1811 Lincoln Ave
Evansville IN 47714
Phone: (812) 476-9991
Worship in Spirit and Truth
(or Why Do We Have to Go to Church?)
Every kid and every parent is going to have a time or multiple times when they do not want to go to worship. Worship is boring until you really understand what you are doing and why. There are two very important sides to every worship service: what you give and what you get. Teach this to your children as soon as they are ready and try to model it yourself.
First, we have something to give to God that He both wants and deserves. God is so good to us and He loves us so much. He desires us to worship Him from the heart. To really appreciate that you are doing this, it is important to understand and believe that God is right there with us during a worship service. Remind your kids and yourself every time you come to worship that God is here. Have them treat the Sanctuary as a special, holy place. Train them not to run around in the Sanctuary. If they are making a fuss, walk them out and remind them that this is where we meet with God and that they can go back in only when they are ready. Teach them that everything we say and sing, we say and sing to God because we love Him.
Second, God has important things to give us that we need. He wants to teach us, forgive us, strengthen us, give us Jesus and love us. Without these things we will grow weak in our faith or worse. So when we come to worship we are looking for these things to come to us. We are not there simply for entertainment or to do our duty.
These things are not complicated, but they are easily forgotten. Make a habit of reviewing these things with the whole family before worship. Giving yourself enough time to get settled, review why we are here, mark the readings and the hymns and saying a prayer makes the worship experience complete and enjoyable.
Memory: John 4:23-24
“Yet a time is coming when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and truth.”
The Invocation is based on a promise of Jesus that where two or more are gathered in His name, there He is among them.
With Your Kids
When your children are old enough to participate a little in the service (3yrs old and above for this), tell them about this promise, teach them how to make the sign of the cross over their heart (there is no correct way to do it), and have them think about Jesus being here to hear our prayers and songs.
The Bible readings are at a high school level, so most younger children will struggle with them. However, at this point of the service you can set a great example that can be followed by even the youngest child. Look up each of the three readings. Show your child how to find the book in the index. Show them how to look up chapter and verse. This is best done before the service, because the readers don’t necessarily leave time for this.
Let your children follow the reading, by having you follow the reader with your finger in the text. Encourage them to learn the responses that go with our readings and to stand for the Gospel.
Encourage your child to listen to the reading and ask about it later. If they don’t understand a word, encourage them to have you define it for them or look it up together.
The sermon is not geared to the level of little kids, but they may understand more than you would think. We almost always provide a sermon outline and two questions at the end of the outline that can serve as a discussion starter once your children are old enough to participate.
The biggest thing that you can teach your child early about the sermon is how to be an attentive listener: look up the bible passages, bring your own bible rather than use the pew bible and make notes either in your bible or on the outline. After service discuss the questions with your spouse. Your child will learn that the sermon is meant to be an active versus passive event.
Did you miss church for an unavoidable reason? Go back the website and listen through the sermon. Let your child see that you are serious about your discipleship. If you found a sermon to be particularly helpful, send a link to the sermon through social media, email or text to a friend. Show your child how to do that (or possibly ask them how to do that).
The Lord's Supper
We encourage you to have your kids come up with you to the communion rail during the Lord’s Supper. They will receive a blessing at that time. Explain that they will receive communion when they are older and after confirmation instruction. They will no doubt be curious about the words, “body and blood”. You can tell them that Jesus gives us His real body and blood, but in a way that we only taste bread and wine.
Model for them that you regard the Lord’s Supper to be holy. If you convey that you are distracted or impatient, this will become their attitude. As kids get closer to confirmation age, you can discuss the meaning of the Lord’s Supper using resources like the Small Catechism, statements in the bulletin or discussions posted on our website.
Hymns and Songs
Singing is one of the primary ways that we give God the worship He deserves. Singing a hymn isn’t automatically worship, however. True worship is genuine. It is spirit as John 4 says. The words of the song or hymn also have to be true. They need to be inspired by the Bible.
With Your Kids
Here are some suggestions on how to teach your child to worship using song:
1. Learn some simple praise songs by memory
2. Teach them how to sing from a hymnal by following the words or the music with your finger
3. Speak often about singing to God
4. (More advanced) Try to identify what Bible passages were the basis for lines in a hymn.
5. Make a game out of finding a new word in the hymns that you sing. Look up the word in a dictionary together.
6. Pick out your favorite hymn from those sung in worship that day. Discuss what it talked about.
7. Find out what hymns are going to be used during the week before worship and sing them together.
The Benediction is a blessing that comes from the Old Testament. It is the words that Aaron (Moses’ brother) was instructed to use to bless the Israelites. It is easy to memorize, and since you will hear it over and over again, I would encourage you to memorize the words with your kids.