Nearly three years ago I received an email from a single mom here at church, and the words she shared still resonate with me to this day. She mentioned that she attended one of our nights of worship at our Miracle Theatre campus. On this particular night, she brought her daughter, who was about four years old at the time. This mom revealed to me that up until that night she had never really responded physically in worship, and most of the time was disengaged, just thinking of the music as “nice", or “something that gets us to the message". However, on this particular night of worship, she was prompted by the Bible verse I shared before launching into Matt Redman’s song “Wide as the Sky”. It was from Psalm 63, which references our raised arms as “banners of praise”. She said that for the first time ever, she raised her arms in surrender to the Savior who surrendered everything for her. She lost herself in the song, and in a pure moment of worship. Then as the song neared its end, she looked down at her four-year- old daughter, who had been watching mommy. Her arms were raised high into the air, as she sang the song at the top of her lungs. I don’t cry often when I read emails, but that day, I’m pretty sure I ran out of tissues. You see, our kids are ALWAYS watching us. They watch us around the house, as we go about our day. They watch us as we communicate with one another. And they watch us in church, as we worship, or dare I say, as we don’t. As Proverbs 22:6 tells us “train up a child”, I think most of our training will happen in a nonverbal format. I’ve had a major prayer over each of my kids’ lives, from their first day out of the womb. That they would each be worshippers, and carry the heart of worship. But in the same way that a coach teaches players to throw the ball to first base for the out, I’m called to coach my kids on what it means to be a worshipper. If they don’t see the heart of worship lived out in our home, they’ll never have a reference point for worship when they are older. So, how do we model worship for our kids? As my dad said many times in his preaching days, ministry is more CAUGHT, than TAUGHT. Whether your children catch you singing praise choruses at home, or they catch you skipping out on the closing worship song at church, they are learning.
Worship is not just a set of three songs that we sing at church on a Sunday, but it’s our entire lives fully surrendered to God, according to Romans 12. Throughout the week, find moments to correlate worship into everyday activities. In our home on most days you’ll hear Hillsong, VeggieTales Worship, or even Story Songs from Scripture playing in the background, creating a soundtrack for our family to worship together. When we say bedtime prayers, or the blessing before a meal, or even as we read stories, Sarah and I look for moments to incorporate worship. I’m always amazed anytime I see my wife out in the congregation during a service. She’s usually holding Moses (my two year old), with the other arm raised in worship, and four year old Norah standing, or in most cases dancing, right next to her. Moses will usually lift his arms, as he sees his mommy doing it. Here’s the thing, Moses will grow up with the knowledge that when we raise our hands in worship, it’s a sign of adoration to our Heavenly Father. Moses won’t grow up thinking it’s weird when people do that, and he certainly won’t be foreign to the concept of worship.
What I loved most about the email I got three years ago was that this particular mom knew that her daughter would grow up experiencing a freedom in worship and correlating her raised arms as banners of praise. And one day, years from now, this four year old will teach her daughter the same thing.