I’m passionate about helping children to see how every part of a church worship service tells the story of the gospel. But God hasn’t just commanded us to worship him when we come to church. The Bible teaches us to praise the Lord during every part of our day. God wants us to teach our kids to live fully worshipful lives.
In Psalm 78:4, the songwriter, Asaph, declares: “We will . . . tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders that he has done.”
Asaph is an example both of a parent who led his children in worship and of a leader who led the community in worship. Another songwriter, David, describes a similar scene in Psalm 145:
One generation commends your works to another;
they tell of your mighty acts.
They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
They tell of the power of your awesome works—
and I will proclaim your great deeds.
They celebrate your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your righteousnessPsalm 145:4-7 (NIV)
This is God’s desire for us as worshippers. One generation declares God’s wonder and works to the next. How do you do that as a mom, dad, grandparent, or caregiver? Here are just a few encouragements:
1. Slow down and say thanks for what God has given you.
David says, “I will meditate on your wonderful works” (Psalm 145:5).One of God’s wonderful works is your children. The young boy or girl in your care is fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). The next time they make you laugh or say something cute and you’re tempted to pull out your phone to share that moment with the world—instead, just take it in. Enjoy it. And remember the Creator who gave you this gift. Stop and say thanks.
2. Put off complaining and put on a life of praise.
Kids will wear you out! When they’re babies, you deal with midnight feedings and constant diaper changes. As they grow, you’re running here and there to practice or clubs. Helping a child grow up is hard. And do you know what we’re tempted to do? We’re tempted to complain about the gifts God has given us. We’re complaining about them when—according to these passages—we should be telling, proclaiming, celebrating, and joyfully singing about God’s goodness and love to them. So, when you’re tempted to complain, stop and remember that God loves you. Then, celebrate him before your kids. Put some good music on and sing about God as you drive in the car. Read a Bible storybook before bedtime and pray a little prayer of thanks as you tuck your child in at night. Put off complaining, redirect your heart, and enjoy yourself as you’re celebrating God! Expressive joy in Christ makes his message believable for our children. You are the curriculum that your child will learn most fully. So, put on a life of praise. It truly is a good thing to praise the Lord (Psalm 92:1).
3. Finally, encourage your kids to be responsive and expressive!
You shouldn’t demand outward expression from your kids in worship, but you can encourage it. The Scriptures call everyone to clap their hands to the Lord. It’s a universal appeal (Psalm 47:1). So, we should be clear with our children that God is calling them to respond to him as well. Invite your kids to respond to God with their bodies by raising their hands in worship or bending their knees in prayer. Use God Made Me for Worship or other tools to explain why we worship the way we do (Exodus 13:8). You have the privilege and responsibility to show your kids the greatness, power, and glory of Jesus. So, take time to talk about the words we sing on Sunday. Take time to ask questions about what a song means and how its words apply to your child’s life. Your questions can help you discover how much your kids understand.
Remember: God wants generation after generation to know, trust, and worship him. And he will accomplish this through us as we allow our worship to overflow before our kids. So, slow down and give thanks. Put off complaining and put on a life of praise. And encourage your kids to join you in worship. You can start as early as this week. Here are some ideas.
Activity #1: Explain a common worship practice to your children.
You could pick one of the practices described in God Made Me for Worship, or choose another worship service element that is common in your church community and explain how it helps our hearts and minds come near to God with praise and thanksgiving.
Here are two common worship practices to consider as examples:
Lifting Hands. We sometimes raise our hands when we sing or pray. Read 1 Timothy 2:8 and then explain how it is good to lift your hands in worship. We don’t lift our hands in order to become holy. Rather, we lift our hands as an expression of what God is doing in us. We “lift holy hands” like a child reaching up to her father. We lift our hands and it show that we belong to God. He has made us his holy people.
Giving. Each Sunday, churches include giving as a part of their worship service by passing an offering plate or basket. Read 2 Corinthians 9:6–14. Explain to your children that all we have comes from God and belongs to God, so we can joyfully give back to God and his church through our offerings. Giving also expresses our trust that God will be faithful to meet our needs.
Activity #2: Read Psalm 98 together as a family.
Answer these questions together: Who and what is worshiping God in this song? How are they worshiping God? What parts of their bodies do they use? What instruments do they use? Why do they worship God in this way?
GOD MADE ME FOR WORSHIP: HELPING CHILDREN UNDERSTAND CHURCH
Using the vision of Isaiah 6, God Made Me for Worship focuses on teaching kids about the key liturgical movements in a worship gathering, including the call to worship, praise and adoration, confession, assurance and passing the peace, ministry of the Word and sacraments, and benediction and sending.