Along the Way as We Worship
Sometimes we confuse worship within the church service as a time when kids are to be seen and not heard; we think they need to learn to be quiet and sit still so that us adults can worship. But that’s not at all what Scripture teaches. Throughout Scripture time and time again we hear talk of God’s people assembled to hear His Word with the youngest children present. It makes sense if you think about it—worship is a time when God gives His people gifts—He teaches us truths from His Word, He announces His forgiveness to us, He invites us to be strengthened and refreshed through the Sacrament. Why would God want His precious children of any age to miss out on that?! In a worship service too, we can talk about God and shape faith as we are charged to do in Deuteronomy 6:6-7:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the way, when you lie down and when you get up.”
Here are some ideas for how we can talk about faith and point our families to God in the worship service:
- Location-Sit in the front to allow your child the best view of what’s going on. Point out people and things they will see to help guide their attention throughout the service. Have them count how many crosses they can see; ask them what color the paraments for the week are; take note together about which candles are lit and which are not; see if they notice when pastor turns to face the congregation (explain this is when he is speaking on God’s behalf to us) and when he turns to face the altar (explain this is when he is speaking with us to God). *For more tips on how to explain what you see, reference the guide listed below.
- Engagement-Worship has a predictable rhythm to it. We stand up and sit down, we say phrases, prayers, and sing songs. All of these are things which children of all ages can participate in at some level. Depending on the age of your child, choose one word they can say at the end of a phrase or have them say the “Amens.” Encourage them to stand up and sit when you do, encourage them to fold their hands or hold your hand when prayers are being offered. Some can sing the songs, some can’t quite yet, but they can dance or clap or hum. You can also prompt your child to listen for key words to tally on paper or squeeze your hand at every mention. All of these are ways all of us can be engaged in worship.
- Prep-Have you ever considered what you can do before worship to help your children (and maybe yourself) be more present? Wiggle and run, visit the restroom and get a drink of water, set your expectations, practice sitting quietly in other settings, grab a book, puzzle or quiet activity. Find activities that share the texts of the week (for a resource on this, subscribe to our weekly Lead In emails).
- Follow Up-After worship review and discuss at an age-appropriate level. Point out things in everyday life that remind you of or reinforce what was taught. Talk about all the good things God gives us in worship and the great blessing that it is to us each time we go.
Redeemer has some great resources available for those bringing children to worship (and for those who want to be a positive influence on the next generation of church-goers that may be sitting near you!) Check them out:
- Weekly there is a portion of the bulletin called “Kids in the Divine Service.” This piece teaches about sights around the sanctuary, liturgy components, and worship practices. You’re never too old to learn something new about what we do and why we do it.
- Weekly there are sermon notes sheets available on the readings of the day for all ages on the usher table. Any worshipers can use these to guide their thoughts and their doodles throughout the worship service as well as at home afterwards.
- “The Family’s Guide to Corporate Worship with Little Ones” includes tips of how to engage little ones with the service, how to help them learn to worship, and even what each of us misses if little ones aren't there.
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