Let The Children Come To Me: Part II

Josh Kerr —  November 26, 2013

Photo Mar 02, 5 54 52 PM

(This is part of our Children in Worship series.)

In my last post, I wrote about the importance of having children in worship.  There was a fair amount of discussion about that post on Facebook, and a logical next step in that conversation is sharing some ideas for making worship more welcoming and engaging for all of God’s children, including, naturally, children.

1. Write a liturgy that involves the whole person.

God created us with more than ears for hearing and bottoms for sitting.  We can and should sing, shout, move, dance, and engage our whole created selves in our worship.

2.  Keep the liturgy seasonal.

Most churches already observe the seasons of the liturgical year, but we can immerse our entire liturgy in the season.  We can make every word and gesture point to that moment in the life of the church.  For example, we often sing a response after our Prayer of Confession.  By using the same response during Advent, kids can learn and sing it every week.

3.  Commit as a congregation to having kids in worship.

This one is easier said than done.  Kids are wiggly, loud, and can be distracting, especially for parents.  It will take training, education, and teamwork.  If a parent is having trouble with a toddler, offer to take over for a little while.  It is no small task to change from a worship environment long sterilized from noises and wiggles to one including the whole congregation.

4.  Proclaim the Word then walk away, preacher.

Most sermons don’t really need to be twenty minutes long, do they?  How many adults really listen that long?

5.  Include children in the sacraments.  

I love seeing children partake in the Lord’s Supper and watch intently during baptisms.  Do they understand everything that is going on when we eat the bread, drink the cup, and pour the font?  No. But in participating they hear of God’s love for them and are invited to ask questions like, “Daddy, why did we have a snack in worship today?” “Well, son, let me tell you…”

6.  Lastly, say it like you mean it.

When you read scripture, read it like it is God’s word for the world, because it is.  When you offer a prayer of thanksgiving, sound truly thankful.  When we embody the liturgy through our voices and movements, we invite all listening, especially children into the worshiping act.

These are just a few things that came to mind when thinking about worship that is more inviting to children.  The funny thing is, I think most of these suggestions also make worship better for everyone.  Please let me know what you think!  What suggestions am I missing?  What do I have all wrong?  Continue this conversation!

(This is part of our Children in Worship series.)

Josh Kerr

Posts Facebook

Josh is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Perry, OK and completed his seminary studies at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. He is a father, husband, and hater of cliches.