Parenting is hard work. It’s no wonder so many people say that it takes a village to raise a child. At The Table we want to partner with parents to form our kids into lifelong practices of worship.
A lot of it can be caught without having to be directly taught. A child can learn a lot just by being present and engaged with the worship that is happening around them. But we do need to put some intentional work into teaching our kids how to engage in the worship.
Not so helpful
It can be hard to create practices that help our children participate in worship. Some of the “tricks” we use to make it through Sunday morning can backfire.
When our kids were little, Krista and I would regularly use snacks to keep our kids quiet during moments of silence when we didn’t want them to be a distraction. The problem is they now think that church worship is a time for constant snacking! Almost every Sunday we now endure constant requests for raisins.
We are aiming for something higher and better than keeping the kids from being a distraction. We are hoping for more than just keeping our kids quiet during worship.
Kids are not a problem to solve. They are people to love and a vital part of our church. They are members of our body, the body of Christ, and the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. We want to help them participate in our worship. We want to help teach them, but also be open to learning from them along the way.
The first step for us in practicing this starts with being present with our kids during worship. We don’t want to ignore them while we worship, but invite them into worship with us. This involves:
- having them next to us,
- being attentive to them, and
- inviting them into the practices of our church.
This responsibility falls primarily to parents, but is something we share. Parents can ask another adult at The Table if they would be willing to help guide their child through worship that Sunday. We want to be intentional that an adult is present to each child and helping them along during worship.
We also want to be intentional about inviting children to use their gifts and abilities to serve and edify the church as they are able. As they grow, how can they take steps to help lead us in worship? We want to create easy pathways for this to happen.
Helping each other
What am I to do when my girls would rather color, check out, and do their own thing instead of participating with us in worship? I am open to your ideas and would like to compile some helpful tips for parents as a resource that we could have available for people to pick up at worship. If you would like to pass your ideas along, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some things we could try:
- Sometimes it is helpful to put a distracted child on your lap or lovingly hold them while standing or singing.
- We can teach them movements that go along with our worship: like bowing, kneeling, and crossing ourselves.
- We can teach them songs and prayers that we do together each week.
- For children learning to read, we can point to the words in the worship booklet and help them follow along.
- We can talk with our kids during worship (or at other times) about what the different elements around the sanctuary symbolize and their significance.
Thanks for your willingness to love our kids and welcome them into worship!
Grace and Peace,