Children in Worship
Our staff visited a church that worships differently than we do. There were things we liked and things we disliked about the service. The most different thing we experienced was the lack of children in the service: there were none.
When the service was over we saw a few parents of tiny infants exiting the "cry room" located behind us. We all noticed the absence of children and, if I may speak for the rest of those in attendance, we missed the children. It reminded me of a scene in the 1968 movie, "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," where the leading man (Dick Van Dyke) and the leading lady (Sally Ann Howe) realize that something is missing from the city they are visiting, but they all have a little trouble deciding what it is until they are told that the children are either locked up or in hiding.
At First United Methodist Church Richardson, the children are not in hiding.
We worship WITH children and even FOR children in some instances. Here are some phrases I hear concerning children in worship:
"Children should be seen and not heard in worship."
Have you ever heard a child sing the doxology or recite the Lord’s Prayer with all their heart? It brings tears to my eyes to know that church tradition is being passed on to yet another generation and so on and so on.
"Children just cannot understand what is being said" or "children just get the worship bags and zone out."
Just like my parents did, I ask my children at least one thing about the worship service or sermon each Sunday after church and quite often they surprise even me with how much they heard.
"Children are a distraction to those around them."
This can be true, but when you are distracted do you:
Smile at the family and turn back around in your seat?
Frown and grumble at the perpetrator and cross your arms?
Our response to children in worship speaks volumes to them about the love of God and their church family.
“I would much rather see children in worship than not see them at all!”
This is a direct quote from me, the children’s director of course! Take a note from that great rabbi, Jesus, and just say, “Let the Children Come!”