Some more good stuff on children & worship from Piper (this sermon is called, “The Children of the Church and the Chosen“:
There are three reasons, at least, why I have urged that, at the latest, from first grade on the children join their parents in worship. First, we live in a day in which pressures from all sides are on the family to be fractured and atomized. Fathers are worked to a frazzle and so are too dogged to spend quality time with children; mothers are lured away from their little children to the work force; children have their own activities, and the one thing that pulls them all to the same room makes zombies out of them all: the television. Stir into this a general cultural mood of “me first,” and my rights and my self-realization, and you have got a powerful anti-family milieu. In this atmosphere, the church, as the preserver of biblical principles, must find ways to say “no” to these pressures and affirm the depth and beauty of familial bonds. But where and how? It seems to me that the high point of our corporate life together is the place to start. Let’s make worship a family affair as much as we can.
Second, five-, six-, seven- and eight-year-olds will gain tremendously from being in worship. Many six-year-olds have made professions of faith after sitting through a worship service. But even where most of the sermon goes over their heads, the children profit. They learn more theology and piety from the hymns than we realize, they come to be comfortable and at home with the form of the service, they experience from time-to-time the large and awesome moments of quietness or the blast of an organ prelude or fervor of an old man’s prayer. Week-after-week they see hundreds of adults bowed in worship, and unless we teach them otherwise, they will grow up thinking, “This is where I belong on Sunday morning, and this is the way one behaves in Sunday worship.” It will never enter their heads that not being there is a possibility if we expect it of them and insist on their right behavior.
Which leads me to my third reason for wanting the children in worship. I want us, as a church, to say, “No!” to the lackadaisical attitudes toward child training and the harmfully low expectations placed upon children in our day. Paul said in I Timothy 3:4 that a bishop or elder must “manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way.” And if it is required for elders and deacons (v. 12), it is an ideal for all. Children are to be kept submissive and respectful in everything. The opposite of submissiveness is insubordination or disobedience. Therefore, little children ought to be trained to obey implicitly, with no back-talk and no dawdling. It is a travesty of biblical parenthood when children are told to do something or stop doing something and then disobey, but nothing happens, except perhaps an irritated repetition of the command and then maybe after two or three of those, a burst of anger. Children who disobey ought to be spanked, without rage or vindictiveness or humiliation, but swiftly, consistently and severely, according to the circumstances, until they obey. The proverb will never cease to be wisdom: “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” The expectation that a six-year-old sit quietly to the honor of God one or two hours a week is not a high expectation, and we should demand it of our children.
For those three reasons, I would like to see our worship services become family affairs. I think it accords with the principles of Scripture, and is needed especially in our day.