Why Worship Services Should Embrace Children

Fun question or fun hopefully answer for you today based on the question. And that’s why worship services should embrace children. Now, this is a collision that happens a lot in evangelical spheres where, you know you’ve been to a church service and they got crying rooms in the back, kind of take your baby out, we don’t want them in here or even the children.

Now, of course, we’ll talk about that in a second. If there’s a ton of chaos going on, we need to be able to focus and listen, but there is a middle ground in my opinion of how to integrate families together for worship. And it’s really, really important. Now this is actually a question we got in Homeroom, our membership community. It was awesome discussion in there. I loved it. And there was a really, really cool comment that kind of someone popped in of a pamphlet that they actually read or was put on some seats, I think, where was it, at a Jewish school or something like that, Jeremy? I can’t remember.

The synagogue, I think. Yeah, the shul, the synagogue.

Yes. But Jeremy, talk more about that. This is something that we need to be thinking about and it’s really practical and something that I think we should always be considering to understand what kind of children and families we’re forming, because hopefully if you are people who are going to rhythmic worship services and you are going to weekly gatherings of some sort. And so what does that look like?

Yeah, guys. In the Homeroom, somebody actually had their child kicked out of a worship service where an usher said, “Please do not bring your child back.” And she was describing, “Hey, they weren’t being very loud,” but it’s just not culturally, not at all acceptable to have young children in the worship service in the church they were attending. And somebody in Homeroom dropped this amazing pamphlet that they saw in a synagogue that Jeff was describing. And I’m going to read a little bit of this to you. Just to contrast you guys, the way that Christians tend to think about children in worship services and the way that oftentimes Jewish congregations or synagogues think about it.

Basically this pamphlet had two sections, one that was written to the parent and one that was written to the people around the parent to help them be patient. I’m just going to read, it’s very long. I’m just going to read you guys a few snippets that I thought were fascinating. They used the word shul for a synagogue in this pamphlet.

It says, “Children who come to shul are learning to be shul goers. And they and their parents are the future of our congregation and of the Jewish people. If they go only to babysitting, they’ll think that that’s all there is. If they don’t try to come to the bimah, the worship service, the alter there slowly at first for a few seconds, then off next time for a minute, then for a few then to the Shema, they’ll never have a chance to get used to being on the bimah. Remember that the way we welcome children in shul directly affects the way they respond to shul, to Judaism and to one another. Let them and their parents know that they are welcome in the shul.”

That was written to the parents, there’s all kinds of language about, we know they’re going to make some noise, don’t feel bad, super, super helpful. And then they also to the other synagogue members it says, “Please welcome our children and give a smile of encouragement to their parents. Glares and even unfriendly glances can really hurt. That parent is doing his or her best. If you see a parent struggling, please offer to help them. Remember those adults in your life who taught you about your faith and honor their willingness to teach and to welcome you by doing the same for a new generation.”

And what really blew my mind when I read this because virtually every worship service that we’ve been a part of, there was sort of this sort of spirit of like, please, please, please put your kids in the childcare. To see a synagogue come out and say, “Please, please bring your kid into the worship service.” And that they would educate not only the parents, but also the entire congregation about how to welcome those children. Because, and they give the reason right there at the end. The reason is, we are trying to do what’s best for the generations. Remember that when you were a child, you were brought in to this whole experience, into our faith, make sure that you’re doing all of that effort for the next generation.

And because Christians by and large do not think about our faith. We do not think about our families multi-generationally. We do not know what to do with our children. We do not know how to value our kids. We do not value the experience of having worship together because we are thinking about ourselves as individuals. This is the classic problem that we keep pointing out, which is that Christians have embraced the Western idea of family, which is a collection of individuals instead of really look at that classical or biblical idea of family is a multi-generational team on mission. This is a really helpful, I think, paradigm. And we learn a lot from our Jewish friends, because they have this value at such a higher level. And so I was super encouraged to read what this congregation is doing. And I thought a lot about how this could, or maybe should influence our Christian worship services.

Yeah. And I think one thing I’ll add too, is just to reiterate, is it really is a philosophical difference. Not only as a whole on the family and the generations, but also the children. We see children as burdens even in the Christian world. And I love how that on the part that said to all members, I’m not going to, I’ll probably get the Hebrew word wrong, but it basically said in the Talmud, it said, “Don’t call them thy children, call them thy builders.” And I loved that. That they’re not, they are children, but we actually, no one has a higher view of children than sometimes the Jewish community, because they’re the builders. This is literally the future of the world and of the coming generations for the blessing and goodness of God to go out. And how much more should we believe that as people who are under the Lordship of Jesus?

And so they’re not just children. And I think Jesus obviously pushes this over and over again with, let them come to me, let them be centered, let them be focused. Let them not be out of sight. It’s very clear that he was about that as well. I think that’s huge. And just remembering that is huge. Now, every church is different, there’s policies. There’s things to think of and there’s things to be appropriate in and all of that. But in the wisdom, understand that are we pushing and pointing towards our blessing of children as the future of the generations?

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