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Recently, our family was talking at the dinner table about the daily happenings at school and how it was going with their friends. Conversation eventually landed on our Lord’s Day routine, and my children voiced that our Lord’s Day looked different from the routines described by their peers. Beach trips, birthday parties, and other extracurricular activities seemed to be the common things that filled up their first day of the week. I was saddened but not surprised to hear that such good things in life can so easily creep into, crowd out, and eventually replace worshiping with God’s people on the Lord’s Day. My guess is that this trend is not unique to central Florida but that many people throughout the United States see the same thing happening in their communities. If we as God’s people are going to raise our children to honor and glorify the Lord with their lives, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves for worship (Heb. 10:25), then we need to be purposeful about training our children for worship (Prov. 22:6; Eph. 6:4).

My daughter and I were playing a game using little blocks the other day, and she told me that I move my hands like my mom. While not a significant statement in itself, it does point to a reality that should affect the way we train our children. They learn so much by just watching. They pick up on our movements, our rhythms, and our habits––the good and the bad. I want our children to see the way we as a family prepare for the Lord’s Day, the way we prioritize gathering with God’s people for weekly worship, and the way we participate in worship together as a family.

Think about the last time you prepared for something special, perhaps a dinner, a trip, or an event such as a wedding. In each case there was most likely forethought and planning to ensure schedules, food, clothing, and transportation were all set. This way you can fully engage and be present with those you love during the special event. Similarly, planning for Lord’s Day worship is a most helpful practice that also helps train your children to see the significance of this weekly gathering. Planning can include things such as making sure your Saturday plans, especially in the evening, are conducive to preparing for worship (and getting to bed on time), laying out clothes for your children (or yourself) so that Sunday morning is not rushed, setting the table on Saturday evening so Sunday can be more restful, and reading the passage of Scripture that your pastor plans to use for his sermon so that you and your children are already familiar with it. Even being purposeful about structuring family worship during the week so that certain hymns or the Doxology are more familiar can help children be ready for congregational singing. I understand that preparations for Lord’s Day worship will look different from household to household depending on the age of one’s children, when one’s worship service begins, and other factors, not to mention one’s parenting style. Even so, I believe children will take notice of and benefit from seeing a consistent routine leading up to Lord’s Day worship that is aimed at training them to see the Lord’s Day as the most important day of the week.

The weekly corporate gathering of the body of Christ is a time of discipleship and rejoicing unlike any other during the week.

Summer vacation is a cherished time for many families. School is out, the weather is pleasant, and work seems to slow, leading many to travel to make special memories together. As families travel and make plans, I find it unfortunate that some neglect to gather for worship on vacation. My view is that travel plans should include researching and finding a church in the area you are traveling to so that Lord’s Day worship with the gathered church is still maintained and prioritized. Summer vacation shouldn’t mean we take a break from corporate worship or think sending our kids to Christian camps or Sunday school classes are suitable substitutes for corporate worship. Instead, summer vacation provides opportunities to train your children to understand and appreciate the fact that the body of Christ exists beyond your home church. In addition, worshiping with a different body of believers will likely provoke good discussions on what you learned from the Word of God, the marks of a true church, and differences in worship styles.

As members of the local church, we must teach our children what God-honoring participation in worship looks like. Participation means we are gathered together in one place, at a set time, for one purpose—to worship God—as we sing, pray, listen, and respond with one voice to the victorious work of Christ for His beloved. Showing up on time (if not a little before) with minds and hearts ready to participate sounds simple and easy, yet it can be hard, especially for families with younger children. However, the effort it takes to persevere in sitting together as a family in worship will greatly benefit your children and the rest of the congregation and will glorify the Lord. Hard seasons may come, and tears and frustration are not uncommon for parents in this area. But when weary, we should bring our cares to the Lord in prayer, remember the Lord’s patience with us, and set reasonable expectations for our children with input and wisdom from other parents.

Oh, how we all would love to see the children in our churches, the next generation, love the Lord, walk with the Lord, and value and cherish the weekly corporate gathering of the body of Christ. It is a time of discipleship and rejoicing unlike any other during the week, where we learn, fellowship, and worship our risen Savior Jesus Christ, rest in His finished work, and long for His return. As parents, we have a great responsibility to train our children toward this end, so let us depend on God’s mercy and grace, for He is the One who works in His children’s hearts (John 3:3) and puts a new song in their mouths (Ps. 40:3).

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From the May 2021 Issue
May 2021 Issue