Bringing children to worship may not always be easy, but it is an essential part of their growth as Christ Followers.
It is our desire that worship be a positive, nurturing experience for our children. Developmentally-appropriate behaviors are expected and appreciated - infants' screams, toddlers’ wiggles, and pre-schoolers’ questions and tantrums are normal. We recognize that parents may feel their children are "interrupting" the service.
"Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them; but 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." And he laid his hands on them and went on his way." (Matt. 19:13-15)
This story from the Gospel reminds us of the role of children in the Kingdom of God. Relax! God put the “wiggle” in children.
What do children stand to gain?
Worshiping with the faith community teaches our children the following:
They learn that they belong to Christ and are welcome in His Church
They come to know, through repetition the Lord’s Prayer, the Doxology, and witness the drama of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper – both visible signs of God’s grace.
They build memories of shared experiences of Christian community.
They are enriched by the beauty of music and art as creative expressions of human praise to God.
They hear stories from the Bible read and interpreted, and begin to experience worship as one place where God may speak to them.
They discover that they are valued as persons by God and by God’s people.
How to make the most of worship with your child
You may choose to take advantage of the nursery, Rm. 7, during the worship service for children under the age of 3. Or, feel free to use the rocking chairs and soft play toys located in the back of the sanctuary.
The Preschool Child:
The preschool child comes to worship with:
A rather limited attention span,
A seemingly endless supply of energy, and
A growing curiosity about everything.
While these ingredients may combine to test a parent’s patience, there are several things parents can do to make the preschooler’s experience more relaxed and enjoyable:
Sit near the front where the child can have a clear view of the chancel area.
Prepare the child for the various parts of the worship service, explaining special events ahead of time and answering questions that need an answer “right now” in a quiet whisper.
Encourage children to go forward for the Children’s Moment.
Encourage the child to use the activity bag or pages provided.
Allow the child to bring along a favorite stuffed animal, colored pencils or crayons.
Discuss worship at home.
Express joy in having children in worship.
The Primary Age Child:
The school-age child brings some new abilities to worship:
A greater capacity for attentive listening,
An increasing ability to read, and
The ability to organize and memorize information.
Parents can help the primary child toward greater participation in worship as these capacities grow by:
Helping the child memorize the Lord’s Prayer and the Doxology.
Reviewing the bulletin with the child to identify new and difficult words, previewing together those parts where the congregation responds by reading and speaking.
Inviting the child to follow the reading of the Scripture lesson in the pew Bible.
Encouraging the child to go forward to be part of the Children’s Moment.
Encouraging the child to listen to the sermon for stories, answers to questions or important thoughts.
Talking about church and asking the child what she/he remembered best.
Express joy in having your child in worship.