I firmly believe that children best learn to worship by worshiping alongside caring, mentoring adults. Recently I heard Kara Root, pastor of Lake Nokomis Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis, describe the creative ministry her small congregation is doing with children and families. Here is a link to a post that includes excerpts from the church’s pew inserts about this ministry. “Why We Welcome Little Children to Worship.” Included are helpful suggestions to make worship a good experience for everyone. Thanks so much to Kara and the Lake Nokomis congregation!
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Christian educator Carolyn Brown put up this excellent post about using drawing to draw children into worship. It’s entitled “Worshiping with Pencils and Crayons.”
Here is an excerpt:
Before a scripture that you can easily visualize, ask the children to listen then draw what they hear. In some cases you can leave it general, e.g. draw a picture of the slaves walking to freedom through the sea. In other cases hone the task, e.g. ask the children to draw the faces of Mary and Martha during their spat about who did all the work.
At the beginning of the sermon pose a question asking the children to draw a picture of their answer to the question. Suggest they might listen to the sermon for ideas. “We are going to be thinking together about using money to help others. While you listen, draw pictures of ways you can use money to help another person.”
Early in the service give children a sheet of paper with the words of a prayer or one verse in a hymn that you will sing later in the service to decorate or illustrate and then use when singing or praying. Creation hymns are especially easy candidates for illustration.
Encourage children to draw their prayers. On a sheet of paper they can simply draw and write words of everything they want to talk with God about today talking to God as they do. Their drawings might be in the sections of a scribbled pattern or simply splashed all over the page.
To convince the children that their work is an important part of worship….
Invite them forward to show you their art and talk briefly about it.
Invite them to tape their art to a rail at the front of the chancel or tack it on a special bulletin board in the back. One preacher I know has a bulletin board on his office door especially for the children to leave him drawings and notes.
Invite children to drop their drawings into the offering plates as they are passed as a gift to God.
Take time to talk briefly with children about their drawings as they leave the sanctuary. Shake hands with the adults, talk art with the children.
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Sunday morning worship is the family reunion of the whole family of God. Christian educator Carolyn Brown has a marvelous web site called Worshiping with Children. It offers many helps for planning worship for a multigenerational congregation. She shows ways to include children so that they can participate alongside adults. She includes many resources related to the Sunday texts of the Revised Common Lectionary, and she posts them several weeks ahead. Recently she posted a list of helpful hints for parents as they and their children debrief after worship. It is called The Van Trip Home. Here is a sample from this post:
“Talk about good things that happened at church. One parent urges his children to look for one worship “take away”, i.e. something they want to remember (and yes, jokes from the sermon count). His children know he will ask about theirs in the car on the way home each week and so they try to have an answer ready to get Dad off their case if nothing else. Other parents kick off this discussion with questions like “what was one good thing that you did this morning at church?” or “which song did you like best?” or “what did you think about….?” “who did you see at church this morning?”
You can search the site by scripture text or by date in the lectionary. If you are preaching or teaching on lectionary texts, you can also find lectionary-related resources for children at Children’s Literature: A Resource for Ministry, which recommends books related to the scripture lessons and themes..
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