It can be hard to worship in church with little kids. I have a four and two year old and both stay with us during the song portion of the service. The four year old, for whatever reason, wants to be held constantly (only on Sunday mornings) and isn’t shy about complaining loudly if she isn’t getting her way. The two year old is in constant motion. My wife and I want to focus our minds and hearts on the words we are singing but it’s really hard when you’re being constantly interrupted. And, if for a little while you aren’t being interrupted, you start to wonder why.
One solution would be to get the kids out of the service. But I think children’s participation in the same worship service as their parents is too important to lose. They need to see their parents singing to God. They need to learn to participate themselves. They need to know what worship looks like. Getting them out of the service gives a short-term solution but can introduce long-term problems.
And so we are left with a dilemma. We want our kids in worship with us but they are often a source of major distractions. For a while I felt guilty about this. I thought that these distractions were preventing me from worship God.
As I’ve thought through these issues I’ve come to understand worship more broadly. “Worship,” as a friend of mine put it, “is a posture of bowing down in every area of life.” It is a response of reverence, awe, and gratitude toward God (Heb 12:28-29). That response can take the form of singing songs and when it does it is probably more accurately called “praise.” But singing is but one form of worship. We truly worship when we offer our whole lives to God as a living sacrifice (Rom 12:1-2).
With this broader view of worship I am able to incorporate the training of my children under the broader category of worship. On Sunday morning while I am singing praises in worship am I also teaching my kids to have an attitude of reverence and awe toward God? Are their little distractions preventing me from worship or are they really opportunities to worship God in another way?
So to you moms and dads with kids in worship tomorrow: God is pleased with your acts of worship, as you sing and as you train (or at least corral) your children.