Distinctive Doctrines (03) - Children in Worship and Education
“For I have chosen him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice; in order that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him” (Gen. 18:19). “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up” (Deut. 6:7). “For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 and all ate the same spiritual food; 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ” (1 Cor. 10:1–4).
In this series, the elders asked me to address important areas for us. The topics I have chosen are key topics and very important distinctives for our community and our community of churches: worldview (two weeks ago), worship (last week), children (today), headship, and eschatology. We started with Christian worldview, moved to proper worship of the Triune God, now how we raise our family in reflection on that. The topic today springs logically from the previous two: How are children to participate in such worship? It also springs from our first topic: worldview. How are children to be trained in a Christian worldview?
The children of believers are included in the covenant God made with Abraham (as well as all biblical covenants), and in the new covenant. This very strongly implies two things: Christian children are to fully participate in worship and be trained in a biblical worldview. Because of this certain sacraments, blessings, and responsibilities follow. This is the ordinary way that the Kingdom of Christ operates.
Therefore, every person who grows up in a Christian home should be taught God’s Word from their earliest times. We are to raise our children “in the discipline (paideia, culture/worldview) and instruction (nouthesia, counsel) of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). Just like Timothy, each Christian child should be exhorted to “continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them; and that from childhood (brephos, infancy) you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:14-15).
Therefore, the covenantal inclusion of children is Biblical and implies full participation in worship, even communion. Baptized children should be viewed as in the new covenant and should be called to the worldview maturity and all this implies.
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more