Preparing for Worshipping with Children*
Sitting for an hour while still and quiet doesn’t come naturally for many of us. It’s especially difficult for our youngest worshippers who come with extra wiggles. Worshipping with children requires a high level of commitment and a strong priority on the part of parents. Preparing during the week can help relieve some of the stress on Sunday morning.
1. Find Time for Yourself and God. If the only time you spend with God is on Sunday morning, the chance of your feeling cheated out of “your time” is greater. Time spent in reading scripture and praying – perhaps journaling or in a Bible study small group – can only enhance your, and your child’s, worship experience on Sunday morning.
2. Share Your Faith with Your Child. Telling the Story and your own faith story is an excellent way to build your child’s faith and bring you closer together. The child learns that Jesus and faith are not only important on Sunday but everyday as well. Faith and life become more integrated and the foundation is made stronger.
3. Talk with Your Child About Worship. Help build your children’s excitement about worship. Express your own anticipation about going to worship. (Remember though, children are very perceptive and if going to worship is only an obligation for you they will pick up on that.) Indulge your child’s love of the question “Why?” and begin explaining why we sing hymns, or say prayers or listen to scripture. Worship education in the home will enhance worship education and experience at church. Read through the bible readings on Saturday with your children that will be used the next day. PCPC posts on our Facebook page the readings for the upcoming Sunday on Friday afternoon. Not on Facebook? Feel free to call the church office after Thursday at noon.
4. Practice the Responses and Hymns/Songs. Begin memorizing the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostle’s Creed. Babies find human voices raised in the singing of hymns very soothing. Make, or get, a recording of the hymns/songs sung in worship and play during quite time at home or in the car. This is an excellent way to help children become familiar with the songs of our faith.
5. Pick Up a Worship Bag. PCPC provides worship bags for our children that contain paper, crayons, and other activities appropriate for worship for preschool and elementary aged children. These may be picked up (and returned) near the entrance of all our worship spaces. Additionally, beginning Sunday, August 14th there will be special worship bulletins for our young disciples. It follows the order of worship and includes all the liturgy but has been designed to teach and engage our young worshippers.
6. Agree on What the Child Can Do if S/He Gets Restless. Spending some time on anticipating what can happen or on formulating a plan of action prior to worship can save a lot of wear and tear on you during worship. Negotiating with and agreeing on appropriate limits and options ahead of time with your child will give you extra ground when the situation arises. If your child remains in worship through the sermon that is an excellent time to pass them a mint or other hard candy. Having an oral fixation can help with fidgeting.
*Adapted from a resource for parents by the Rev. Dr. Rebecca Davis, professor of Christian Education at Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC.