Worship as Dialogue
In churches all over the world, we gather in worship to communicate with God together. We listen together to God’s words to us. We speak together our response to God. The amazing thing about this conversation is that it is not something we do by ourselves. It is something we do with other believers. We also worship with our children.
Worship is a series of actions. Together with our children, we sing, we pray, we praise, we confess, we cry out to God. But none of our actions would mean much if God did not act as well. We worship not a dumb idol but a living God. This God acts in the world – and in worship. God’s grace comes first; then we respond.
Here’s a bad metaphor about worship and then a good metaphor about worship. When we worship, God is not the audience and we are not the actors. It’s not the other way either. The theater metaphor doesn’t work at all. Worship is a dialogic encounter, a loving conversation between God and the people of God.
In worship, much of this exchange of actions happens through words. These words also must include our children.
As we speak these worship words, we are doing what they say. We praise and confess and cry out in words. God speaks to us in words too- primarily in the words of Scripture and in the words of sermon, but also in words of forgiveness, blessing, welcome, and healing. Where in your worship do your children have an opportunity to praise, to confess and to cry out? When do your children hear God speaking to them?
We also speak to each other, encouraging each other, confessing to each other, and sharing joys and burdens. In your church service, what activities include your child so that they can interact intergenerationally? It’s appropriate to think of worship as the kind of ongoing dialogue that characterizes any loving relationship.