Little Disciples #4 – Children and Worship

Question: What is the chief end of man?

Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

Hear me out before clicking away.

The “Westminster Catechism” was written by the Church of England and Scotland a few hundred years ago to say what they believed. With great imaginative flair, they then shortened it to the “Westminster Shorter Catechism” (WSC). Thanks, guys. Interestingly, though, one of the reasons that it was shortened was so that it could be taught to children.

The WSC is written like a Q and A. And the “Answer” I pasted above makes a really bold claim. The chief end, the main thing, the whole shebang for men, women and children is to worship God.

Let’s pause.

When we say “worship” we often mean “singing”. Worship is certainly not less than singing, but it is more than singing. Romans 12:1-2 says this:

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Our whole lives are worship to God. Obeying him with our money, friends, calendar and relaxation brings him glory.

But having got that straight, we are focusing on sung worship in this post. Why? Because the Bible tells us to sing as part of coming together (Ephesians 5:18-21).

And when it comes to kids, this is really convenient. Kids love singing. I’ve had a little boy in Reception sit me down on a Sunday morning and refuse to let me go until I’d heard his word-for-word perfect rendition of a song (which I think was about Thomas the tank engine…)

Music helped him remember.

But this is a bit of a double-edged sword. Because when I had IT lessons at school, we learned “GIGO”; Garbage In, Garbage Out. If you type something useless into Google, you’ll get something useless out in response.

It’s exactly the same with our worship songs.

If we sing garbage songs, our kids will remember garbage lyrics. One such example that I stumbled across repeats: “I got peace like a river/I got peace like a river/I got peace like a river in my soul”. Three or four similar verses and not one passing reference to Jesus later and the song ends.

Worship doesn’t have to be like this.

The antidote is Colossians 3:16:

 “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”

If we sing “the message of Christ”, words dripping with the Good News about Jesus, our kids will remember, savour and delight in truth from the Bible.

I’ve made a start for you on a song list for kids in the “Resources for Parents” folder. This collection has action songs and memory verse songs, but also has “normal” songs. Don’t worry too much that your child might not understand every word; what a glorious opportunity to explain them to your kids! “This song has the word “sin” in it. “Sins” are the bad things we think, say and do. Isn’t Jesus AMAZING that he took all our sins away?”

So why not commit once a week to singing a worship song as a family? Maybe you want to do this just after dinner before washing up? Or on a Sunday afternoon? Or just before bed? Keep an old pair of cinema specs that you can encourage your kids to put on as their “noticing glasses” (I learned this from our families worker; thanks Jules). When the specs go on, your kids are noticing particularly special words in the songs that they like the most.

Remember that you will feel a lot more awkward about singing than they will. Kids are kids and they love fun. Let them jump around and dance and belt out the words. Your ways teach. If you kill their fun and suck all the joy out of singing praise to our God, what kind of example is that setting? It’ll be messy, loud and you’ll probably find it pretty uncomfortable.

That’s okay.

Question: What is the chief end of man?

Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

Let’s crank up the volume on our Spotify worship playlist and model to our kids how to enjoy the God who gave us singing.

Further resources

It’s well worth looking at the Westminster Shorter Catechism:

Westminster Shorter Catechism 106

For a range of book suggestions, visit: