Many churches today observe a tradition setting the children apart from the worship service so that the adults can engage and appreciate the music, and hear the message uninterrupted by children who, as they say, cannot understand anyway. Sometimes the children are placed in “kids worship”, while others simply place them in a room to tell bible stories or allow them to play. Why wouldn’t that be a fitting decision at Portage church of Christ today?
God commanded His people to teach His word to children. First, parents were given the commandment to ensure their children were taught about God and his requirements. God’s word was never meant to only be heard by, or learned by, adults. When God told the people to hear the Law read in full every seven years, He commanded that they gather “all Israel” and that included “the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates” and the purpose was so that “that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law.” (Deuteronomy 31:10-13) This is in addition to all of the commands that God gave to the people to teach their children His laws in person. (Deuteronomy 4:9-10; 6:6-7; 11:18-19). Therefore, God’s will is to be publically proclaimed to both young and old alike that they may grow in knowledge. Furthermore, we are not to divide the assembly (1 Cor. 14:26), and this is seen when Paul directly address the youth in the assembly (Eph 6:1, Col 3:20). It is evident from the New Testament that the children were always included in the assembly and worship of the 1st century church.
What we teach our children will impact their future. As soon as children are old enough to understand our words, we begin to teach them how to go “potty”, brush their teeth, and perform the basic functions to become self sufficient and care for themselves. Why is teaching our children the basics of caring for themselves in life more important that caring for themselves spiritually. If we do not train our children when they are young, they are that much more likely to depart from a godly way of living. We have so many good examples of faithful people who learned God’s will when they were young. Therefore, it seems obvious that we should try to invest in that same future. (II Timothy 3:14-17)
We have a dangerous enemy who will devour the ignorant. If you knew for a fact that there was a dangerous person why was actively seeking to kidnap and your children, what precautions would you take? Would you teach them how to be safe? Would you teach them how to avoid danger? How young would be too young to start giving them the tools they would need to survive an encounter with this type of enemy? We have such an enemy, and he is characterized as a “roaring lion seeking those whom he may devour.” (I Peter 5:8) Those who are fooled by His tricks are “taken captive by him at his will”(II Timothy 2:26). Let’s be honest and logical, if our children are taught the scriptures and know the will of God from an early age, they themselves would never send their own children to children’s worship when they are adults. So, how did this all start within the Lord’s church? It is not because one searched the scriptures, but rather because some wanted to be like the people around them, just as Israel desired in 1 Sam 8:20.