Welcoming Children Into Community

Sunday is my son's favorite day, because he gets to worship in community.

"What's your favorite day of the week?" I asked.

"Sunday," Jonathan answered without hesitation.


"Because of worship at our Home Group," Jonathan said.

This was no isolated response. Around our house, there was no doubt about it: worship was the highlight of six-year-old Jonathan's week. The same was true of four-year-old Janelle.

It had not always been so. In fact, only two years earlier, one of the most persistent problems of our worship community had been the "babysitting problem." What do we do with the kids?

We had tried a half-dozen babysitters during our meetings. We had tried letting children play without a sitter. We had tried keeping them in the meetings with us. Nothing we tried worked very well for very long. The "babysitting problem" stubbornly resisted solution.

Reading Children's Ministry by Larry Richards[1] reminded me that the first-century church didn't segregate children from adults. Evidently worship and the nurture of children's faith took place in intergenerational settings. Children were simply part of the life of the community.

That got me thinking. What if we quit looking at our children as babysitting problems to be solved and started looking at them as members of the community? What if, rather than trying to find someone else to take our children off our hands, we accepted the responsibility of discipling our own children when the community gathered?

In response of these questions, the group decided to experiment with intergenerational worship. During the first forty-five minutes or so of our two-hour worship time, we—all children and adults—worshiped together. That period included all the elements of our adults-only services:singing, prayer, sharing and the week's joys and pains, and ...

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