Thursday, October 4, 2012

Raising Cain: 3 ways to get kids excited about worship

Detail of stained glass window
from our children's chapel in Johnson Hall
Here are some notes from our recent "Raising Cain" discussion for parents about raising our children, youth, and young adults in the faith. Our topic was "children in worship." What are the joys and challenges of including our kids in worship with us? We went around and shared some of our experiences, both as children growing up going to church and as parents bringing kids (or grandkids) to church. There were some great ideas about ways we could make worship more engaging for children and youth.

1.Participate. Find ways for kids to participate in what's going on. Parents reported that St. Cecilia's choir and acolyting had increased their kids' enthusiasm for being in worship. I noted that one church I heard about has a rule that adults are never allowed to do anything in the worship service that a child could do. In other words, they have kids doing a lot of things. Here are some more things we brainstormed to get kids more involved at St. Luke's:
-junior ushers. Kids could help the adult ushers.
-oblation bearers: Children or youth could bring up the bread and wine at the offertory
-greeters. Families could greet people at the door, not just the parents.
-kid bags with mini-felt boards inside. Kids can use the felt boards to act out the story of the last supper as it is being told in the Eucharist, for example.

Everyone loves to be close to the worship action,
especially at a baptism.
2. Get up close. We discussed how young kids, especially, like to be a part of the action. When we have a baptism, they enjoy having a front-row seat. We could occasionally invite the children to sit closer to the altar so that they can see what is going on. Likewise, children's sermons where the preacher is close to the children are popular among children and adults (on an occasional basis).

3. More inter-generational interaction. We talked about how the kids like to interact with other adults at church and how other adults (especially the ones without kids) can also enjoy that interaction. What if there were "church buddies" with whom kids could sit during a service so that their parents would not have to be constantly making sure the kids are behaving? This would allow the parents to relax a bit and enjoy worship a little more, perhaps. The kids might look forward to seeing their "church buddy" on a weekly basis.

We also discussed our new pre-school children's chapel offering which begins in October. This offering will be geared to our 2, 3, and young 4 year-olds. It will meet in the Johnson Hall children's chapel each week during the first half of the service.

There are tons of great ideas. The key is making them happen. If you have energy and enthusiasm about something you've read or another idea to get kids more engaged in worship, let us know!

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