Kids in worship

This morning, the cherub choir and the youth choir sang. The singing was wonderful but my favorite part was the view I had from up front of the first pew full of cherubs. The cherubs are almost all pre-school and under this year.

A few observations about little kids worshiping:

1. You know how there’s a stereotype that men are less invovled in worship (i.e. they don’t sing as much and they aren’t expressive?). Yep, that’s a learned behavior. Even the boys who I’m sure will grow up to be teenaged football players and such were into the service.

2. Let your kids play with the hymnals and Bible. One little guy was paging through the hymnal, which was bigger than his whole lap, with the most intense concentration for someone who can’t read yet. I know that maybe someday everything will be projected in church. I know that you might be worried kids will rumple or tear a page. I know they can’t read it anyway. But the kids with the hymnals were learning to be part of what was going on around them.

3. Let your kids sit in the front sometimes to see the worship leaders. During the choral introit, several squirmers were completely still, mouths hanging open, entranced by the choir. Sitting in the front helps them imagine that they could sing in the choir, play the organ, preach the sermon, lead the liturgy.

4. Confession: I forgot to do this this morning. But, after the service, tell kids who help to lead that you appreciate their leading worship. Don’t just tell they’re cute (and they sure are!!), or that they sang pretty. Tell them their song helped you worship God, understand the sermon, pray, whatever.

4 Responses to “Kids in worship”

  1. Mary Beth Says:

    I really appreciate your post! I keep one-year-old Joshua in the sanctuary with me for as long as possible before taking him to the nursery. I know he’s not “participating” but I want him to get used to the rhythm of worship. When it becomes obvious that sitting in mom’s lap is old and he’d rather play, we leave.

    When I was serving a church, I used to put a twist on the children’s sermon. I made the children’s sermon a time only between me and the kids. I turned my mic off, the kids and I sat together in the front, and I talked to them only. The first week I did that the change was amazing. They went from not participating at all because they knew everyone was watching them, to participating quite exuberantly. Adults were invited to come if they wanted, but only a few came up to listen.

    A few churches I’ve been to enthusiastically encourage children to sit up front (they’re leaving for Children’s Church in ten minutes anyway, right?) so they can really engage in what’s going on instead of trying to figure out what’s going on from a distance.

    It’s amazing to me how bad most churches are at having kids in worship. A lot of people in the church I served were downright nasty about how “disruptive” children were in the service. Bad, bad priorities, I tell you.

  2. steve d Says:

    Spurgeon has this notion that a child’s desire (while not participating) in Communion is her or his training for eventual participation. The more I think about this, the more I really don’t like it. Isn’t all our our participation in the Communion training for communion with God? Doesn’t Christ nourish us at the table and strengthen our spirit to work as ambassadors in our day to day lives? Why wouldn’t we do everything we can to bring our children participating in any way they can? Yes! Play with the song books. Yes! Page through the Bible. Heck, let a kid raise a hand and say “what in the world does sanctification mean pastor?”

    A young girl made what they called “child’s profession of faith” at a church on the south side of Chicago. At the service, I leaned over to a family member and asked, “Does that mean she’ll only go to kiddie heaven?”

    Yes! Let’s get the wheels in motion and be blessed by all our brother and sisters in Christ.

  3. Erica Says:

    Face it–all of us, really, no matter what age, when we stand before God, are only capable of making a “child’s profession of faith.”

    As for “kiddie heaven” sign me up! Sounds like more fun than adult heaven!

  4. LutheranChik Says:

    I strongly believe that little children should be welcomed into the service proper right from the git-go — no child apartheid! I have no patience with people who either don’t give children credit for understanding what’s being said and done in the service (even the tiny ones “get” it a lot faster than a lot of “issue”-burdened adults), or else want the kiddos elsewhere in the building so as not to disturb them, the adults, with kid behavior. This attitude irks me no end. My parish has Sunday School before the service, so that all children, no matter what age, can be a part of the service; we get kids involved in worship as soon as they express an interest in doing so — even if it means a tiny acolyte needing an older helper to light our candles and otherwise do his or her job; we also open up our Eucharist to children who wish to receive it.

    I also absolutely agree with you that male aversion to worship is a learned behavior and not some innate inability of men to care about things spiritual; I think that demeaning men (which denying the spiritual dimension of their lives is part of, really) is as repugnant as demeaning women, and it saddens me that a lot of women who think of themselves as egalitarians don’t understand this, and perpetuate negative stereotypes even in their own childrearing practices.

    How’s that for an in-your-face delurking? LOL Happy Delurking Week!