Covenant Worship: Introduction
Sooner or later, every church must wrestle with the best way to integrate her children into the corporate worship service of the church. As the children are the future of the church, this is a very important issue and one that has generated substantial disagreement. Although the dominant position throughout most of the church’s history has been to include children from infancy in the corporate worship of the church, the last hundred years has seen a dramatic rise in the use of nurseries and “children’s church” programs, resulting in more and more covenant children excluded from corporate worship. In America today, most protestant churches now offer nursery and children’s church during the corporate worship service. Even churches from historically reformed denominations, denominations which have traditionally stressed the importance of including children from the earliest ages in corporate worship, are giving into the contemporary pressure to abandon the practice.
In light of this, a fresh look at this very important issue is called for. Why have reformed churches traditionally stressed the importance of covenant worship, and are those reasons sufficient in light of the many objections that are currently being raised against it? Even if the practice is sound, should reformed churches be willing to abandon it for the sake of church growth and evangelistic impact? In this series of posts I argue that the traditional rationale for covenant worship is biblically sound and this important practice must not be abandoned by reformed churches today. Despite the initial plausibility of some of the contemporary arguments against covenant worship, they suffer from significant flaws and fail to deal with the clear biblical principals which have undergirded the reformed practice. I first review the traditional reformed arguments that have supported the practice of covenant worship. Second, I survey some of the contemporary challenges against the practice. Third, I offer specific responses in critique of these recent challenges building upon the traditional arguments.