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9Marks Explained : A Letter From Mark Dever

Preparing Your Children for the Worship Service

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The following is a guest post from Brian Croft.  Brian serves as the senior pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky.  In addition to contributing to the 9Marks blog, Brian also writes regularly on his own blog at www.practicalshepherding.com.  Brian is married to Cara, and they have four children.

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How can a pastor prepare his children for the worship service on Sunday?

At our church, we encourage our parents to spend the week preparing their children for the public gathering on Sunday.  We do so by giving them the passage that will be preached the next Sunday, and sometimes a mid-week email with more details about the sermon and the content of the service to provide more guidance. 

Through this being our aim for every family in our church, I have realized there exists a special opportunity for the pastor to prepare his family for Sunday services.  The pastor has a more detailed knowledge about the content of the upcoming services and most importantly…the sermon, than anyone else in the church.  He is the one preaching.  He is typically the one planning services.   I try to use this unique opportunity to prepare my family for worship in these few specific ways:

 1)  Family Worship always includes in some way the reading of the passage that I will preach so we can begin discussions about it with my children that carry throughout the week.  Because I have the unique knowledge of the direction of my sermon, I am able to lead the discussion in such a way that prepares them to hear the Word preached on Sunday.

2)  As I individually read and pray with each of my children throughout the week (See this previous post), I also get to dialogue with them as individuals about the passage I am preaching and can ask probing questions that fit their specific maturity as they look forward to sitting under the preached Word on Sunday.

3)  Because I eventually know what songs will be sung, I find it helpful, especially with young children who cannot yet read well, to sing a song or two in family worship throughout the week that will be sung on that upcoming Lord’s Day.  My children seem to sing more confidently and have a greater sense of participation when Sunday comes.

Pastors, we have the gift of this knowledge because of the role we play.  Whether you heed my suggestions or not, please take full advantage in some way of the unique position you have to better prepare your family to gather with the church on Sunday.  Your family will feel more cared for and you will be setting an excellent example to the husbands and fathers in your congregation who seek to follow your example…as they should and will.

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The key is taking advantage of family worship time, and using this to help train and develop children for their time worshipping with parents in church. Another key is breaking free of the segregation mindset and removing children from Sunday Schools to worship with parents (9Marks needs to interview a FIC pastor like Voddie Baucham sometime)

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