By Pastor Paula Burchill
We love having kids in worship at SLC. I say that every time I give the welcome on Sundays. I love that about our church. We are liturgical, and that means that we follow an order of worship that invites the full participation of worshipers. God is our only audience. We do not come to worship to be entertained, we worship to give God glory. And that sets us apart from some other churches.
We do know that it is hard work, though, to have your kids in worship. We provide a nursery for kids 4 and under, but what do you do with a wiggly 5 year old? I hear a lot of parents that, while they like to have their kids in worship, also feel like they have not been able to listen to a sermon since, well, they can’t really remember. Some, unfortunately, have gotten “looks” for having a noisy kid.
And to be honest, I don’t think we always do as well as we could in helping parents train their kids to participate in the liturgy. And we don’t always support parents in the hard work of worshiping with kids. I have talked to quite a few families about this. When I had my six years of leave from call, we worshiped at a church that had something called, Kids’ Church, where the kids from around the ages of 4 to 7 would leave after the children’s sermon and return after the sermon.
Last week, I gathered a group of parents to brainstorm some ways we could better meet the needs of our families with young children. And I am excited to let you know that we are going to start some new programs on September 18. The name is still a work in progress. We won’t call it Kids’ Church, because it isn’t their own service, it is more like a time for them to hear God’s Word at their level. Following the children’s sermon, we will bless them and send them with a team of helpers to do a project, sing some songs and hear a short lesson on the sermon theme.
This is not a replacement for Sunday School. Our goal will be for this to be a time when the kids are learning about worship. Before Advent, for example, they may create an art project for the sanctuary to enhance our worship. They may even learn a song to sing as part of worship. The goal is to provide a transition time for those kids for whom sitting through an hour plus long service is just too much. And the goal is for parents to be able to hear the sermon!
“But my kids never had that!” some of you might be saying. “What is wrong with kids being a little uncomfortable and learning to sit still?” I just have to say that I LOVED being able to send my kids out for the sermon. They were in worship for the sharing of the peace and the prayers and communion and for singing, and that was what they could do at that age. I hope that we can see that while this may not be for every family, this is a really important ministry for us. What is our goal after all? I believe it is for all of God’s children to learn to worship him. And there are always ways we can get better at teaching this.
In addition to the Kids’ Word time, we are also working on ways to invite kids to participate in the service. For example, you might at some point notice a bell beside a hymn. This would be a time that kids could play a small bell we would hand out. Kids already help with acolyting, starting in third grade, and with ushering. We are going to be on the lookout for even more ways to engage all ages in the liturgy. We have this ancient gift of the liturgy and I’m so looking forward to finding ways to be even better about sharing it.
So I hope and I pray that you will support this. After all, the church doesn’t exist for its members, it exists for the world—our mission field. What can we offer those who might be new to liturgical worship? I believe there are ways we need to be better about teaching about worship, especially with young children. Who knows? You might even be willing to help on a Sunday. We are forming an SLC Family Ministry Team now–led by parents, so let me know if you might be interested. There are families for whom this is one of the most important gifts we can give them—a time for the parents and the kids to hear the message of God’s Amazing Grace.
SLC, let’s make this happen!