Let the children come to me

13 And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.–Mark 10:13-16

Matthew, Mark and Luke record this event in pretty much the same way. Mark and Matthew sandwich this account between a discourse on divorce and the part about the Rich Young Man. Luke has it in the same vicinity as the Rich Young Ruler comes right after it. Matthew has it pretty much like Luke does but Luke ads that they were ‘bringing even infants’ to Jesus to have them blessed. I know that the infant baptism folks use these passages to beat everyone else about the head and shoulders regarding their practice.

In spite of this I think it has more to do with, well, just what it says. The babies and the children weren’t being baptized, they were getting a hug from Jesus and a blessing and he laid his hands on them. Personally if could have my child blessed by Jesus while he was here and I knew who he was I’d do it in a heartbeat. But it’s Jesus. You know, God. ‘Let the children come to me’ he said. Don’t keep them away. Verse 14 tells us that Jesus was ‘indignant’ because they were keeping them away, something that I’m sure I wouldn’t want to face.

Which brings us to the subject of children’s church. Yes I know what you’re thinking, how can the rest of us tolerate all that racket? All that boisterous energy on Sunday? The truth of the matter is that they wouldn’t be so rowdy if they didn’t get all sugared up in Sunday School, for one thing. Church is for spiritual growth, its for fellowship—Baptists have turned their churches into nutrition centers. (If you consider cookies, punch and donuts nutritional.) I say let the parents take care of nutrition and let the Sunday School class take care of…whatever Bible thing the Sunday School Class is supposed to take care of that day. For another thing, they might know how to be still and worship if parents were willing to take the time to sit with them and show them how to worship. If you don’t as, as a parent, who will? This is one of those things that ‘No One Can Do For You’. You have to train your children to go the right way. You can’t pawn it off on the youth director or anyone else—not without disastrous results.

But most of the time it’s just so much easier to let them go to children’s church and relax.

I just think families should worship together. I’m pretty sure this is biblical—someone help me out here.

Do I want to talk about Baptizing kids? No.

v.15 reminds us that we all must receive Christ in the same fashion that a child would receive something of great value. Humbled, awed, submissive—words that most everyone will have trouble with.


20 responses to “Let the children come to me

  1. Great post. Families worshipping together is important. I am also of the opinion that children should listen to the sermon and try to learn something although they won’t understand everything. I do not allow my kids to color and draw and play word puzzles during worship.

    Why not talk about baptizing kids? Should there be a minimum age?


  2. I think if you’ve got a child who is doing it out of a deep concern for being obedient to the Word of God its fine. IF. If they’re just doing it to make you happy or just doing it because everyone else is or just doing it because they ‘went down front’ and the preacher said “We’ll baptize YOU next Sunday…” then no. Anything outside of an expression of obedience isn’t baptism its making Mom and Dad happy or fulfilling a church ritual.

  3. They hear it, even if they color through the sermon. The point is to have them in there, and talk about the sermon afterwards. You’d be surprised how much they pick up.

  4. Yup. We started nightly bible reading and having our kids sit with us in the service at about the same time and it was amazing some of the questions they asked.

  5. You are right, Kevin. When I think they aren’t paying any attention, many times they still remember a lot from the sermons. I don’t mean that I don’t let them do anything during the service but I want them to participate in the service and learn to revere the words in Scripture and sing praises to the Lord. In other words, they don’t color Spiderman when they could be following along in the hymnal. My other arguement is this: if they can sit through a 2 hour movie without wiggling around, they can sit through a 45 minute sermon.

  6. I never have put it in exactly that frame before but you’re right.

    Usually what we do is take their bibles–they all have real bibles–and let them bring a note book. This allows them to feel like they’re taking notes even if they are just doodling. We’ve done this for quite awhile and what do you know…once my oldest got to the point where she could write out sentences she started writing down things the pastor said in his sermon. Its great.

  7. >>My other arguement is this: if they can sit through a 2 hour movie without wiggling around, they can sit through a 45 minute sermon.>>

    I agree with you. But, my kids still wiggle during a movie. They’d much rather play horses, dolls, or something involving me as a jungle gym.

    Emma, my oldest, takes her Pink TruGrip ESV with her to church and also takes notes. She also draws pictures of what the Pastor is preaching. We’re going through John right now, so there are stories she can visualize.

    The point is, even if she takes a break from note taking and colors in a Bible story coloring book, she still gets the sermon on some level.

    I don’t let her sit and color during worship. I think it is very important for her to participate out of a matter of awe and respect, even if she doesn’t appreciate the verbage of some of the hymns.

    However, we recently bought the Truth and Grace series put out by Founders Press. It has various hymns in each lesson to teach children the great hymns of the faith as well as Bible verses and Q&A (catechism). I highly recommend that as a resource. For $5 a book, you can’t go wrong.

  8. Thanks for the post! I attend a mixed race church and have been educated that in traditional AA churches, kids always worship with their parents. In our church, the kids are in with us for the first hour (worship) and then all under 6th grade go to class during the sermon. I have five kids and they do just fine. We have assigned seats and set rules for behavior. It is amazing what kids are capable of doing. Most of the time, we never give them the chance.

  9. Great suggestions Kevin. Thank you.

    2 of my kids are in kindergarden so they have scaled-back Bibles that only have ‘stories,’ if you know what I mean. My pastor is preaching through Malachi right now and there are no pictures or stories from Malachi in the kids Bibles. Still, the kids do a good job in paying attention.

    At a previous church, my kindergarten kids would go to childrens church. They would go watch a video and learn something (not sure what). The videos ranged from Veggietales and Hermie to The Lion King (gasp!).

    I’m glad we are all in ‘adult’ worship together now.

  10. I differ somewhat in my interpretation of this in feeling that while Jesus may have used children for making his point He was presenting it in respect of those who are children of His i.e. saved, sanctified and redeemed believers. At the end of the day it’s the ONLY time to my knowledge that children are mentioned in respect of teaching in that context, but Paul talks a lot about how believers are like children in their ability to learn and be taught the faith in a sense. Plus I think Jesus would have a lot to say about the multitude of false teachers who lead such redeemed ‘children’ astray before they perhaps have had a chance to learn the Word more solidly and thus be more discerning. Just a thought for an alternative perspective perhaps? TKR

  11. I’m glad we are all in ‘adult’ worship together now.

    Wow do we want to crack open that ‘worship’ can o’ worms? What do you all think of contemporary worship?

  12. TKR,

    >>Jesus may have used children for making his point He was presenting it in respect of those who are children of His i.e. saved, sanctified and redeemed believers>>

    I think it is a completely valid take on the passage. I think Josh posted something like that earlier, right?

    As far as worship, “contemporary” to whom? Watts? Newton? Crosby? Tomlin? Crowder?

    Style doesn’t concern me as much as content. There, the lid is off…;)

  13. Actually I have posted something like that before, yes. And, as I was writing about parenting again I found myself making some of the same points. There’s one I haven’t made yet but I think it might need a post of its own.

    With regard to worship, I think what I’m talking about boils down to content as well. I mean, I don’t think its about the drum kit or the electric bass…is it?

  14. I have no problem with contemporary services either, as long as the content is the same. It seems like many of the contemporary services are seeker services but you can’t really make that kind of generalization.

    Regarding worship, is it intended for believers or is it supposed to be an evangelistic event?

  15. Can anything done by a lost person actually please God? Worship, to me, is the sole property of the church. The question that I keep coming back to over and over again is this: Are we really ‘doing’ evangelism the right way?

  16. I completely agree. That is why I question why so many pastors say to invite someone to church this week. I think they should say, ‘share Christ with someone this week” or something like that instead.

  17. EE,

    I think they should say, “share Christ with someone this week” or something like that instead.

    Agreed. I remember hearing a sermon by John MacArthur regarding the role of the pastor to the lost. He said something along the lines of the job of the pastor is to feed the flock. When the lost come to church they should be evesdropping on a feeding, not be the focus of the service.

    I think the same should apply to worship. The lost should be evesdropping on a feast of joy when viewing our worship. That places a huge responsibility on the worship pastor and each individual Christian to come thirsty and ready to render to God the praise He is due with our feeble attempts, rather than sulk that our favorite hymn or chorus wasn’t sung. Or even worse, that it wasn’t performed the way we are used to. Performance mentality irks me.

    I play piano at our church. We have a group that plays contemporary music. To do it right takes a lot of practice and you can tell when we haven’t had the proper amount of practice. It is such a distraction! There is a part of me that says drop the band for simplicity’s sake so that there won’t be those inevitable hiccups.

    However, when God is gracious to us and uses our pitiful skills to His glory, it is such a blessing to me as I am playing and the congregation as they enter into worship. I really hunger for those times. It takes working it through with fear and trembling for it is God working for His own worship, if I may respectfully apply the principle of that verse to corporate worship.

  18. evesdropping [snip]Performance

    I think you’ve nailed it here bro. The concert thing gets all over me these days.

  19. kevin,


    I agree with you 100%. However, how do you reconcile Romans 10:14 to this?

    “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?”

    Obviously preaching plays a critical role in evangelism according to this verse. How do you reconcile this verse and the fact that worship is only for believers?

  20. I can’t speak for Kevin–check his blog, he speaks for himself just fine!–but to me it depends.

    I haven’t had time to look at the passage in context, but I was thinking about that as I was writing this and my most recent post. I will say this much, though, that it seems that worship and preaching are two different things. God’s people must worship him and preach the gospel…all of them. Some are, arguably, better than others, but the more I study the Bible the more it becomes clear that there are no real specifics when it comes to ‘the call’ with regard to preaching. That Go in the Great Commission applies to every Christianso we are all responsible for preaching the gospel.

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