At What Age Do We Include Our Children in Corporate Worship?

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  1. Rob Sp. says:

    Hey Ryan. Slippery slope? 🙂 I had an unsatisfactory discussion with a learned brother about this very thing when my eldest child was 2. My opinion was that the children don’t get any learning from the sermon, so why bring them? I likened it to school: I wouldn’t bring my child into college hoping that they might pick something up. I would first enroll them in kindergarten then Gr. 1 etc.
    Since then my opinion has changed.
    Both of my children are and have been attending worship services since they were 2 or 3. They have learned not to be a distraction to us or to others by having simple rules, (they’re kind of the same ones as on a bus 😀 ) sit down and be quiet. Arms stay below the bench, no turning around to stare at the worshipers behind, and no talking louder than a whisper.
    They have learned what Lord’s supper and baptism are, they witness their parents partaking. They have learned that they are a part of a whole bunch of people all doing the same thing.
    It was not a smooth road, there was a couple of times where I had to brave the stares to carry one or the other out to enforce one of the rules, but the end result is worth it: worshiping together with our family in our family.
    Maybe the children do not understand deep theological concepts, but the simple ones, the foundational ones, they pick up on.

  2. Belinda Carrico (CanRC in Prince George) says:

    You may already be doing this but I wanted to mention what my husband and I have found helpful (with our four children). Have a time of quiet, sitting still at home, on your lap time. Usually during family worship is the best, but it could be done at other situations such as at the computer. Then you are free to discipline promptly and consistently, and they learn to obey. And there is still a ruff period but it was made shorter even with our most stubborn.

    • Thanks for the idea belinda, If I could get her to sit still I would…she is getting better, but is not there yet. She certainly understands discipline, and we finally last week got her to “attempt” Lord bless this food…:) Thanks for your comment!

  3. Marci Luther says:

    In Italy, I have been to countless churches and I have yet to see one with a nursery. In Canada, when Ben was a baby, I would sit in the parent room with him because it seemed expected but I like it better here in Italy
    because it is expected that the whole family is together for the Mass. I have friends here that didn’t bring their son to Mass because they were scared of the uproar he would cause…well, he started at six years and still causes a bit of an uproar. People smile a little bit more at the two and three year olds that have trouble than they do at the older ones 😉 Ben learned from a very young age what the expected behavior was because he didn’t remember anything else, although I did sit at the very back when he was one and a half because we could make a quick exit when needed!

    • I wonder if it is a cultural thing. I know that in the past generations in our church, the moms just stayed home with the kids…not that I condone that, but it is interesting. Thanks for the comment Marci!

  4. busyquiltmom says:

    I agree with Rob, they learn not to be (too much of) a distraction. Some children are more challenging than others to take in church for sure. I think the expectations you have for your children at home during family devotions will play a roll in how they act in church too.

    My experience in Brazil was everyone in church all together. Babies, toddlers and here and there a stray dog or cat. 🙂 It worked for them and that is the way their culture is. (I am thankful we have a nursery though…)

    • I had no idea you went to brazil 🙂 I would love to see a stray cat or dog in church lol Our kids are expected to sit still during family devotions, but mostly Meagan just sings or runs away…sigh.

  5. cecile says:

    Ryan….thanks for this post. Having raised a handful of boys, and certainly one more challenging than the other in terms of sitting reasonably still, there isn’t really a magical age when to take them to church. I am not one to offer advice on such matters because we had plenty of challenges in that department as well. I suppose one thing would be to sit near the back if you feel that taking her out is distracting to others. Or you could just put her beside me on the left side because I’m deaf anyway lol….

  6. LP says:

    Ryan, thanks for your post, loved it. My husband and I have two girls, one is 2.5 the other 15 months. We’ve had our oldest in church since she was two, and she has done quite well, so far.
    I had worried for so long about when the time came to bring our first daughter to church.but then my father in law gave me some brilliant advice. He said if the kids know when (and listen when asked) to be quiet at the supper table and not interrupt when mom & dad are talking, if they know to be quiet and fold their arms/hands during Bible reading and prayer, also to have any bathroom duties done before or after the meal and not during (same as in church) then there’s a good chance they may be ready to try out a service. Clearly dinner time and a church service are slightly different in terms of length, but it still gives a good indication if they’re ready to sit still and know when to be quiet for a period of time.
    Also -another quick suggestion – I sat my 2yr old on the couch with me one day and picked a sermon online to listen to, and treated her like we were actually in church..worked great to get her more aquainted with ‘how to be’ in church, and gave me an idea of how fidgety she’d be.. . Anyway, just my two cents, Thanks again for your post! Blessings..

  7. Elaine says:

    Our children belong in church with their parents as soon as they are able (for us that meant shortly after their 2nd birthday) Faith is worked in two ways (LD 25, QA 65) through the preaching of the gospel and the use of sacraments, how can we expect our children to develop true faith unless they are given these? I am always amazed at what my little ones pick up from being in church, but I shouldn’t be because that is the Holy Spirit at work 🙂

  8. Hilmer says:

    Ryan,
    Once again, an interesting post. Personally, my wife and I have brought our kids in around 3 (although our second only lasted about a month – I think we’ll bring her back when she’s 12). I think that ultimately this varies based upon each child – I’m not an advocate for a hard and fast rule. Recently, after our move to Hamilton, we were able to enroll our kids in a Little Lambs program for the afternoon service (ages 3-5). We have found this to be a really enjoyable balance. We worship together as a family in the morning, and in the afternoon the really young children enjoy a Bible lesson that is very age specific. They also sing songs, learn a memory verse, and I’m amazed each week at how much they both enjoy (and learn) during these lessons. So for us, we find this a great way to enjoy Sundays together. It allows the children to become familiar with corporate worship each Sunday morning, and yet to have an age appropriate lesson in the afternoon (plus it’s a little easier for mom and dad to focus in the afternoon:))

  9. Shawn says:

    I don’t have any experience having to bring a child into church so I definitely can’t answer the question from the title, but I will contribute my perspective as an onlooker.

    Some can focus even when there is a “distracting” child nearby but that might not be true for everyone. Another group – the parents – well they can’t focus much, if at all, on the sermon when their child is the distraction.

    That being said, an important thing for us to consider is that the parents and others who get distracted need to be fed by the preaching of the Word. If a distraction is preventing this, that’s not so good. Parents need to be fed so they can teach their kids the right things at home (in addition to at church). If the parents aren’t fed on Sundays because they are constantly dealing with their children, then they may not be as equipped to face the week either.

    On the other hand, maybe we all need to learn to ignore distractions more, both onlookers and parents. Maybe we are not as able to do this because we rarely have to practice. Maybe having more younger children being “bad” in church, and more crying babies would in the long run make us people who are less likely to be distracted by “bad” kids and crying babies.

  10. Colin says:

    If a child should be in church at a young age (1-2 years old) then we should assume that they get done understanding from the sermon. If this is true then at what age should children be included in home visits? They should be included there as well do you not think as the children would be able to answer some faith based questions. It may reflect on a truly Christian home if they could give honest answers to the elders and/or deacons.

    • I am not sure if you are provoking with your question or if you are trying to build up. I am not following the logic of a 1 or 2 year old being church and understanding the sermon and including them in home visits. Obviously a child who cannot speak will not understand the sermon and will not be able to answer faith based questions… with that said, I do believe that kids should be included in home visits or at least in a part of them. For one, kids are usually more honest than parents. So when the elder asks how we do family devotions/worship, how often we sing/read the bible or how often we pray, etc. the kids are the ones who will hold the parents accountable which is good for us. For another, the children are also part of the family, why shouldn’t they be included?