Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Where are the Children?

Have you ever noticed that there children are frequently excluded from the church worship service in America?

Most children are either not present at all, or dismissed before the sermon for a special age-appropriate Bible class. This is true in my church for kids who have not yet entered 1st grade. After 1st grade, we expect them to stay in the service with the adults. Although, this is more out of pragmatics (we can't staff an extensive children's ministry) than theological conviction.

Most kids and most parents are fine with this. I am not so sure that God is.

Last Lord's Day, in a sermon on Acts 20:5-12, we noticed that a young man named Eutychus was present in the worship service -- a service that lasted all night long. In Acts 20:11, Luke describes Eutychus as a "boy". Luke uses a term that typically refers to someone who has not yet reached puberty. Most likely Eutychus was younger than 10-12 years old.

Eutychus is not the only young child present in gathered worship.

In Joel 2:12-17 God is calling His people to repentance. In Joel 2:16 He specifically includes children and nursing infants.

In 2 Chronicles 20:1-13 Jehosaphat is praying to God because Judah has been invaded. 2 Chronicles 20:13 specifically mentions that infants and children were present. The word for infants indicates someone who moves with "tripping steps" i.e. a toddler.

These same toddlers are present in Deuteronomy 29:11 when God renews the covenant with Israel at Moab. They are also commanded to be present every seven years at the Feast of Booths when the Law is read (Deut 31:12-13).

It seems that God desires young children, even infants and toddlers, to be present with His gathered community during worship.

Shouldn't we desire what God desires?

In Christ
Pastor Mike

P.S. I am still processing and applying this. My almost 4 year old daughter does not yet stay in the worship service. Although, I am planning to change that. More on that tomorrow.