CHILDREN IN WORSHIP
For two millennia, Christians have understood that the faith is best passed to the next generation through the liturgy of the Church. There, even before explicit understanding begins, the patterns of our faith – repentance, renewal, adoration, praise, thanksgiving, and the tangible communication of the sacraments – are understood by even the very young. Children are an essential and beneficial element of the Church at prayer, not an obstacle to it.
In 2015, the Christian Education Committee along with the Church Council affirmed the following initiatives:
- provide the means by which children can become greater observers and participants at worship, according to their abilities;
- provide for a more meaningful and engaging educational component for children during the sermon (the least approachable aspect of our common worship life); and,
- provide better facilities and resources to help parents accommodate the very young without removing them from the worship experience.
In light of the promises made to children at Baptism (see ELW pg. 228), it is the goal of the entire congregation to provide the means to support parents in their effort to introduce children to the worship life and educational opportunities of this congregation. To this end, the following changes to our worship pattern will be:
- Children will begin worship with their families. While childcare for the youngest children will still be provided (in the nursery and the pre-school room), it is strongly preferred that this remains an option only for the very young. There is something import about families experiencing worship together.
- After the gospel, all the children are invited forward. Those children who have been previously left in the preschool room (and of course, nursery) will not come down to the Nave.
- Kristin Boe or a volunteer will very briefly introduce the Gospel theme of the day (appointed by the lectionary).
- Spark Bibles remain a resource in the pews for older children who wish to stay in the Nave during the sermon.
- Upstairs, an extended and dynamic Children’s Lesson will be led by Kristin Boe or a volunteer. It will not repeat the Sunday School lesson.
- Children who go upstairs will return to the Nave to join their families in time for Holy Communion (during the Exchange of Peace). Even if not every child receives Communion, there is something important about the whole assembly being together to receive Our Lord in his holy supper.
Providing better facilities and resources to help parents at all liturgies
The previous guidelines help to establish norms about the importance of our worship life and the essential place of children as participants in the liturgy. However, while establishing norms, these may not help every particular family with children of a certain age (or daily mood). For this reason, the pre-school upstairs (and the nursery) remain available as before.
We are also initiating the following to help the parents of younger children stay more involved and connected in worship:
- The Bride’s Room will also serve as a Cry Room/Nursing Room. A limited selection of toys, books, and facilities will be put in place. The doors from the Bride’s Room to the Rotunda will remain closed. However, at 9:00 a.m., parents will be able to follow the liturgy via the TV installed in that room.
- Children’s Worship Bags are available to families.
We ask every member to help ensure that these resources are made known to visitors and new members. This is our common ministry of hospitality.
Conclusion: These new procedures in worship are designed to make clear, explicitly and implicitly, that children are a vital and essential part of our communal life together. Children are treasured, so they are welcome. Further, we take to heart our Lord’s command to make disciples. We believe that work begins with the youngest among us in the liturgy because worship is evangelical – the Word is preached and the Sacraments are administered harmoniously to the gospel. These proposals will not change our traditional, liturgical worship. Rather, it will make our liturgy more complete and faithful by saying “all are welcome” because the redemptive work of the Triune God is found here in this place.