“How To Worship with Your Children”
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. ” (Deuteronomy 6:5–7)
In Matthew 22:34-36, Jesus was asked about the greatest truth of the law. He pointed to the most important commandment in the Bible: “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise’ ” (Deuteronomy 6:5–7)
God’s call to love Him first and foremost is a charge to the family. He charged parents to live out their love for Him by doing all in their power to pass their faith to their children. To make sure by teaching and by example that a generation comes up behind us with a passion for God and His glory.
Are we serious about loving God? Then we must be serious about diligently teaching God’s Word to our children. This is the first mission God gave us after the most important commandment in the Bible. John MacArthur states, “This is the ultimate purpose of parenting: to impress the hearts of our children with a love for God.” As a parents to three young men, Julie and I the primary spiritual teachers, trainers, and shepherds of our sons.
So, how do we best teach and model a heart of worship if it is to begin in our home? The Moody Church in Chicago, IL has an excellent guide to help parents prepare their kids’ hearts for corporate worship (see below). If you have young children in your home, pray through this guide and apply it to your family’s worship preparation. If your children are grown and parents themselves, pass it on them and as a useful tool to teach and model worship as a way of life. If you are a grandparent, ask to keep your grandchildren over a weekend, and use it as an opportunity to teach them how to love and worship God. Let’s make sure that our worship of God and His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, is embedded in the very fabric of who we are as a family.
“Teaching Children to Engage in Worship”
The Moody Church
Sometimes the difference for children between enduring Sunday morning service and enjoying Sunday morning service is simply a matter of preparation and training. It is our heartfelt prayer that your child will come as a participant in the service to worship our great God. To that end, we have prepared a few suggestions that might help you lead your child to worship on Sunday morning.
Be a Role Model for Your Child
- The best way we can help our children love and know God more is to grow personally in our love for and knowledge of Him. Be a worshiper! Prepare your own heart and mind for the corporate exaltation of Christ each Sunday morning.
- Start your morning with a positive attitude, a cheerful tone, a spirit of anticipation and enthusiasm and a heart for worship.
- Pray with your children in the car on the way to church. Confess together and begin prayers that glorify God before you even arrive.
Be Prepared for Worship
- Sunday morning starts Saturday night – lay out clothes (find all shoes!), get offerings ready, rehearse memory verses, gather together everything you need to bring with you, etc. before Sunday morning.
- Keep Sunday simple – make a simple breakfast and leave the house with time to spare.
- Remind your child of your expectations of his/her behavior and how they will encounter God during the church service.
Walk Your Child through the Service before the Service Starts
- Look over the worship bulletin while waiting for the service to start. Point out what will be happening and how your child can participate. This may mean teaching them a phrase from a song or chorus and asking them to listen for it.
- You may want to pray with your child before the service starts.
Encourage your Child to Participate in the Service
- By teaching your child hymns and choruses at home he/she will be able to participate in the service. If they cannot learn the whole hymn, teach them the refrain and signal to them with it is time to sing the part they know.
- Encourage your child to sit and stand at the appropriate times, to clap when appropriate, etc.
- Show them the words of the hymnal, moving your finger along as the hymn is sung. (Even if your child is a nonreader this will help to focus their attention and encourage them to pay attention to the words.)
- Have your child bring an offering and place it in the basket.
Help your Child become an Active Sermon Listener
- Help your child to focus on the sermon by quietly whispering instructions to him – i.e. “Listen to this story,” or “Can you draw a picture of … ?” This is not a time of long instruction, but just very short statements to focus their attention.
- Encourage a younger child to listen to the sermon and to draw a picture of something from the sermon. (This should be seen as active listening.) If your child is very young and has a hard time sitting for a long time, after listening to the sermon for awhile, you may want to let your child look at Bible storybooks or begin using the Children’s Bulletin.
- As your child gets older and learns to write, model for him/her how to take simple notes. Let them copy your notes at first; then encourage them to take their own. Take advantage of the sermon notes for kids that are handed out with the Children’s Bulletin.
- Keep a spiral notebook that is specifically for Sunday morning.
Talk about the Service on the Way Home
- Speak words of praise to the child who has behaved well in service. In addition to praise, you might mention one or two things that you both hope will be better next time.
- Speak positively with your child about the service, and ask them if they have any questions.
- Encourage them to share their drawings and notes with you.
- Ask them what they learned about God or if He was teaching them anything during the service.
- Let your child know what a privilege it was to worship with them that morning.