Being our children’s role model in worship

Being our children's role model in worship

“Please rise for the Scripture reading.”

A familiar voice then started on the passage. However, after a few verses, I heard a little voice that seemed to come from the same pulpit, but there was no one to be seen. A second later, I recognised that it was the voice of the lectionary reader’s eight-year-old son.

A father had asked his young son to join him in leading a segment of the worship service. How brilliant!

Witnessing a father and son lead in Scripture reading was not only heartwarming, but possibly also a moment of great significance to the children in the congregation. My own three-year-old daughter, who usually prefers having the Bible read to her, stood up later that evening during Bible-reading time and started to read the evening’s devotional verse after me. She proudly declared her aspiration to be like the “Gor Gor” (older brother) she saw in church that morning. Since then, reading a verse a day aloud has become a daily habit at home.

More often than not, we parents think negatively about involving children in our worship services. We think our children will disturb the peace, distract the congregation and disrupt the flow of the service. Hence, we promptly usher them to the cry room or Children’s Ministry class, leaving them to be taught by Sunday school teachers. However, from the example I shared above, this need not be the case.

For most part of the Church’s history, children were expected to worship together with their parents, and parents were the primary instructors and role models from whom children learnt about worship. This went back as far as Moses’ time, when God himself commanded Israelite parents to “impress them (God’s commandments) on your children” (Deut 6:7 NIV).

Perhaps it is timely for pastors, worship leaders and parents to consider the following:

  • How can the church help parents assume their role as the primary instructors of their children on matters relating to the worship of God?
  • How can we encourage children to worship—and lead in worship—together with their families?

These are questions that can help open one’s mind to the great number of possibilities in this area. Some ideas I have come across include:

  • Informing parents one week ahead of time what the week’s worship service would be about, so parents—as primary instructors—can begin the instruction at home first.
  • Providing worksheets about the day’s worship service that have age-appropriate content pertaining to the service itself.
  • Planning the children’s ministry curriculum with closer reference to the sermon calendar.

As we model worship for our children, they will in turn model worship for the younger ones, sometimes sooner than we expect!

Amelia Leo is Programmes Executive at the Methodist School of Music. She worships at Fairfield Methodist Church with her husband, Joshua, and daughter, Faith.