Children In Worship
Worship Matters at EBPC
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.”(Matthew 19:14)
At East Brentwood Presbyterian Church, we take to heart Jesus' message and encourage parents to regularly worship with their children on Sunday mornings and at other special religious celebrations. Our congregation has long been known for warmly welcoming visitors of all ages, including the our youngest guests. In fact, this authentic hospitality is one of EBPC's most endearing strengths.
It is the hope of our Connecting Ministry that we can continue to find meaningful ways for all generations to discover, explore and express their faith and praise in our Worship services. With that goal in mind, the Children's Faith Formation and Worship Ministry teams have been actively studying and implementing a plan that will allow us to incorporate everyone's needs-children, youth and adults- into our weekly plans at EBPC.
While we are excited to share with you some of the highlights of what you will see over the next few weeks, first let us review some of the basic ideas behind our decision-making process.
Additionally, we hope you will join us for two upcoming worship services on August 27th and September 3rd where our worship experience will give extra attention to our intergenerational strength as it will involve children, youth, and adults in leadership that day along with ….experiences.
WHAT IS WORSHIP?
Worship is how we respond to God. When we gather in worship we all come together to encounter Christ, and we watch together for God’s presence in Scripture, our own lives, and the world around us. When we worship God, we are reminded that we belong to God’s love, and we are empowered by the Spirit to participate with God in loving and healing the world.
WHY DO WE WELCOME LITTLE CHILDREN TO WORSHIP?
At the time of baptism, parents and the whole congregation promise to bring children to worship. Not to do so would be like sitting down to the family evening meal but excluding the kids. Sure their manners might be far from elegant, but we welcome them because they are part of the family. Being with family is how we learn to be family. Worship is no different. Young people giggle, they poke, they ask questions and they swing their legs because they are young children. Children learn about worship and how to participate by experience, by how they are welcomed into the community, by what they see big people doing.
HOW DO YOUNG CHILDREN LEARN TO WORSHIP?
- By being taught they have a place in the community of the church.
- By seeing, hearing, feeling, even smelling, the sanctuary as a place of welcome and worship.
- By being around other children in the worship space.
- By watching how their significant adults sing, and make prayers and offerings.
- By sharing prayers, communion, and worship leadership alongside adults.
- By being given ways to watch for God’s presence in their own lives, and encouraged to share where they notice God and how they participate in God’s love.
HOW DO ADULTS LEARN TO WORSHIP?
Adults learn to worship by “becoming like a child” (Mt. 18:3). Children notice, absorb and feel deeply. They respond freely. Children perceive God. Children learn to worship from adults and adults learn to worship from children. Bringing a child to church can be frustrating. Their behavior can make it hard for parents and others to worship. Then again, many facets of parenting can be challenging. It’s the rewards that make it all worthwhile. While we do not want our children to be disruptive or hamper the worship of others, all of us together need to be reminded that children are not the church of the future. They are the church of the present and are to be treasured as such. Children and adults alike are able to watch for God, and participate in God’s love and healing.
SUGGESTIONS FOR ADULTS WITH CHILDREN
- When possible, arrive in time to find a good place to sit. Let them sit next to the aisle, or near the “prayground”. Even let them stand on the pew next to you so that they can see.
- Tell them before they come in what will happen in worship. Our weekly e-blast distributed on Thursday or Friday has a section called “What to Expect” and there is a “Children’s Corner” describing the exciting things that will take place. Also our bulletin is online so you can show them the parts of the service where they have an active role, and the parts where we all listen or watch others quietly. If you don’t receive our e-communications and would like to, CLICK HERE.
- Take advantage of the worship supplies and materials available in the prayground part of our sanctuary. Return bags and supplies to their place when you leave.
- Worship with your child, guiding her or him through the service so they can feel what it is like to worship together.
- Worship at home through saying Table Grace together, or Bedtime Prayers, or even, “God bless you.” Ask your kids questions about how they noticed God’s love in their day, and how they shared in it.
- Remember that sometimes children need to move around and “stay busy”. That’s why we have introduced a “prayground” to engage our children with books and art supplies during the service and a time where children can gather in their own worship space for a time of teaching, creating, singing, and worship. It is also why we have a fully staffed and safe nursery for our young children at any time during worship. Gather them back with you for Communion so they can experience God’s blessing.
SUGGESTIONS FOR ADULTS WITHOUT CHILDREN
- Seat yourself towards the middle of the aisles and closer than the back row allowing for families who, despite their best attempt, arrive just before or just after the service has begun.
- In fact, make a child’s presence a part of your worship by inviting their family to sit next to you, praying for them, taking an interest in them.
- Make a special point of sharing the Peace of Christ with them when everyone else is greeting.
- Find a young child before or after the service, make eye contact, introduce yourself, tell them you are glad to see them and will be looking for them next week. You might just be the reason that family returns.
Some tips are found in the resource: worshipingwithchildren.blogspot.com.