Many Sunday school classes incorporate a time of singing in the morning schedule. But often the main purpose and goal of this time is not so readily grounded and communicated within a larger context of children’s formal biblical education. Why do we sing? What do we sing? In what manner do we sing? These are all important questions that should be addressed and should serve to transform this time into something of greater significance than simply singing songs, filling time, and engaging the children.
I have to confess that, over the years, my prayers on behalf of my children and students have often been smaller in scope and weaker in depth than they should be. In part, this is the failure of my mind to more intentionally ground prayer in the powerful truths of Scripture, and the failure of my heart to truly and fully love and embrace these truths—eternal truths, such as the immeasurable greatness and worth of God. Truths that clearly communicate God’s purposes and promises for His people, enjoyed through Christ alone. Truths regarding the almighty power of the Holy Spirit to bring life, growth, and maturity in our children.
Recently, I listened as children from our church practiced singing for their Christmas program. I was delighted as the director carefully explained, stanza by stanza, the meaning of the words of a familiar Christmas carol. As a young child, I remember memorizing this carol with ease, but I had no clue what many of the words meant. Unfortunately, that was true for most of the Christmas carols I sang.
Recently my husband and I had dinner with our daughter and son-in-law. They made a special dinner and had the table set with the “fancy” tableware. But there was one hitch to this elegant dinner—four children were included, too; our grandchildren, ages 1-to 5-years-old. Let’s just say that the children put a distinctive twist on the ambiance of the meal. Even with all the challenges and distractions, we were glad they were there. Though their parents have employed a type of system for mealtime that minimizes the mess and helps both children and adults, it was a joyful mess!
How are you praying for the next generation?
Over the past several months we are concentrating our prayers on the larger purposes of God for our children, our grandchildren, the children in our church, and the children we have the opportunity to teach--the kind of prayers that we are confident align with the will of God and can be assured of His answers. For example, right now, the church where I serve needs about 90 more workers to volunteer in the next two weeks. Certainly we should not hesitate to ask God for those 90 workers, but we want to concentrate our prayers on larger purposes for which those workers are needed. The challenge for us has been to “seek first” these larger purposes for our children and trust God that all the other things (like the 90 workers) will be provided.
I remember asking my Dad if I needed to tithe on my small allowance when I was very young. How could a dime make a difference to the work of the church? I wondered. “I think I should wait to start tithing until I have more to give,” I said, as he handed me my dollar. “If I had a hundred dollars and could give ten, it would matter more,” I said. “And it would be a lot easier then, because I’d still have 90 left to spend,” I thought. “If you don’t learn to do it with a small amount,” he said, “you’ll never do it when you have more. It gets harder, not easier.” I never forgot his wise counsel and have often thanked God for giving me my Dad who taught me the importance of gladly giving back to God. But it’s not just generosity God wants from his people, no matter how young. He wants their attention. And ultimately, their worship.
Children Desiring God is excited to announce the release of two, brand new booklets for parents, pastors, and those involved in ministry to children.
It is amazing to me how many times—especially in life’s most difficult situations—the words of great hymns come to mind to guide my thoughts and emotions.
…though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet…Jesus who died shall be satisfied, And earth and heaven be one.—This is My Father’s World
…The prince of darkness grim, We tremble not for him—His rage we can endure, For lo his doom is sure: One little word shall fell him.—A Mighty Fortress
…Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love: Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, Seal it for Thy courts above.—Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing
The other night, my husband and I had dinner with our daughter and son-in-law. They made a special dinner and had the table set with the “fancy” tableware. But there was one hitch to this elegant dinner—4 children were included, too, our grandchildren, ages 1 to 5 years old. Let’s just say that the children put a distinctive twist on the ambiance of the meal. Even with all the challenges and distractions, we were glad they were there…It was a joyful mess! Their parents have employed a type of “system” for mealtime that helps both children and adults.
In previous posts, we have highlighted the amazing benefits for welcoming children into the corporate worship service. But let’s not gloss over some of the challenges. It’s a little like inviting a group of young children to a fine dining experience—some adjustments have to be made. This should be a loving, cooperative strategy involving both parents and church. Sometimes parents just need some practical help and resources. Sometimes that church needs to make a few adjustments and give the whole church community a vision for welcoming children. Below are some resources that we believe will be helpful:
It seemed like an eternity at the time—a frustrating eternity—to train our wiggly, always talking, 5-year-old son to sit quietly through a 90-minute worship service. But somehow we all lived through it, and slowly but surely he learned to not only sit and be quiet, but he also began to recall and ponder an amazing amount of the sermon teaching. In turn, this provided us with a springboard for further spiritual discussion and training in the home.
This leads to Pastor David Michael’s fourth benefit for welcoming children into the corporate worship service (see Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3):
Bringing children into the worship service provides an opportunity for them to learn how to worship God and to discover the purpose for which they were created. Lord willing, not only will our children worship God here on earth, but will spend eternity doing so.