What Can Infants Really Get Out of Church?

Let me illustrate how valuable it is for a child to be included in corporate worship in the church. Many years ago, there was a family in our church who needed some help with their children during the church services as a result of a new baby and lots of little ones. My wife Deborah offered to hold their one-year-old in church. She held that child and had her sit with her for about two years. She is now twelve-years-old, and the other day I asked her what she remembered most about that time in her life. Without pausing an instant she said, “The thing I remember the most was when the pastor would say something aunt Deborah loved, or if there was a song she cherished or if a prayer was prayed, she would say, “Mmmmm, amen.” This was what she was able to get out of being in church when she was an infant. She added, “When my aunt Deborah would sigh like that, I did the same thing.”

It must be acknowledged that children get something out of everything they experience. This is the nature of discipleship. It is progressive. So we should abandon the idea that “my child gets nothing out of big church.” This is subterfuge and misinformation. Plus, nobody gets everything out of anything, particularly a sermon. We may say, “Our children don’t get anything out of the services,” but we can’t really believe it. We get goose bumps when we sing to our children while they are in the womb. We believe that the sounds and even the attitudes surrounding them are affecting their development process. Some people play classical music to their children in the womb, and some even contend that just hearing it makes their kids smarter outside the womb. They listen to our conversation, but don’t think for a minute that everything goes over their heads. Children get something out of everything they experience. This is why there is great value, even for a very young child, to experience authentic worship in the church.

Something is being communicated as they watch their fathers give of the family resources during the offering. As they grow up, their understanding will increase.

Something is being transferred, as they watch the adults “worship the Father in spirit and truth” (John 4:23). They don’t get everything, but they can get something as they are observing the fervency and genuineness of the church’s expression of love for God.

Children progressively understand what a parent and the wider church members love and appreciate. Year after year, their understanding builds. Year after year, the well is filling up.

What effect does the teaching of the Word have on a child? Only God knows what a child gets from the teaching or the praying or the singing. Only God knows what a child gets out of seeing men standing up and speaking of the things of God. Only God knows what a child gets out of experiencing Christian community.