Luke 18:15-17 (ESV) Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
Children are integral members of the Body of Christ and we welcome the whole family’s participation in the Divine Service.
From the time children arrive in our families, we begin to guide their growth and development. We teach our children to love and trust, to communicate, to play and work with others. Just as we teach our children how to talk or eat with the family, we also need to help them learn how to worship.
The primary way we do this is by taking our children to church and worshipping with them so they can learn by example. Children wiggle, get fussy, and say unexpected things, all of which we accept. Small people can respond to the awe and beauty, sights and sounds that are part of the worship service even if they do not fully understand them.
What do children learn by worshiping with the congregation Sunday after Sunday?
- They learn they belong to Christ and are welcome in Christ’s church.
- They come to know the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostles’ Creed, and other parts of the service by memory.
- They build a fund of memorable, shared experiences of Christian community from which they may draw when they are older.
- They are enriched by the beauty of music and art as expressions of praise and as human responses to God.
- They hear stories from the Bible read and interpreted and they begin to see Christian worship as one place where God may speak to them.
- They witness the drama of baptism and communion as signs of God’s grace.
- They discover that they are valued as persons by God and by God’s people.
- They learn that worship is about praising God through song, prayer, and offerings.
Bringing children to worship may not always be easy, but it is an essential part of their growth toward Christ. To help keep the children engaged and occupied:
- Activity bags are available in the narthex that can be used during the service.
- There is a special children’s message before the sermon about twice a month. All young people are invited to front of the sanctuary; parents of very young children are welcome to bring them up and sit with them.
- If the need arises, a nursery area is available where the service can still be heard.