Kids (4 and under)
We make sure on Sunday mornings to provide a fun space with books and toys for the 4s and under that parents are welcome to use to keep their kids “occupied” if necessary. We also try to have trusted volunteers serving at this station whenever we’re able to recruit them.
We all know that the littles can sometimes get a bit squirmy in the service, and we want to do our best to accommodate for that.
Kids (5 and up)
Even so, we believe that children are instrumentally formed and shaped by patterns and practices from an early age. We believe that “habits of grace” – chief among them being our participation in Sunday morning corporate worship gatherings – are essential in the life of every believer.
We also believe that, by and large, when the whole church gathers for worship on the Lord’s Day, the whole church should be gathered. The men should be there alongside the women; the old should be there alongside the young.
For one, the New Testament assumes that children are in the worship service and addresses them directly in the letters that are to be read publicly during the corporate gathering: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1; Colossians 3:20).
The Old Testament gives us more than several examples of whole families being present for public convocations during the early days of Israel’s history:
Moses assembled all the congregation of the people of Israel and said to them, “These are the things that the Lord has commanded you to do” (Exodus 35:1).
“When all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place that he will choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones … that they may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as you live in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess” (Deuteronomy 31:11-13).
“There was not a word of all that Moses commanded that Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, and the women, and the little ones, and the sojourners who lived among them” (Joshua 8:35).
The Scriptures are weighted on the side of commending the practice of including the children when God’s people gather for worship.
Moreover, when you’re constantly funneling the kids out of the service and putting them in age-segregated silos, isn’t that functionally the same thing as saying, “you’re not welcome here, you’re not a part of this, and you belong somewhere else”?
That’s not good discipleship, and that’s not the message we want to convey to our kids.
Church is an opportunity to disciple our kids to be active participants in public worship. This isn’t always easy, comfortable, or convenient, but it is good. Every squirm of a little body in the seat next to us, and every peep of a toddler two-rows back, is a reminder to all of us - these children are God’s gracious gifts.