Disclaimer: four of my six children don't like worship all that much. I'm holding fast God's to promise on this one: "train up a child in the way he should go, and in his old age he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).
My girls are seventeen and almost nineteen, which qualifies them as "old" in the spectrum of childhood. They both love to worship. They choose to be there even when—for whatever very rare reason—my husband and I are away. The younger one is more reserved and doesn't seek out the limelight, but when she was asked to lead vocally with the praise band she enthusiastically got on board. That surprised me. But to see her praising the Lord with genuine love and confidence melts this mama's heart every time.
The older one, who loves the limelight, is content running tech and will stand behind the laptop all by herself lost in her own little world of worship. Again, heart melting.
But what about the boys? Am I sure they'll come around?
All of us were created to worship. It's why we were put on earth. "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever" (Westminster Catechism). The sooner we figure this out, the more meaningful our lives become. More to the point: until we figure this out, our lives feel meaningless.
Everyone worships. The question is what are you worshipping?
Since my boys were created to worship, my job is to train them how to do it.
1. Make Sunday worship non-negotiable. For almost two decades I've had to single-handedly get many children out of bed, fed, polished, and out the door on Sunday mornings. My husband leaves before I even wake up. There's nothing worse than spending time preparing to praise the Lord than having children wear you down with "I don't want to go." I give consequences to boys who try that one on me. I also repeat "the speech" when necessary: "our family worships on Sunday. As long as you're a part of this family, you will worship on Sunday. If you continue to complain about it..." Let's be honest, since this is coming from the mouths of males, the consequence usually involves a screen. (And just to give my oldest son a little credit, this Fall he has chosen to attend both a weekly bible study with his buddies before school and FCA, also before school. This is a child who doesn't want to wake up for anything. So yes, I'm trusting in the "old age" part of Proverbs 22:6 because it's proved true in our family.
2. Use some common sense. Having just said there's no negotiating this one, we make allowances for rare sports events or vacations. Some would disagree, but if you're too strict on any of this stuff, a bitter root of resentment can take hold in your child's heart. We don't sign up for sports that will routinely play or practice on Sunday. But more than likely one or two of my daughter's gymnastics meets will have her competing Sunday morning. It's the exception, not the rule, and I'm fine with that.
3. Make sure you enjoy worship. If your kids think you're going to church just because it's the right thing to do, they may never develop a love of worship the way God intended. Seeing you wanting to be there, genuinely enjoying the experience—even being transformed by it—goes a very long way in inspiring them to do the same.
And if you actually don't enjoy worship—it's just something you do out of guilt or social pressure—pray about that. Ask God to change your heart. Ask Him to truly touch you during worship. Of course that's His biggest desire! And if we ask for things that are in His will, we can be assured He not only hears us, but will act powerfully in our favor (1 John 5:14-15).
4. Don't complain about the preacher, the music, or any church politics in front of your children. We made this mistake in our last church. There were definitely some "politics," and we weren't careful enough about not discussing it in front of our children. It didn't take long for them to pick up on this negativity. Nothing sounds worse than hearing your own complaining attitude coming out of your child's mouth. We learned this lesson the hard way.
5. Get them involved. Kids love to feel like they're making a difference; like they have something to offer. Put them in the sound booth, have them usher, let them read the lessons... Not only will it help them with the "boredom" factor, it teaches them that worship isn't just a show put on by the musicians and preachers, it's the work of the entire body of Christ. (Worship literally means "work"). It's the most important work we'll do on this earth because it reminds us who we are, who God is, and how we can serve Him in the places we influence every day.
For more on the whole topic of worship and why we do it, check this out.
For more on discipling children check out my book, Faith@Home:God's Gifts for Growing a Great Family.