“People were bringing little children to Jesus in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’ And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.” —Mark 10:13-16 (NRSV).
We all know this story and these words of Jesus, and I suspect we all think fondly on them. What a kind, child-loving man Jesus was. But in practice—at least when it comes to worship—I suspect some of us are a bit more like the disciples, occasionally “stern” about the presence of children in worship, particularly when we perceive that presence as disrupting our own worship experience. Rev. Ian Hester Doesher states that “Having children in worship is an inherent paradox.” On the one hand, if we take Jesus’ words seriously, our faith demands that we welcome children in our midst just as we would welcome Jesus. This isn’t a part of the Levitical code that we can argue is irrelevant today, this isn’t something we can argue Paul just wrote on a bad day, it’s not an enigmatic passage from the latter half of Daniel—this is a point straight from the horse’s mouth, and it deserves our attention. Regardless of whether Jesus actually spoke the words, the fact that they appear in three of four gospels means that they were an important part of the early Christian tradition. It is not a Christian church that does not welcome children in its midst. Here are four reasons children should regularly be in the main service according to Tamera Kraft:
- Children should not be removed from the main body for convenience sake. This is one reason churches remove children. They want a professional church service where adults can enjoy the worship without being disrupted by noisy children. This sounds good, but the Book of Acts never talks about having a professional service nor does the Bible talk about meeting our own selfish needs during
church, but it does talk about children not being pushed aside.
- Children are a part of the Body of Christ. There is nowhere in the Bible where it says children are a separate body. They are an important part of the church and shouldn’t always be excluded when the church meets. During the Feast of Tabernacles, all of Israel would come before the Lord to hear the reading of the Law so that the children would hear it and learn to fear the Lord. In Paul’s letters to the Ephesians, he gave instructions directly to the children to obey their parents. He considered them a part of the church that he was writing to.
- Children need godly examples of how to worship. If children never see adults in the main service worshiping, they won’t know how to worship or what is expected of them.
- Children need to feel like they are a part of the church community. If children are always separated from the body of Christ, they will never feel like they are a part of the church community. And the members of the church will never get to know the children and be an example to them unless they work in children’s ministry.
I hope that you will bring your children, and grand-children to church plus welcome other folks’ kids into the worship of God on Sunday mornings!!
In Christ, Phil