Sometimes people ask me why we include children in our Sunday morning worship service, rather than send them to a separate program. The reason is a biblical one. It appears that children participated in the corporate worship of the churches from the beginning. On three occasions (maybe more), Scripture indicates that children were present in the congregation, along with adults, when preaching and teaching occurred.
Apostles wrote letters to churches, and churches read these letters when they gathered together for corporate worship. So when these letters speak to certain groups of people, we should assume that those groups were present when the congregation listened to the letter. Were children present, or were they taken away to a separate room or location?
- Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor your father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) that it may be well with you, and you may live long on the earth. (Ephesians 6:1-3)
- Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. (Colossians 3:20)
- I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake … I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father. (1 John 2:12-13)
Based upon verses like these, I believe it is important for young children to participate along with adults in the corporate worship of a church.
Does this include infants? Maybe not. These verses speak to children who are old enough to hear these instructions and obey them. So our church provides a separate Sunday School class for children five years and younger, and a nursery for infants. Children who are in kindergarten and older should able to sit, listen, worship and respond to God with the rest of us (Matt. 19:14)!