Early in the year I did a series called Set Your Minds which focused on preparing your minds for Sunday morning worship. I want to begin a new series focusing on training up our children in worship.
The Lord blesses families with children. But, with the blessing comes responsibility. God created man so that we will choose to worship and praise Him. How shall our children grow up to know to do that unless they are taught?
“Train up a child in the way he should go, And even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6.
We’ve heard it before. It has become a part of the common vernacular, especially within the church. But what isn’t clear in this verse is when does this training begin? Too often, I think new mom’s are so in love with their babes that they only want to protect and coddle them. This is natural and understandable, especially when they are little babies. Those babies don’t stay babes for very long though.
Before you know it those little ones begin to talk, walk and demand attention. Not just attention for what they need, but attention for what they WANT. Our role in their lives are dynamic. We must be tender hearted, gentle, loving and disciplinarians. That means, we must discipline our children.
The word discipline means to disciple, to follow, esp. to follow Christ. So as we teach our children, and train them up, keep in mind that we do so with discipleship in mind. This begins the moment they come into our lives. A child is under their parents direct care for less than 20 years in most cases. That is a short amount of time when we consider the scope of the child’s life.
Training Up in Worship the Series
This series will focus on ways to ‘train up‘ in worship. I hope to offer you some practical advice. I realize that every family is different, every child is different and comes with their own unique set of circumstances.
Perhaps what works for one will not work for all. But I have seen success in these tips that I’ll be sharing with my own child as well as with some of our foster children from several years ago. I’ve seen friends use some of these tips with their own children with success as well.
“Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.” – Proverbs 20:11.
The earlier we begin to teach our children to walk in His ways, the better our chances are that they will walk in His ways later in life. If we make Him a part of their lives from the very start and we do not waiver in our resolve, then He becomes their Father in their own minds from early on.
Training Begins from Infancy
The goal is not to teach your children how to sit down and be quiet in worship. That part will come naturally, the goal is to teach them to be active participants in the worship assembly. It can happen. It should happen. And it starts as soon as they are able to sit up on your lap.
Your first step should be to go to God in prayer about your infant. Pray for wisdom in the training up of your little one. Pray for guidance as you teach them. Ask for discernment to know what is appropriate to teach and what is not at each stage of their development, including and especially as you train them in worship.
Worship Training Begins as Soon as They are Old Enough to Sit on Your Lap
You may be thinking, ‘How can this be?’ Rest assured, I am not a militant mom who thinks their 3 month old will hold a Bible and sing on cue. But, I fully believe babies are being trained from the moment they are conceived.
They hear their mama’s voice and come to trust the sound and timbre of it. Then they are born and begin to find rest and comfort in her arms. When our babes begin chattering we begin teaching them sounds and words. This usually happens pretty early. By around 3-4 months babes begin mimicking sounds.
This time, from birth to about 5 years the child is learning and adapting at a much faster rate of speed than any other time in their lives. It is critical to their growth and development that the proper foundations are laid. This is true of the worship foundations as well.
Worship is a time that is sanctified and holy. It is a time that is Set Apart, different, from any other part of our lives, and it should be for your babe as well. Can they participate at this age? No, I am not suggesting that. But they will take their cues from you.
You are their role model and they are watching and adapting to every move you make. When you sing in worship, they notice. When you are quiet in prayer they notice. Many times they will begin to chatter for attention.
This is where you have a choice. Do you ignore the chatter and continue in prayer? Do you put a binky in the mouth and go back to prayer? Do you focus on the babe and try to give them anything to get them quiet? My suggestion is remember your goal. To train this child in worship, even at this age. Perhaps you give them a bottle or binky, and go back to your prayer. You are teaching them gently that chatter isn’t appropriate at this time, and that you will care for them, but you will not give in to their wanting attention.
As the baby get’s a little older (6 months and older) and can begin to chew, add in Cheerios. I don’t recommend sugary snacks. Just something that is easily chewed and quiet to get out. The reason for this is not to give your child breakfast. The use of the Cheerios is a tool for discipline (discipleship, training). Breakfast should be given at home, or in the car, before you go into the worship assembly. Of course, if you still have a nursing babe, you should by all means, take them to the nursery of other designated location and feed your little ones.
Whenever chatter begins, quietly place a cheerio or 2 in their mouth, make the shhh sign with your finger so that they see it. Repetition is key, and will continue to be paramount for the next several years.
Slowly, they will begin to understand that this is a time of quietness. A word of caution. Don’t let the child use the snack to control you. Later, I will go into some details on how and when to stop using snacks altogether.
What tips might you have concerning the training of infants in worship?
This post is the 1st part of my Training Up in Worship Series.
*Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.