A Scriptural Guide For Including Children In Worship

The age at which small children should join their parents in worship can be a contentious issue. Is it merely a matter of preference, or can it be resolved scripturally? We may find a hint in Nehemiah 8:2 “Then Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men, women, and all who could listen with understanding …”.

The Bible tells us that when all the people gathered to hear the Law read, the assembly included both men and women, and “all who could listen with understanding.” Perhaps this can help serve as a guide to help us decide when children are suited for adult worship services? If we follow this precedent, then we should include “all who can listen with understanding.” Can a child understand what is being taught, and benefit from the service? Then we should not exclude them from hearing and profiting from the word of God. But if they cannot “listen with understanding” and serve as a distraction to others instead, perhaps it would be better if they were in a nursery or “kids church” which might be more edifying to them.

When can a child “listen with understanding”? One would think there is no “set age”; that like the “age of accountability” for their salvation it will vary by the individual. But it would appear that Nehemiah gives us a good scriptural guide for when we should include children in worship. Do it if they can “listen with understanding.”

About Shawn Thomas

My blog, shawnethomas.com, features the text of my sermons, book reviews, family life experiences -- as well as a brief overview of the Lifeway "Explore the Bible" lesson for Southern Baptist Sunday School teachers.
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