Teaching Kids to Praise

Originally posted on Sojourn’s Travel Blog (February 2010)

Teaching Kids To PraiseIf you are a parent, then God has commanded you to teach your children about Him.  And He has commanded you to teach your children to worship Him—and worship Him expressively.

In Psalm 78:4, the songwriter, Asaph, declares: “We will… tell the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.” Asaph is an example of both a father who led his children in worship and a leader who led the community in worship.  Asaph wrote worship songs that gave praise to the Lord and reminded the people about all that he did.  Even if you are not musical like Asaph, you can lead your children to worship God.

  1. Enjoy God yourself! Expressive joy in the gospel message makes it believable to our children.   Parents who truly display the joy of the Lord in their whole being encourage children to believe.   You are the curriculum that your child will learn most fully.  So, be expressive yourself.  It is a good thing to praise the Lord (Psalm 92:1).  Check out these great worshipresources—including the chord sheet for Jeremy Quillo’s arrangement of “When I Think About Jesus.”  Download the PDF here. Then, fill your home with praise!  Sing out!  Clap!  Dance!
  2. Encourage your kids to be responsive and expressive! You shouldn’t demand outward expression from your kids, but you can encourage it. The scripture calls everyone to clap their hands to the Lord. We should feel comfortable doing the same thing.  The call to worship God appropriately is universal (Psalm 47:1).  Call your kids to respond to God with their hearts, but don’t set your expectations too high for their responsiveness or heart engagement in singing, because many of the children are not yet believers.  Remember, your leadership and example is the most important thing.
  3. Explain what you are doing. Take time to explain what you are doing.  Parents have the privilege and responsibility to show our kids the greatness, power, and glory of Jesus.  Take time to talk about the words we sing.  Take time to explain why we do what we do (Exodus 13:8).  Take time to ask questions about what a song means and how its words apply to your child’s life.   Ask questions to find out how much our kids really understand about what we’re doing.   By the way, these conversations always seem to be more fruitful when they are casual—outside a time of family worship rather than during it.


(1) Explain to your children why we sometimes raise our hands when we sing or pray.  Read 1 Timothy 2:8.  Explain how we want our kids to get comfortable lifting their hands in worship, but we don’t want them to misunderstand what it signifies.  Lifting our hands shows that God is holy (different from us), and He has made us holy (different from the world).  We don’t lift our hands to show that we make ourselves holy or great.  We don’t lift our hands in order to become holy.

(2) Read Psalm 98 together as a family.  Then answer these questions:  Who and what is worshiping God in this song?  How are they worshiping God?  What parts of their bodies do they use?  What instruments do they use?  Why do they worship God in this way?

More Resources:

Bob Kauflin, “Q&A Training Children to Worship God,”Worship Matters (3/31/06).

Bob Kauflin, “One more thought on Training Children to Worship God,” Worship Matters (3/31/06).

Mike Bradshaw and Ken Boer, “Training Children to Worship God,” WorshipGod09 Conference: From Generation To Generation © 2009 Sovereign Grace Ministries.

Marty Machowski and Mike Bradshaw, “Training Children to Worship God,” WorshipGod06 Conference (c) 2006 Sovereign Grace Ministries.

Chandi Plummer and Jared Kennedy, “Music for Little Ones,”SojournKids (10/2/08).


Parenting and Christian Freedom Revisited

Focusing on disputable matters can distract us from the weightier matters in gospel ministry.

Last year, this blog posted an article entitled “Immunizations and Christian Freedom” as part of a Parenting and Christian Freedom series. Over the past year, I’ve come to see how our focus on the controversial issue distracted the conversation from weightier matters. That article has been removed from the site, and this one appears in its place. What follows here unpacks Paul’s teaching on Christian Freedom from Romans 14.  The “vaccinations” controversy is mentioned, but it is only mentioned incidentally.  With this issue like with all matters of parenting freedom, the call to love is the main thing.

The apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Romans as a missionary support letter.  In the letter, he unpacks the Gospel (Rom 1-11) as an encouragement for this church to pursue self-sacrifice (Romans 12), perseverance (Rom 13), unity (Rom 14), and partnership with him in his mission to Spain (Rom 15).  Paul’s emphasis on unity in controversial matters (14:1-15:13) is particularly instructive when we see it in light of the context of the whole book.  A lack of unity within the church over “eating meat” and “celebrating days” had become a roadblock to mission.  We should not allow our own disputable matters to do the same.  When we engage in conversations about disputable trends in parenting as a church, it is important for us not to let our strong opinions distract us from love and gospel ministry.

Vaccinations are controversial.  And because they are controversial, there are members of our church that have strong opinions about them—for and against.  I won’t rehearse the reasons here.  Some will vaccinate their children and some will not. Now, the analogy with the Roman church breaks down a bit here. Jesus declared all food to be clean (Mark 7:19).  He hasn’t done that for vaccinations.  But Paul’s principles for loving one another still apply. Paul focused less on the disputable matters in these chapters (15:1-3).  Rather, he focused on the way that the Romans Christians should love one another.   This is where I allowed our earlier conversations to go astray, and it is why this revision of the earlier post is necessary.  Controversial matters should not be avoided altogether, but advocating a position as a church where the Bible is silent and believers differ is unwise. I’m certain that having done so diluted our gospel influence.

Don’t weaken your gospel influence.  If you’ve done your homework about this issue and you have come to a decision as a family, you know how tempting it is to pass judgment, “I am doing this in a right way” and because you aren’t doing the same thing I am doing, you are wrong.” But Paul says clearly, “Accept… and do not judge” (Romans 14:1-13).

Here is what “not judging” means in this passage. God accepts parents who vaccinate and those who don’t as Christians.  And he calls both his friends (John 15:15).  Why are we afraid to do the same?  Choosing to vaccinate or to not vaccinate doesn’t make a parent a more or less mature Christian.  A better test of our maturity is whether or not we choose to “bear with one another” in love.  The one who is mature in love will not be found accusing his sisters and brothers of fear and arrogance about a matter that—in light of eternity—carries very little weight. Who are we to stand in judgment over another of God’s servants?  They answer to him—not to us (Romans 14:4).

Of course I have strong opinions, but (to paraphrase Amy Fenton Lee) my opinion on this matter is irrelevant to my calling as a Christian. I care more about families coming to Christ than I do about whether or not they vaccinate.


Christian Freedom & Parenting Series:

Last Two Sundays: Learner and Missionary

Over the past two weeks in SojournKids, we studied the church’s Missionary and Learner identities.

For the Learner identity, we studied the story of Jesus calling the twelve disciples from Luke 5:1-11, and we learned that:

  • Jesus called three fishermen to be His first disciples
  • Disciples are people who follow Jesus and learn from Him.
  • Jesus promised to teach His disciples to “fish for people.”

Download the SojournKids “at home” sheet for Learner here.

For the Missionary identity, we studied the Great Commission from Matthew 28:16-20, and we learned that:

  • Jesus sent out his disciples as missionaries.
  • God’s missionaries go all over the world to tell others about Him.
  • Jesus promises to go with us on mission.

Download the SojournKids “at home” sheet for Missionaries here.


Go! Kids Music at Sojourn East this Sunday

When Should We Baptize Kids?

Among those who practice believer’s baptism (credo-baptism), there are  two basic positions regarding the questions of childhood participation in the church ordinances, baptism and communion, and childhood church membership.  The two views are:

  1. Withholding baptism and communion from children until they reach a level of maturity that is independent of their parents in matters relating to God and the church.
  2. Immediate participation in baptism and communion for believing children, who are recognized as church members with limited responsibilities.

Over the past few weeks, both Trevin Wax (Kingdom People) and John Starke (The Gospel Coalition) have weighed in on this discussion.  Both suggested four principles. Continue Reading…