Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Children and Worship (Part 1)

Children and Worship (Part1)

     In the last 10 years that I have been involved in children's ministry, ideas that parents and ministers hold about children and worship and preferences for how children worship always cover the entire spectrum of possibilities. This topic is one that is very important to me- so much so that Iwrote my final seminary Capstone paper on this subject. It's hard to summarize a 30 page research paper but in essence, I came to the conclusion that a combination of learning both at home with parents and at church with ministers and Sunday School teachers provides the best worship enrichment possibilities for children.

     At Parkway, we think it's important for families to worship together. Sunday worship services are a community activity during which all of God's people gather to worship as one. This includes singing, praying, hearing, and giving to God. We believe that children belong in the worship service when they are at an appropriate developmental stage to participate, beginning at age 5 when they are learning to read. However, children do need help in understanding the service so they can worship God meaningfully. It's my desire to be your best resource as you help your children learn to worship.

     In Kindergarten and 1stGrade, children attend children's worship where they have their own worship service and learn about the specific elements of worship at the end of the year. We also provide worship bags which your children should use to help them participate in worship (the children's bulletin, worksheets, drawing pictures of things that they hear in the service, and writing down questions and thoughts on the paper provided).

    At home, children learn appropriate table manners by eating together with the family, night after night. Eventually the family reaps the benefits: mealtimes become more meaningful, ordered gatherings-true family time. In the same way, children learn to worship by worshiping. This will happen over time, through regular attendance, and strong parental support.

     I'll spend a few months worth of newsletter articles exploring children and worship andproviding you with ideas and resources to enhance your worship experience as a family. Let's start this month with ideas for prepping at home.

Preparing for worship athome:
-Start Saturday night. Establish a Saturday evening routine that avoids the Sunday morning rush. Lay out clothes the night before so that everyone is ready.
-Get plenty of rest. Sundayis a special day and we want children to be well rested for it. Allowing children to stay up late on Saturday will not help anyone worship!
-Make Saturday evening and Sunday morning special. Have a special breakfast on Sunday or do a special activity on Saturday evening. Repeating these activities creates security and reminds children that Sunday is a special day.
-Worship throught the week.Worship opportunities can be spontaneous or planned, but if your family hasn't worshiped prior to the worship service, worshiping there is more difficult.

The children's sermons are also an introduction to the service for our kids.

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