Children at Worship
The Holy Spirit parish family considers the participation of our children in worship to be very important. Children of different ages may participate in different ways. The information provided here is to help each of us to better understand the children at different levels of their ability to participate in worship. Children learn church behavior by observing adults modeling appropriate church behavior for children and teaching them the importance of standing, sitting and kneeling at appropriate times. Gradually lengthening the time children are in church is an effective teaching method. Children can usually be expected to participate in an entire service in an orderly way by the time they enter second grade.
- We do provide a Nursery for infants and toddlers up to age three during the 10:00AM service.
- The Children’s Sunday School classes begin shortly after the 10:00AM service starts, in the Children’s Worship Center for ages 4 and up..
- The children will be brought into the church at the Doxology so all may come to the altar rail as a family.
The Preschool Child
Some adults may question the wisdom of including preschool children in worship. It is true that they sometimes distract those around them and distress parents by their behavior. In spite of this possibility, as members of the family, they are needed by all of us to complete the circle at God’s table. The preschool child comes to worship with:
— a short attention span
— seemingly endless energy
— a growing curiosity about everything
With this in mind, there are several things parents can do to make the preschooler’s experience - and everyone’s - more relaxed and enjoyable:
Sit near the front where the child can have a clear view of the sanctuary.
Prepare the child for the different parts of the worship service, explaining special events ahead of time and answering questions that need an answer right now in a quiet whisper.
Allow the preschooler to bring along a favorite animal, picture books, coloring books or other quiet toys to play with during the service.
Encourage as much adult-like behavior as the child can tolerate. Allow children to be active within the limits of the situation, as long as the activity is not distracting to others.
Use the quiet time of church as a chance for special togetherness of parents and child which may not always be possible during the week. A sensitivity to the preschooler’s abilities and needs can help make worship a pleasant experience for everyone.
The Primary Child
The school-age child brings some new abilities to worship:
— a greater capacity for attentive listening
— an increasing ability to read
— the ability to organize and memorize information
Parents help the primary child toward greater participation in worship as these capacities develop when they:
Help in the memorization of the Lord’s Prayer and other parts of the liturgy.
Review the leaflet with the child to identify new or difficult words and preview together those parts where the congregation responds by reading and speaking.
Invite the child to follow the reading of the Scripture Lessons in the lectionary leaflet.
Find hymns in the Hymnal and go over the words.
Talk about the sermon and ask the child what she or he remembers best about it.
Encourage the child to listen to the sermon for stories, answers to questions, or important thoughts.
Worship and Learning
Worship is one of the basic ways people learn what it means to be Christian. Children learn worship by participating in worship with the congregation Sunday after Sunday.
They learn they belong to Christ and are welcome in His Church.
They learn to know the Lord’s Prayer and other parts of the liturgy from memory.
They build a fund of memorable, shared experiences of Christian community against which they may draw when they are older.
They are enriched by the beauty of the music and art as expressions of praise and as human responses to God.
They hear stories read from the Bible and interpreted, and begin to see Christian worship as one place where God may speak to them.
They witness the drama of Baptism and Eucharist as signs of God’s kindness and favor.
They discover that they are valued as persons by God and by the people of God at His Church. Bringing children to worship may not always be easy, but it is an essential part of their growth in Christ. The Body of Christ assembled is incomplete in their absence.
ABC’s for Parents and Friends of Children
Arrive in time to find a good place to sit. Sitting near the front will provide children with a better view of the sanctuary.
Bring quiet toys, books, or coloring books for preschool and early elementary school age children. Use the “busy books” that are provided in the nave for children. They contain quiet activities and games that can be done during the service.
Clue in children as to what will happen next in worship. Children who can read will want to follow the service in the Prayer Book and find hymns in the Hymnal. They like to be ready.
Discuss worship at home to prepare children for any departures from the routine of worship such as a Baptism or other special feature. Also give time to answer questions about worship experiences.
Express your gladness at having children in worship. During the Peace, be sure to welcome any children near you. Include them in your conversations before and after worship to let them know that they belong.