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Worship as Dialogue

Worship as Dialogue

I begin by simply noting that keeping children in worship is hard work. In fact, virtually all fruit that comes from worship stems from hard work. The word “liturgy” itself means the work of the people. Therefore, a meaningful service will demand much from parents.

There is a principle that we as evangelicals must all understand before we even contemplate the question of children in worship. The principle is that worship is to be a dialogue rather than a monologue. You can apply this principle even to the least liturgical congregation. Once a parent sees that worship is to be engaged, he/she will begin to see the purpose of children in it. Worship is not merely an intellectual exercise, it is an act of communication and communion between God and man. God speaks and we respond. If a parent does not see worship as dialogical, but merely a transmission of ideas from the clergy to the people, then he/she will not see the need to keep children in worship.

The Arguments Against Children in Worship

The Arguments Against Children in Worship

I want to appeal to evangelicals who do not accept the premise that children belong in worship with adults. Now, the majority of those who read me find the above concept strange. Many of us have seen the fruit of seeing our little ones grow up worshiping next to us and singing our songs and confessing sins. Yet for many, the idea of children in worship seems foreign.

These parents will make at least four arguments against bringing children to worship with them on Sunday. First, some will argue, “I can’t keep my children quiet during worship, therefore I don’t see the need to keep them with me.” I am especially aware of this argument with families that have lots of kids. Second, some will argue, “I am not going to get anything out of the service if I have to keep an eye on my kids.” Third, a few will argue that keeping kids in worship with parents is a waste of time since they will get nothing out of it. They are, after all, children and lack the capacity to grasp the language of a worship service. Finally, aware of evangelical parents who view Sunday morning as a day to relax from parental duties and catch up with church friends, so putting kids in children’s worship provides the needed rest for weary parents.

I am certain there are additional reasons, but these are a few that I hope to tackle in upcoming posts in the hope of beginning a conversation on why I and so many others have faithfully kept our children in worship Sunday after Sunday.

The Braying of Asses

The Braying of Asses

“…we marvel when we hear music in which one voice sings a simple melody, while three, four, or five other voices play and trip lustily around the voice that sings its simple melody and adorn this simple melody wonderfully with artistic musical effects, thus reminding us of a heavenly dance, where all meet in a spirit of friendliness, caress and embrace. A person who gives this some thought and yet does not regard music as a marvelous creation of God, must be a clodhopper indeed and does not deserve to be called a human being; he should be permitted to hear nothing but the braying of asses and the grunting of hogs.” -Dr. Martin Luther

Luther on the Gift of Music

Luther on the Gift of Music

“Music is an outstanding gift of God and next to theology. I would not give up my slight knowledge of music for a great consideration. And youth should be taught this art; for it makes fine skillful people.”

“The riches of music are so excellent and so precious that words fail me whenever I attempt to discuss and describe them…. In summary, next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world. It controls our thoughts, minds, hearts, and spirits…”

“Our dear fathers and prophets did not desire without reason that music be always used in the churches. Hence, we have so many songs and psalms. This precious gift has been given to man alone that he might thereby remind himself that God has created man for the express purpose of praising and extolling God.”

Inquiring Children

Inquiring Children

I have a child who in an uneventful day will pose an average of 50 questions; on an eventful day, the average might double. How do they do it? It’s easy to be overwhelmed. I am often overwhelmed. My wife is a much more patient saint. But the point is we do want inquiring children. They are image-bearers in their world created by their God and their goal is to explore the grain of sand and the grand questions of life. Let them be curious. Let them ask. Let them explore life in all its beauty and mystery. Don’t crush their quest.

Idolizing Parental Wisdom

Idolizing Parental Wisdom

We tend to idolize our wisdom, which is why at times we are quick to dismiss our children’s perspectives and observations. I understand that foolishness needs to be corrected, or better yet, re-directed. But I find myself continually amazed at the insights of children. They carry with them a sense of awe in their interpretation of the world that we need a lot more of as adults. To that end, we need to pay closer attention to their words for unto such belong the kingdom of heaven. When we quickly dismiss what they say, we may be missing a bit of the kingdom and simultaneously crushing their ability to grow emotionally and intellectually.

Discerning Between Discipline and Accidents

Discerning Between Discipline and Accidents

One of the difficulties of parenting is the art of discernment. Distinguishing between acts of disobedience and accidents is fundamental to avoid crushing our children’s spirit. Accidents are not reasons for discipline, they are opportunities for productive conversations. When a child spills his water, rarely is it related to an act of willful disobedience. They are children. Children and accidents are almost synonymous. We should expect them and we should, in turn, prepare to deal with them rightly. I confess this is no easy task, but one we should be aware and prepared. Confusing accidents with disobedience can crush their day-to-day experience and joy. Further, they can begin to hide accidents for fear that they may be interpreted as sinful actions.

Disciplining Children with a Purpose

Disciplining Children with a Purpose

It’s not that we are self-consciously crushing our children’s spirit, it’s that we have made a habit of doing so and deceived ourselves into thinking it’s good parenting. We may call it “tough parenting” to make it more justifiable. But it’s wrong on many levels. An example of this takes place in the midst of discipline. Discipline is a crucial moment in the relationship between child/parent. When we think that discipline, for example, is a one-dimensional exercise, we’ve forgotten how our Father in heaven deals with us (Heb. 12:6). All discipline is characterized by dialogue. When we discipline without engaging, we are acting as if we are unapproachable precisely when our children need to approach us the most.

(After discipline, hugging the child): “Son, I love you and want the best for you. What you did was wrong, and it’s my responsibility to protect you from loving the wrong. Do you understand what daddy is saying?”

What parents don’t want to do at this stage is act like discipline has no purpose. When we fall constantly into this temptation we are crushing our child’s spirit by communicating that wrong-doing is irredeemable and requires no relationship.

The Micro-Managing Paradigm of Parenting

The Micro-Managing Paradigm of Parenting

I am grateful to Classical Conversations for publishing my article. They have an exposure of over 60 thousand readers and it will open some doors for my writing. Here is the article.

Repenting as Parents

Repenting as Parents

I’ve seen parents of two children lose their cool and parents of eight losing their cool. We’re descendants of Adam, which is why the concept of repentance should always be in the background of parenting. Parents are to be repenters daily. In fact, in much of the background of children who rebel stands proud and unrepentant parents. So, I begin with this point: we are crushing our children’s spirit when we don’t repent and confess our sins after yelling, disciplining in anger, belittling them in front of others, failing to console them, weeping with them when they weep, and so on. If we as parents act as if asking our children’s forgiveness for our foolish actions is beneath us, we will crush their spirits.