Is your church like the early church where children were present in the meetings? Have you experienced what parents experienced back then? Do your children have the blessing of worshiping with the richness of the whole body or are they segregated among their own subculture?
Here is the view from Scripture. We see age-integrated worship and discipleship in many places. The Ephesian church is one example. Ephesians 6:1-4 is the flagship New Testament passage on child rearing and fatherhood. It is an extremely simple and steadying message in light of the dizzying array of advice the world gives to parents. We find four major ideas arising from the text. First, there is the setting: the meeting of the church. Second, there are two simple commands for children: obey and honor (Eph. 6:1-2). Third, there are two understandable results for children: good life and long life (Eph. 6:3). Fourth, there are two dangerous pitfalls for fathers: provoking and neglecting (Eph. 6:4).
This article is focused on the first point - the setting of the meeting of the church.
In the first two verses, Paul is clearly speaking to children. These are the children who are in the meeting of the Ephesian church and are hearing the letter read. Paul uses a Greek grammatical form called the "vocative of direct address." He is directly addressing the children in the meeting of the church. This makes it an obvious fact that children were present in the meetings of the early churches.
In his commentary on Ephesians, William Hendriksen explains it this way:
The apostle assumes that among those who will be listening when this letter is read to the various congregations the children will not be lacking. They are included in God's Covenant..., and Jesus loves them....Were Paul to be present with us today he would be shocked at the spectacle of children attending the Sunday School and then going home just before the regular worship service. He has a word addressed directly and specifically to the children. (William Hendriksen, "Exposition of Ephesians" in Galatians and Ephesians: New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1979), 258.) Read more