Posted by: chuckbumgardner | March 29, 2008

James Montgomery Boice and Children in Worship

In reading the James Montgomery Boice Festschrift, Give Praise to God, I noticed this intriguing note on his practice of involving children in worship.
James Boice’s commitment to a traditional order and style of worship is widely known.  What is perhaps less widely known is his commitment to the participation of children in worship.  He did not believe in lowering the content or quality of worship for their sake — “dumbing down,” as he called it.  On the contrary, he believed in helping children grow into spiritual maturity by teaching them how to give praise to God.  “The goal we should have with our children,” he wrote, “is to bring them up to the level of the adults — that is, to enable them to begin to function on an adult level in their relationships to God. . . . Even if they cannot follow what goes on at first, our task is to teach them so they both can and will.”
Especially in the last years of Dr. Boice’s ministry, a concerted effort was made to help the children of Tenth Presbyterian Church glorify and enjoy God in their worship. A special children’s bulletin clarifies difficult words in the creed or hymns and provides questions to help the children understand the sermon.  First and second graders are dismissed before the sermon to receive additional instruction in worship.  The children sing hymns, study the Apostles’ Creed, and learn the sermon passage.  But Dr. Boice himself introduced the most significant change.  During the opening exercises of the children’s Bible school, he began to give a five-minute summary of the main points of his sermon. This enables the children to listen with understanding during worship; it also strengthens their relationship with their pastor.   
(Philip Graham Ryken, “Introduction,” in Give Praise to God: A Vision for Reforming Worship, ed. Philip Graham Ryken, Derek W. H. Thomas, and J. Ligon Duncan III (Phillipsburg, N.J.: P. & R. Publishing, 2003), 10.)
Now, quibbles may be had about the precise particulars of Boice’s methodology. But the burden he had to teach children about the proper worship of God is notable and commendable.

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