Many congregations give opportunities to young boys (who have not yet obeyed the gospel in baptism) to read or recite scriptures and to lead prayers and songs in front of the assembled church. Is this biblical? Does this set a dangerous precedent for non-christian adults or others who are not scripturally qualified to exercise leadership in the church?
Male leadership and leadership training are certainly biblical concepts (Mark 3:14; Luke 11:1-4; 1 Timothy 2:8-15; 2 Timothy 2:2; etc.). Thus preparing boys to be future leaders does not fit into the same category as opening doors to non-christian adults or female leaders. While we respect divinely ordained gender roles, we must also appreciate that culpability and innocence before God distinguishes boys from non-christian men. Prior to reaching the age of accountability,1 a child is not guilty of sin or separated from God and is thus spiritually safe.2
It is my judgment that the practice of pre-christian boys leading in worship activities does not set a “dangerous precedent” but rather a biblical precedent of training future church leaders (cf. 1 Samuel 2:11, 18; Proverbs 22:6; Ecclesiastes 12:1; 1 Timothy 4:12 and 2 Timothy 3:14-15).
--Kevin L. Moore
1 Seeing that individuals develop and mature at varying rates, a specific age is not biblically prescribed. Nevertheless, a state of innocence prior to reaching a point at which one is accountable before God is clearly assumed in scripture: Deuteronomy 1:39; Numbers 8:2-3; 10:28; 14:29-31; Isaiah 7:15-16; John 9:21, 23; cf. Ezekiel 18:20; 28:15; Ecclesiastes 7:29; 1 John 3:4; 1 Corinthians 13:11; Luke 2:40-52.
2 On the spiritual security of young children, see Deuteronomy 1:39; Matthew 18:1-5; 19:13-14; Mark 9:33-37; 10:13-16; Luke 18:15-17; 1 Corinthians 14:20.