Ministry to Children

LORD’S DAY WORSHIP

Emmaus’ approach to ministering to children is different than many other churches in that we do not provide a separate service for them during corporate worship. At first glance, this might seem like we are indifferent to children and their spiritual well being, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. We believe that Jesus cares for the young and calls them to worship his name. There is no better way for our children to worship our Lord than through the means of grace that God has ordained. We believe that God has called both young and old to worship him through the teaching of His word by qualified and appointed men, observance of the ordinances (baptism and Lord’s Super), fellowship, and prayer. Below, and on our Ministry to Parents page, you will find information and resources regarding our approach to children’s ministry.

CATECHISM

The word catechism comes from the Greek word Katēcheō which simply means, “to instruct systematically; by questions, answers, and explanations and corrections.” We find this word in scripture when Paul says in Galatians 6:6, “One who is taught (Katēcheō) the word must share all good things with the one who teaches (Katēcheō)”. In 1 Corinthians 14:19 he says, “Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct (Katēcheō) others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.” In Luke 1:4 Luke explains that he wrote his book so that, “4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught (Katēcheō).” Katēcheō, or catechism, is the means by which one methodically instructs a believer about the truths of scripture.

Catechism is a means to an end. It is one of many tools we can use to teach our children to “observe all that [Christ has] commanded” (Matthew 28:20). We must never forget that there is not power in the catechism itself. No sermon, curriculum, or systematic study of scripture can change a person. The heart change that we desire to see in our children comes only from the Father, through the Holy Spirit, because of what Christ accomplished on the cross. While God is sovereign in redeeming and transforming His people, He has chosen His church to be a part of the process. Therefore, we have the responsibility to make every effort bring our children up in the “discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). The catechism is an effective means by which this process can take place.

Emmaus Christian Fellowship has combined and adapted the Westminster Shorter Catechism of 1647 (WSC) and the Baptist Catechism of 1693 to reflect our theological beliefs. The majority of the questions and answers are taken from the WSC in the form of its modern English translation. From there we have replaced the Westminster’s questions and answers concerning baptism, specifically infant baptism, with the doctrinal standards from the Baptist Catechism which teaches that baptism is only administered to those who make a personal confession of faith in Jesus Christ. In addition, the WSC doctrinal standards on the Lord’s Supper have been replaced with the Baptist standards as they use words and terms that communicate the biblical theology more clearly.

SUNDAY SCHOOL

Sunday school will be offered for children grades K-5 during Emmaus Essentials (9-9:45 on Sundays). The teaching will center upon the catechism question that was introduced in the worship service on the previous Sunday along with selected scripture texts.

HOUSEHOLD WORSHIP GUIDE

While it is true that the people of God are to gather corporately to worship on the Lord’s Day (Hebrews 10:24-25), the scriptures also imply that we are to worship God in our homes between each Lord’s day (Deuteronomy 6:7). Emmaus’ weekly Household Worship Guide provides structure to lead singles, married couples, and families with children of all ages in the daily worship of God within the home. The guide simply encourages Christians to read, pray, and sing. In addition, the elder’s of Emmaus encourage the use of the Baptist Catechism for systematic instruction in the Christian faith.

Household Worship Guide

Why has Emmaus chosen to keep children in the entire church service and not provide a separate gathering for them?

Emmaus believes that God has ordained the church to be multigenerational. Therefore, when the church gathers together for worship the entire congregation, young to old shall gather together to worship the Lord. We find this evident in the early church. Paul, in Ephesians chapter 5 and 6, speaks to husbands, wives, and children regarding their roles and responsibilities in the family. This letter to the Ephesians was passed from church to church and was read and taught during their worship service. Paul specifically addresses the children that would be present in the service, “children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 ‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 ‘that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.’” If children were not present within the regular church service Paul would have never formally addressed them regarding their responsibility to their parents.

What are the benefits of keeping children in the service?

To teach children how to worship – Worshiping God does not come natural to us. We must be taught how to worship God. Children are very observant and learn much from watching and listening to things around them. As children listen and watch during the service they begin to develop an understanding on how to worship God through prayer, song, teaching, and the Lord’s Supper. Children first learn from observing. Having children worship with their parents builds the foundation that they can build upon as they cognitively develop. As the weeks, months, and years progress so does our children’s ability to comprehend and participate in the corporate worship of God.

To provide an opportunity for parents to assess the spiritual state of their child – worshiping with your child allows parents to observe how they respond to the various phases of a service – song, prayers, teaching of the Word, etc. These observations can provide great opportunities for parents to affirm what they have witnessed and inquire further to help foster spiritual growth.

What methods can I use to teach my child to behave appropriately during the service?

Strategic Seating – Sitting in a section away from your child’s friends could help eliminate unnecessary distractions. Depending on the age, sitting near the front allows the child to see easier making them feel more involved in the service and puts fewer distractions in front of them.

Divide And Conquer – Separating children with an adult or older mature sibling in between can help manage and keep children engaged in the service.

Solicit Help From Others – While God has placed the responsibility of raising a child upon the parents, He has also given us the church to help and support one another. Soliciting the help of others in the congregation to sit with you and your children can be of great help to those with many children or single parents.

How can parent(s) prepare their children for Sunday worship?

One of the greatest ways to prepare a child for Sunday worship is to have consistent family worship within the home throughout the week. Family worship consists of a combination of prayer, reading of God’s word, and song. This prepares children for Sunday worship in that is requires them to sit still, listen, and participate in the same type of things the church does corporately. You are likely to discover that children will display the same type of behaviors during family worship as they will during Sunday worship. It is within the home that parent(s) can specifically address these behaviors, training and instructing the child how they shall behave and worship the Lord both within the home and corporately.

Each week, a household worship guide is provided. Within the guide, the upcoming sermon scriptural text and worship songs are provided. Reviewing the scriptural text with your child throughout the week can provide opportunities to become familiar with the text, specific vocabulary, and various queues keep them focused. Incorporating the upcoming worship songs into family worship throughout the week helps children memorize the songs and prepares them to participate in corporate worship on Sunday. This is especially beneficial for those younger children who cannot yet read.

How can parent(s) help their children understand and apply the teaching of God’s word?

One way to help your child understand and apply the teaching of God’s word is by reviewing the scriptural text throughout the week leading up to Sunday. For more see the question, “how can parent(s) prepare their children for Sunday worship?”

How does the pastor and established order of service intentionally engage children?

Catechism – Each Sunday, a family recites the previous week’s catechism doctrinal standard and memory verse. This helps to incorporate families and children in the order of corporate worship of God. This also helps to connect the faith being taught within the home with the faith practiced publicly.

Addressing Children Specifically – When applicable, the teaching pastor will often directly address the children in the congregation providing teaching or application specifically for them. Refer to Ephesians chapter 5 and 6 for a scriptural example of this type of approach to teaching.

Worship Through Song – The song set for each Sunday is posted each week in the Household Worship Guide. This allows parent(s) to help their children become familiar and or memorizing them throughout the week. As parent(s) use these songs throughout the week it helps to equip and prepare their children to worship the Lord in song on Sunday morning.

Are my children expected to be silent?

The short answer is no. It is unrealistic to expect that our younger children will be silent throughout the whole service. Both the teaching pastor and the congregation of Emmaus expect that there will be some noise throughout the service and can stay focused during those times. The truth of the matter is that most parents feel like the noise from their child is a bigger distraction than it really is. With that being said, we do believe that parents need to be addressing the “noisiness” of their child and if it continues for a period of time they should remove them from the service, address the issue, and then return with them.

"Him we proclaim,
warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom,
that we may present everyone mature in Christ."
(Colossians 1:28, ESV)

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