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Practical Tips

for Trainin.g Very

Young Children to
Stay in Worship
Ruling Elder and Mrs. Sonny Anderson'
"There was not a word of all that ]'vIoses
commanded, which Joshua read not before all
the congregation of Israel, with the women, a1ld
the little ones (toddlers) .... " Josh. 8:3'i.
"And all Judah stood
before the Lord,
with their little ones,
their wives, and their
children." II Chron.
"Also that day
they offered grea t
sacrifices, and rejoiced:
for God had made
them rejoice with great
joy: the wives also and
the children (infants)
rejoiced .... " Neh. 12:
"Gather the people, sanctify the congregatioll,
assemble the elders, gather the children, and
those that suck the breasts .... " Joel 2: 16
"Suffer the little children to come unto me, and
forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of
God." Mark 10: 14. See also i\fatt. 19: 14; Luke
1. Attend worship regularly, and sing, pray, and read
Scripture at home, while they are still in the womb
and can hear what is in their immediate environment
just outside the womb.
2. Pray for your children from their earliest days.
3. Keep them in worship (near the door) as much as
possible, especially during the music. Most babies are
much quieter when music is playillg.
4. Read regularly to them from their earliest elms.
5. Begin consistent family worship at a very young age.
Ideally, this should begin by the time they are 9-
10 months old, but do not despair if your child is
much older. Apply the same Biblical principles of
discipline and prayer to the older child and, by God's
grace, they can make fast progress.
(a) Require them to sit in your lap and discipline them
to be quiet, for only a minute or two at first, then
gradually increasing the time.
(b) Teach (tell) them very plainly and repetitively what
the words "be quiet" mean (i.e., no noises, crying
or talking), but do not require quiet for too long in
the beginning.
(c) Do not require them to be completely still at first,
but only to sit in your lap.
(d) Give them spanks
(age-appropriate pops, but
they must have a sufficient
"sting") when they do not
obey your direction to be
quiet. "He that spareth his
rod hateth his son: but he
that loveth him chasteneth
him betimes." Pray. 13:24.
(e) Do not give them
"second chances" to
be quiet, as very young
children do not understand
and instead learn that they do not always have to
be quiet when you say so.
6. Apply the same rules during corporate
church worship once you conclude that
they are ready to be quiet for the length of
a sermon, eventually requiring them to be
very still only after being quiet on your lap is
(a) Instruct them as to the reason for being quiet,
i.e, to honor God in worship, and to not prevent
other people from worshipping Him. "The rod
and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to
himself bringeth his mother to shame." Pray. 29:
(b) Whenever they talk or cry out, immediately
remove them from worship and spank them,
unless they are in a condition of physical sickness
or recovering from an injury. "Chasten thy son
while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for
Trailling VeI)l Yol/llg Children to St'!)l ill Worship
his crying." Provo 19:18.
(c) Use your church's cry room, or ask your church to
begin providing one.
(d) Try to make sure they have had a good sleep the
previous night, but do not prevent them from going
to sleep during worship until they are much older.
The emotion of discipline may make them sleepy,
and they can still hear the worship and realize that
they were in worship.
(e) Do not require dlem to be quiet and completely still
through both Lord's Day services for a while. You
may want to let them stand up, have a snack, or play
with a silent toy in the cry room during the second
service, but they should still be quiet.
7. Remember that your children, although sinful and
foolish in their hearts (prov. 22:15), are fearfully and
wonderfully made (psa. 139:14-15), are in God's
covenant (I Cor. 7:14), and, with a steady and loving
hand of discipline, can usually quickly learn much more
than they are given credit for. And they were made
for worship, the most important activity they will ever
"Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou
beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt
beat him widl the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from
helL" Provo 23:13,14.
I Mr. Anderson is a Ruling Elder in the
Providence Reformed Presbyterian Church
Conyers, Ga.
2Neh. 8:2-3 (10:28-29), "all who could hear with
understanding" does not contradict the verses which
indicate that covenant children were ordinarily present
in worship, 10:35-36, 12:43. Neh. 13.23-24 explains the
context of "understanding." The problem was that many
of the Israelites who had been in captivity no longer knew
or spoke Hebrew, thus they needed interpreters. ''All who
could understand" refers to the interpreters, Neh. 8:7-8,
12. Derek Kidner, in his commentary on Ezra - Nehemiah,
says that the Law of God had always envisioned a wise and
understanding people taught from childhood not only the
words of God but what the words and rituals meant (Ex.
12:26ff, Dt. 4:6, 6:6ff, 31 :12f.) and present in the worship
of God, Goshua 8:35, 2 Chron. 23:13. Joel 2:16). Wayne
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