Children in worship

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Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
I was reading this article from a Catholic perspective on children in worship:

Here is an interesting quote:

[quote:c71bce52cc]
Even very young children can be taught to be quiet and still on certain occasions, and if Catholic parents bring their children to Mass it should be to take every opportunity to inculcate in them, even before reaching the age of reason, a sense of wonder and sacredness which can leave a lasting impression.
[/quote:c71bce52cc]

Putting aside that this is from a Catholic source, what are people's opinions on cultivating this attitutde in children in worship services?

I think it is right and warranted by a rightly Reformed understanding of worship. This is from the PCA Book of Church Order (par. 47-2):

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A service of public worship is not merely a gathering of God's children with each other, but before all else, a meeting of the triune God with His chosen people. God is present in public worship not only by virtue of the Divine omnipresence but, much more intimately, as the faithful covenant Savior.
[/quote:c71bce52cc]

I certainly think this would justify a sense of wonder and sacredness. I think these are a few challenges:

[1] Many adults do not have this sense and do not even aspire to it. Contrary to the BCO, they don't perceive local church worship as a meeting with God in any sense not available elsewhere.

[2] Many Protestant services are perceived as climaxing with a religious lecture. The sermon is the main attraction and is often (wrongly) understood less as worship than a didactic tool.

Americans tend to be so egalitarian that they see nothing special about the minister or his sermon, other than he may have more expertise than them (although many people wrongly doubt this). Lost is the sense that he is speaking with the vox Christi - voice of Christ. Christ said these words to the 70 evangelists: "He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me." Luke 10:16. Ministers speak with Christ's voice and this perspective should engender wonder and sacredness. Calvin, John Murry, and others wrote on this, but people today (in my expereince at least) shy away from it.

[3] The sacraments are misunderstood or ignored. People often do not really believe they are feeding on Christ, for example. This is especially true in many of the PCA churches I am familiar with that have a large percent of the congregation who have Bible or Baptist church backgrounds.

Thoughts?
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
My personal opinion is that families should be encouraged to keep their children in worship as soon as possible. But I do think that it is permissible for children of a very young age (say under 2 or 3) to be in a church nursery, based on Neh. 8:3.
 

pastorway

Puritan Board Senior
I agree with the first part of what you said.

But Fred, "all the people" in the land "gathered as one man in the open square" and "the Law was read to the assembly of men, women, and all who could hear with understanding...."

So who kept the kids? Those who could not understand what was being read? Seriously, everyone who could understand what was being read was there! Does this then mean the kids were out or that they were just not the ones being addresses directly as the Law was read?

We have many more examples where the Scripture is specific that toddlers and even new borns were in the congregation while the Law was read. (Deut 29:11; 31:11-13; Joshua 8:35; 2 Chr.20:13)

I am not trying to argue or be dogmatic about the issue of nurseries, but your verse does not support your position.

It is a rather [i:f1d1e706b7]new and modern[/i:f1d1e706b7] invention to remove children from the worship of God!!

Phillip

[Edited on 6-4-04 by pastorway]
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
[quote:bb755c75d2][i:bb755c75d2]Originally posted by pastorway[/i:bb755c75d2]
I agree with the first part of what you said.

But Fred, "all the people" in the land "gathered as one man in the open square" and "the Law was read to the assembly of men, women, and all who could hear with understanding...."

So who kept the kids? Those who could not understand what was being read? Seriously, everyone who could understand what was being read was there! Does this then mean the kids were out or that they were just not the ones being addresses directly as the Law was read?

We have many more examples where the Scripture is specific that toddlers and even new borns were in the congregation while the Law was read. (Deut 29:11; 31:11-13; Joshua 8:35; 2 Chr.20:13)

I am not trying to argue or be dogmatic about the issue of nurseries, but your verse does not support your position.

It is a rather [i:bb755c75d2]new and modern[/i:bb755c75d2] invention to remove children from the worship of God!!

Phillip

[Edited on 6-4-04 by pastorway] [/quote:bb755c75d2]

Phillip,

It is a well established fact that when the Bible says "all" it does not mean "all without exception." It would not be physically possible for the entire nation of Israel to be gathered around that day and hear.

The point is that those who have no understanding do not benefit from words that require understanding. It is also my experience that what occurs in almost every occasion when a 6-9 month old is in worship that the mother winds up gaining nothing from the sermon or the worship as she walks the child, or goes in and out. The one with understanding loses the ability to hear with profit because we somehow thing a six month old who cannot even speak the language benefits from the sermon. It is like to thinking that it would be profitable for an adult to hear a sermon in a completely unintelligble language with no translation and an electro-shock that interrupts concentration every 30 seconds or so.
 

tcalbrecht

Puritan Board Junior
[quote:cf71e6c739][i:cf71e6c739]Originally posted by fredtgreco[/i:cf71e6c739]
My personal opinion is that families should be encouraged to keep their children in worship as soon as possible. But I do think that it is permissible for children of a very young age (say under 2 or 3) to be in a church nursery, based on Neh. 8:3. [/quote:cf71e6c739]

But how then can they take communion? :bs2:
 

sailorswife

Puritan Board Freshman
I have to agree with Fred. I know I have "talked" with you about this before Pastorway, but I still have to say it is not practical for everybody and every church. I think saying it is unbiblical to have a nursery can make is very difficult on mothers. For instance there is a woman in my church who has two young sons and is expecting a third child any minute. Her husband is an unbeliever and does not attend. To say that she must have her newborn baby in the service while keeping two other young children quiet, while nursing the baby, etc... then having to take all three children out to change a diaper or if one of the older kids has to go to the bathroom or is needing discipline. That just makes things stressful, and no the kids won't just sit there quietly while their mom walks out to tend to the baby.

I think it is wonderful if small children can attend and sit quietly but for some kids it is near impossible and very distracting for those around them who are trying to show reverence to the Word being preached
 

pastorway

Puritan Board Senior
I understand and have to say that we have been blessed in our church to see God's grace in this area as we have all of the children in the service with us. They have all learned by a very young age to sit and behave during worship and even start participating themselves at a early age as well.

The single greatest help has been teaching the families in our church about family worship during the week. Church becomes an extension of the weekly habit of worship.

It also helps to have the rest of the church be understanding and lend a hand when needed. The Body truly serves one another and ministers to one another. This has been especially helpful for new people with kids who come to our church.

I will say that where we meet now (rented facility) there is no place for a nursery even if we wanted one. If I had the opportunity I would have a crying room in the back where a parent and child could still hear the service even if they needed to attend to their child.

Children are only a distraction if we allow them to be! A church must be creative, loving, and committed to make family integrated worship work.

Enough about that...I want to ask, since it seems so often that new innovations are considered in a poor light, what does one do with the fact that separating children from their parents at church is a new and modern occurence (within the last 100 years)? Government (public) schools were the first to modify this and then the church followed suit. The church and even schools did not segregate by age until after the rise of Darwinism.

How should that truth affect the way we look at the subject?

Phillip
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Phillip,

I'm not talking about teaching young ones to be quiet. I'm talking about infants who have little (if any) rational qualities. They simply cannot be taught to be quiet. You cannot teach a 5 month old anything except to eat and sleep. There is no training possible. The only thing you can do is get the child to sleep or to completely distract him (perhaps by rocking him or singing to him), which defeats the purpose of having the child in worship. It is distracting to the mother and those worshipping nearby.

A crying room is exactly that. You try and listen to a sermon over a half dozen crying babies. It is self-defeating.

I am not talking about age segregation. I'm not atlking about a "children's message" or a separate church for children up to grade 5 (I have seen this). I'm talking about a space for infants to be apart from and not a distraction to the worship.

I firmly believe (as the parent of 4 children 6 and under) that allowing a mother an hour of piece and quiet to concentrate on the Word of God is the most loving thing a church can do. It gives her a rest, and feeds her spiritually so that she can bring that same word to her children the other 6 days.

Is it better to have mother get nothing out of the sermon by walking the infant, nursing, etc. (this is commonplace) so that the infant can "benefit" from an unintelligble sermon, or is it better to nourish the mother so that she can bring the fruit of that word in her life to her family?
 

CalsFarmer

Puritan Board Freshman
My daughter put her children in the nursery intil they were two. At two years old, my daughter was convinced that her daughter should as a matter of course be in worship seeing that she knew about God and Jesus. One Sunday Baby Shelle started acting out. My daughter picked her up and out they went, a few minutes later they came back in Baby Shelle walking quietly by her mothers side. She was quiet and attentive throughout the rest of the service. When I asked my daughter how she quieted Baby Shelle so quickly my daughter replied:

"I told her that God, Jesus AND the Holy Spirit were watching her and they were sad because she was not being respectful and obedient in worship".

Baby Shelle is 10 now and has no problem reminding other children that God, Jesus AND the Holy spirit are watching.
 
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