parents when they were children were 38% more likely to have strayed as a young adult than those who were not in separate services.”
After crossing the river into the Promised Land, Joshua was commanded to have the people construct a place of remembrance and worship composed of twelve stones taken from the dry riverbed of the Jordan River. Their purpose was to provide a commemoration of God’s providence as a reason for worship so that the parents could answer their children’s question:
“What is the meaning of these stones?” (Joshua 4: 20-24, CSB)
The stones were the starting point for parents to teach about the character and nature of God as they remembered his provision of safe passage to the Promised Land and His care as they traveled through the desert.
Judges 2:10-11 (CSB) tells us,
“That whole generation was also gathered to their ancestors. After them another generation rose up who did not know the Lord or the works He had done for Israel. The Israelites did what was evil in the Lords’ sight. They worshiped the Baals.”
From the earliest time that a people group was designated as a nation of God, parents were given the role of teaching their children about matters of faith and belief. Deuteronomy 6: 4-9 gives parents the plan for spiritual teaching as they travel on the road, spend time at home, preparing for bed and rise to meet the new day. Visuals for teaching were to be worn and displayed on the doorposts of the home and to be seen as people left the city gates. This may be one of the first examples of intentional local, national and international mission education!
Worship was designed by God to begin at home and culminate in corporate worship. We must consider God’s plan for worship as we plan for children.