I’ve recently been considering the notion of children singing in the church, particularly as they sing a prepared piece to the congregation. I take it as axiomatic that what believers sing ought to be true, not false, and as a corollary, it seems a questionable practice to me to indiscriminately gather the children of the church to sing to the congregation a song which expresses personal faith in Christ or the like. In this regard, I’m thinking particularly of children who have made no credible profession of faith, although they may very well be part of a Christian family.
As an example of the sort of song I have in mind, consider a hymn written for children by the late James Montgomery Boice, which says in one verse,
If Mary knew [that Jesus would die], she’d shed a tear;
I’m sure she loved him. So do I.
I want to serve him while I’m here
and go to heaven when I die.
(From “In Bethlehem Long Years Ago: A Child’s Christmas Carol,” copyright 1999 by Paul S. Jones)
Now, what would be the correct path to take as a church? Ought we to limit any public performance of music by children to purely objective lyrics which communicate truth about God? Or ought we to use songs like the above, and counsel parents to allow or disallow their child’s participation based on their credible profession of faith or absence thereof? Or ought we to allow all children to participate in songs such as the above regardless of whether they’ve made a credible profession of faith? Or ought we not allow children to sing at all to the church?