mgpcpastor's blog

Children Learn Worship By Observation

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Ah, the joy of having a new baby around the place on a regular basis again.
It reminds you of a lot that can easily be forgotten.
He sits at our dinner table.
He is present during our interactions.
He is there while we go through our routines, simple or complex.
And he watches. And learns.
That’s how humans are wired.
He’s far more interested in our food than what his parents try to feed him.
Our conversations are punctuated with his best efforts to join in.
The look of cheeky triumph as he grasps a television remote or climbs up on his knees, wanting to share his new freedom with those who he has seen exercising it.
In church he’s even started vocalising when we all sing.
Zac Hicks interacts with James K A Smith and makes some observation about corporate worship, the presence of children and how worship is something that is learnt by observation and emulation.
An excerpt:

You can imagine that, at a church like ours, we have lots of healthy, passionate conversations on staff and leadership levels about how our kids are engaging or not engaging our worship services. When we wrestle through feelings that our kids are not engaging, the first card that usually gets flipped is the child development card. “Kids are just not at a point in their development to be able to grasp and imbibe certain aspects of our worship (preaching is often mentioned here),” we say. Responding to this, churches often adopt one of three postures: (1) too bad, the kids stay in and hopefully learn to “grow into” it; (2) have the kids depart the service for some or all of the time for a more age-appropriate activity; or (3) change an aspect (or, in rare cases, all) of the service to be more kid-friendly.
All of this, however, hinges on a certain understanding of learning which is challenged by James K. A. Smith in his book, Desiring the Kingdom. Firstly, what if we owned up to the fact that some, or even much, of Christian worship is not something that kids can fully grasp at their stage of development, and that worship for them is just “going through the motions?” But, secondly, what if we had a learning theory broad enough to include “going through the motions” as a strong and valuable part of the formational process of learning?
In other words, what if our kids are shaped by the acts, structure, and flow of worship (including the sermon) even if they don’t understand it all? What if the rote prayers, the stand-up-sit-down, the confession, the Doxology, the singing, the Call to Worship, the reading and preaching of the Scriptures, and Communion have a formative quality to them not only as they are understood cognitively (which is important for the most full-orbed experience, by the way) but also as they are enacted by the people of God?
Read the whole post here.

One thought on “Children Learn Worship By Observation

  1. Pingback: Negative Nellie | Mrs. City Boy

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