I got to attend vespers at my wife’s school yesterday, a service held at the end of every school day. There is something powerfully moving about hearing little kid voices singing serious hymns (which they learn by heart) and chanting the liturgy. And the children did so with such gusto and loudness!
My theory is that the cutesy-wootsey approach to children’s songs and worship appeals mainly to parents and grandparents (OK! I admit it! I am both of those things and a sucker for cutesy-wootsey!). But that children appreciate being able, through good teaching, to take part in what adults do. I also worry that in our attempts to make their experience with worship and Bible study completely “kid friendly” and in our trying usually in vain to attract adolescents with what I have elsewhere termed stupid youth group tricks, that we are reinforcing the deadly tendency of young adults rejecting their church background as “childish” once they leave home. Better, in my opinion–and less condescending–to introduce them to a spiritual life bigger than themselves that they can grow into.