Equipping The Generations: Some Practical Suggestions For Worshiping Together As A Family -- By: Noël Piper
JDFM 3:1 (Fall 2012) p. 88
Equipping The Generations: Some Practical Suggestions For Worshiping Together As A Family
Noël Piper travels for missions and speaking as often and as far as possible and she is steadily involved with ministries and activities of Joni and Friends, both locally and internationally. She has been married to John Piper since 1968. They have four sons and a daughter, four daughters-in-law, and an increasing number of grandchildren. Their children grew up in Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, where John has been a pastor since 1980.
Reprinted from DesiringGod.org. Used by permission.
When our four sons grew to be young men, we assumed that the worship-training chapter of our life had ended. But God has wonderful surprises. Our youngest son was twelve when we adopted our daughter, who was just a couple of months old. So our experience with young children in the pew continued a while longer.
Getting Started Step By Step
We discovered that the very earliest “school” for worship is in the home—when we help a baby be quiet for just a moment while we ask God’s blessing on our meal; when a toddler is sitting still to listen to a Bible story book; when a child is learning to pay attention to God’s Word and to pray during family devotional times.
At church, even while our children were still nursery-aged, I began to help them take steps toward eventual regular attendance in Sunday morning worship service. I used other gatherings as a training ground—baptisms, choir concerts, missionary videos or other special events that would grab the attention of a three-year-old. I’d “promote” these to the child as something exciting and grown-up. The occasional special attendance gradually developed into regular evening attendance, while at the same time we were beginning to attempt Sunday mornings more and more regularly.
I’ve chosen not to use the church’s child care as an escape route when the service becomes long or the child gets restless. I don’t want to communicate that you go to a service as long as it seems interesting, and then you can go play. And I wanted to avoid a pattern that might reinforce the idea that all of the service is good, up until the preaching of God’s Word—then you can leave.
Of course, there are times when a child gets restless or noisy, despite a parent’s best efforts. I pray for the understanding of the people around me, and try to deal with the problem unobtrusively. But if the child won’t be quiet or still, I take him or her out—for the sake of quick discipline and for the sake of the other worshipers. Then I have to decide whether we’ll slip back into service or stay in the area reserved for parents ...
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