James Boice on Children and Worship

The goal we should ymnsave with our children is to bring them up to the level of the adults; that is, to enable them to begin to function on an adult level in their relationships to God.

We have thought about this challenge at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia and have developed a few ideas that we find work pretty well.

First, we keep the children in church from a much younger age than we used to do. We still take the very little ones out for the parents’ sake as much as for theirs. We don’t want excessive distractions for anyone. But we keep the children in church from the second grade up. They can read at this age as well as participate, and we think it is good for our families to be worshiping together.

Second, we prepare a children’s bulletin which the children pick up when the adults receive theirs. The children’s bulletin contains the text of such service items as the Apostles’ Creed, and there are side bars and added texts with arrows to explain what various words or phrases occurring in the service mean. The third page contains a one paragraph summary of the sermon with several questions about it for the older children and a “word alert” section for those who are younger. “Word alert” lists words they can listen for.

Third, both the organist and I come to the opening exercises of the Sunday School to talk about the sermon and the hymns. I explain what I am going to be talking about and what the children should look for. I even ask them to pray that people who are not Christians may hear what God has to say and be converted. The organist tells about the hymns we will sing, who wrote them, and why we sing them as we do.

James Montgomery Boice was a theologian, Bible teacher, and pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia from 1968 until his death.