As anyone that’s been a parent knows, it’s hard work and a great responsibility. There’s even an increased responsibility for Christian parents to raise their children in the fear and discipline of the Lord, with the goal that, by God’s grace, they will profess the faith with their own mouths. Every Christian parent desires this, and so do we at WRC. The question becomes, “How shall we nurture children in the Christian faith?” Scripture informs our answer in two key ways: first, by the nature of God’s covenant, and, second, by the nature of Sunday worship.
The Lord is a covenant-making and covenant-keeping God, and it is by covenant that He has distinguished His His people from the world. God covenanted with His People in the Garden, which Adam and Woman transgressed. But He quickly re-established His People by a gracious covenant promise upon their exile from the Garden. This “Covenant of Grace” became formal with Abraham and his household (Gen. 15 & 17). After the Passover, He turned the Abrahamic people into a nation-state, called Israel. This, too, was accomplished by way of covenant (Exod. 19-24; Deuteronomy). On the day of Pentecost, after the ascension of Jesus, the new covenant was inaugurated, which distinguishes us from the world.
The reason this informs our view of children is that God has always incorporated the children of believers into His covenant people, from the Garden (before the Fall) until now. Although young children are unable to express mature faith, God graciously includes them anyway. Throughout the Old Testament, under the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants, God promised believers and their children, “I will be your God, and you will be my people.” Under the new covenant, we see the same household principle expressed, as the Apostles and other ministers baptized households when parents professed faith. At Pentecost, Peter told his Jewish audience that forgiveness and the promised Spirit are “for you and for your children.” The children of believers are members of the covenant; they are members of the church.
Participating in a church service is the primary way this covenant membership is exercised. It is also the primary way by which Jesus feeds your child’s soul and brings him or her to a mature profession of faith. Our children are church members prior to a mature faith, but they must make profession of faith later, when they develop the maturity to do so. Hearing the Bible read and preached in worship is God’s primary way of bringing this about, along with their participation in the rest of the service.
But we also recognize that having children, especially toddlers, in a service can be very difficult. Therefore, we have set up a room that is adjacent to our sanctuary as a “cry room.” Feel free to take younger children in there and let them walk and crawl all over. They (and you) can still see and hear the service without being heard. There will likely be others in there, as well. Our hope is that, over time, these covenant children can be introduced gradually into the worship of God’s covenant people and participate insofar as their maturity allows. After all, the Lord is their God, and they are His People, as well.