Discovering Your Identity in Christ – A Study in Ephesians – Part 18

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Walking in Harmony – Part II – Family Matters

“6 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”[p]

Fathers,[q] do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”  Ephesians 6:1-4 NIV

As Paul continues to give instructions on walking in harmony, notice the word that Ephesians 6 starts out with.  “Children…”  In other words, Paul assumes the presence of children when the Epistles were read to the church.  This suggests Paul didn’t see church attendance and worship participation as an activity for just mom and dad.  He assumed that children would be in the church as well.

This leads us to an important question in the contemporary church today.

Should children worship with adults or among other children?

When families enter a church, we seem to be in a rush to get them separated.  Many churches take children out of the main worship service to provide a separate children’s church.  Some more traditional models have the family worship together and then dividing into age-appropriate classes.

Should children worship with adults or among other children?

An article on churchleadership.com posed both views – one of being pro-children’s church (taking children out of worship and providing them a place to worship with other kids) and the other being pro-family worship (keeping children in the worship service and making the service itself more friendly for families).

Pro Children’s Church

  • “Restless kids are a huge distraction to the adult service, and children can really begin to dislike church because they’re continually corrected during the adult service.”
  • “We had children in our worship service initially, but the service was totally geared to adults. When challenged on this, I was told that they didn’t want to ‘dumb-down’ worship for the kids. My response has remained the same, “Either include them or exclude them, but don’t ignore them.”
  • “I love sitting in a service watching a child as he watches his father and raises his hands the same way or puts his hand over his heart like his mother.”

The advantage of children having their own worship services is that it allows for their extra energy, needs, and characteristics that might make them uncomfortable in adult services.  Jesus never seemed to mind loud kids praising Him and coming to Him.

Pro Family Worship

What children’s ministers at cmmag.com say…

  • “My children need to see their parents worshiping. They learn so many things by parents’ example-including worship.”
  • “Families are separated enough in our society. Worship should involve everyone…Keep my family together on Sunday morning!”
  • “If kids learn at an early age that it’s acceptable in the house of God to separate themselves from the adults, later on they learn that it’s okay to segregate themselves.”
  • “There’s nothing more beautiful than to take part in services of worship with children present. Just to see their little eyes widen and faces light up fills me with joy.”

Others suggest that in the midst of living in a chaotic culture that involves school, work, soccer, baseball, and with soaring rates of divorce, adultery, suicide, and drug use in families, it may be better to have the church be a safe haven where families come together to worship, rather than another community that separates them.

It could also be argued that involving children in worship introduces them to see the church as a place of reverence rather than simply games and snacks.  When the next generation rises up seeing the church as a place of entertainment, games, and snacks, the message of the Gospel could be lost.  At that point, in order to keep young people in the church, we would need to be centers of entertainment, games, and snacks rather than introducing them to Jesus – if that hasn’t happened already.  .   

While I don’t have a great answer to this challenge, I wonder if there are times that as the church today, segregate the family too much.  Just a thought.

Maybe introducing families to sitting in worship, holding of hands in prayer, and believing together could make the practice more of a norm at home as well.

Holy Spirit lead me as I lead my family to the foot of the cross.  In the powerful name of Jesus Christ, amen. 

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