People who bring kids to worship know that getting there is just the beginning…

Children wiggle and make noise, and inevitably choose the most reverent moment of the service to fight over the red crayon from the Bible bag. We dangle a “carrot” (donut) to encourage our little people to sit still – though sometimes even the promise of that sugar high isn’t enough to gain their cooperation. Our kids’ misbehavior – or even just totally normal kid quirks – can leave us feeling exposed, uncomfortable, and fighting the urge to flee the Sanctuary with our heads down, praying for invisibility.

So, why on earth do we go to all the trouble?

I have to believe that every adult who has brought a child to worship has, at some point, sincerely asked this question. And when you’re navigating a meltdown during prayers, it sure helps to have some real answers. Here are a few:

  • Research shows that children who worship regularly with their families are much more likely to develop a lifelong faith in Jesus and meaningful connection with a faith community. As parents and adults who value our own faith and relationship with a church, we naturally want that for our kids.
  • Children learn to worship by actually worshiping: by being immersed in the rituals, words, and music of the service. Kids might not understand everything that is going on (although there are things we all can do to help with that), but it is amazing what even the littlest ones pick up and absorb.
  • In GodZone (Sunday School) children hear Bible stories, pray, give offering, and sing songs to God. When kids share these same activities with adults in worship, they see that these worship elements aren’t just “kid stories” or child’s play, but valuable faith practices of the grown-up world, too. And they are part of it!
  • Jesus tells us to both “welcome the little children” and to “become like little children!” When we worship with children, we all receive the gift of a fuller picture of God’s kingdom. There are so few places in our world today where all ages come together to share an experience, and worship may be our best opportunity to make connections between elders and infants, and everyone in between.
  • We promised to bring our kids to worship when they were baptized. Wow, does it feel like a different sort of promise when you’re wrangling a 4-year-old than it did to hold a sweet (sleeping) infant.