For the sake of “relevance” many churches separate the generations for corporate worship. This may do more harm than good. Consider making a way for the generations to worship together.
Family ministry is like a snowball. The more you roll with it the bigger it gets. We have found this to be true for our ministry at Kingsland. What began as a strategy to become intentional about helping families is now effecting how we experience corporate worship. You got it… the big room. The infamous, “Big Church.”
As a church embracing “milestones” as our discipleship strategy from preschool ministry to adulthood, we value family and we understand the importance of parents in the faith training process. We work hard to help parents become the primary faith influencers of the next generation. We do our best to create environments at church to empower families with their kids and give them a win.
About a year ago my wife and I were sitting in worship and we took communion. All of the sudden we realized our kids were not experiencing communion with us because they were in “Kidz Church.” Not only that, but no parent in the room had their kids with them. In fact at our church, for worship, you could check your kids at the door when they are in preschool and not see them again until they graduate from High School. Ouch. How did we miss that?
Why Should Families Worship Together?
There are many clearly biblical reasons supporting families worshipping together at church. Allow me, however, to focus on some intensely practical reasons.
- Worship is full of God Sightings. Every time you celebrate communion, observe a baptism, lift your hands as you sing, our hear the Word of God, parents have a chance to teach their children about God
- Worship together creates a common experience for Faith Talks. If the Pastor preached about Noah that day and the whole family hears it, parents have common ground for faith talks with their children and youth.
- Worship together gives families the opportunity to be together at church for family moments like Mother’s day, Father’s day, Christmas, and Easter.
- Kids need to experience multi-generational worship. This blows away the idea that “church is for kids” and allows children the opportunity to see senior adults, parents, youth , and children worshiping together. That’s a lot like Heaven!
How Can We Make it Happen?
At my church this is a complicated scenario. It might be in yours too. Our Sunday morning worship ministry plan is geared to operate in age level compartments. We are changing that slowly. In 2010 we are organizing our Sunday morning youth ministry strategy so that middle- schoolers and high-schoolers can worship together with their families. In 2011 We will only have children’s worship through third grade allowing 4th and 5th graders to worship together with their families. In reality, this is a lot of work behind the scenes. We will have to help parents gain a vision for worshiping together at church. We will have to reorganize to make it happen. We will have to communicate with a broader audience in worship. We will even have to creatively make space in our worship venues to accommodate the extra people. The effort will be so worth it.
It’s true. Some families may never choose to worship together. Our goal is to make it possible. It will be up to families as to whether they sit together, worship in the same room at the same time, or go to different worship services. It will be up to parents to capture the God sightings and use Faith Talks that pour out of corporate worship. On the church side of things, we are offering parents another way to lead their children spiritually. I believe they will love it in the long run.
 To discover biblical reasons for families worshipping together read “Do Children Belong in Church” by Rob Rienow, family pastor at Wheaton Bible Church http://www.visionaryparenting.com/vpchurch.htm
4 thoughts on “Together Worship: An Old New Idea”
I’m so happy to read this! We’ve been wondering what we would do when our kids got older. I’ve been reading “Parenting in the Pew,” and desperately want my kids with me. Although they are currently 4, 1 and almost here, I long for communal worship at the church. We’ve taken our 4 year old a few times (when Daddy plays trombone, Easter, Christmas, special times when friends walk forward), but it’s hard! I can’t imagine all 3 at once, but I know as parents, I’m called to train them in everything, including worship!
Thank you for this Brian. Chris and I have been trying to decide what to do with Chloe. She likes to worship with us, and so we began to bring her with us into “big” church. It has in some ways been a challenge, and so we have often wondered if we are doing the right thing. She listens to the beginning of the sermon, (especially when you told the story of Esther), but she rarely pays attention through the whole thing. However, she does enjoy the music and after I drill her at lunch, we usually realize that she’s picked up on more than we thought. We have been contemplating if what she is getting in “big church” outweighs the relevance of kidz church. You’ve given us more to think about! Thanks!