Reposted from Carolyn Brown’s Worshiping With Children
In the northern hemisphere, summer is coming. We can almost feel it out there and are longing for the more laid back season – or at least hoping it will be a more laid back season J. Summer is a great time for worship experiments. People are more relaxed and ready to give something new a chance. The 2 ½ to 3 months of summer is enough time to give something new a fair trial and still have a graceful out for everyone if it just does not work as you hoped. So, as you think about summer worship this year, what about identifying one experiment that will make worship more child-friendly. You might….
- Commit to presenting the scripture reading for the day creatively every Sunday. Invite folks of all ages to join a scripture reader’s team for the summer. Meet every week to turn texts into several person readings, pantomimes, responsive readings between different parts of the congregation led by team members, or readings by the most appropriate person (reader of an age or gender that fits the text). Not everyone will have a part every Sunday (which is good in the summer). Still, because all will be in on the planning and rehearsing they will pay more attention to scripture as it is read each week. And, other worshipers will pay attention to the changing readers and presentations.
- Invite music readers of all ages to join a pick up choir for the summer. Meet before worship to learn a piece for that morning and maybe to rehearse sung responses. You may find new choir members or give those who can’t sing in the choir during the school year, a chance to sing in the summer. Encourage parents to sing with children, older brothers or sisters to sing with younger ones, even grandparents to sing with visiting grandchildren.
- Invite young musicians to play preludes and offertories. Feature soloists and small groups. Meet with each soloist or group shortly before “their” service to prepare them to play as a way of leading worship rather than just performing.
- Invite children or families to serve as ushers and greeters. It is easiest to start with experienced adult ushers and greeters bringing their own children. But, older children also appreciate being paired with an adult beyond their own family for this service.
- Provide worship bags for children. The bags can be small canvas bags or simply plastic zip top bags. Fill each one with paper and markers, a printed puzzle related to the day’s worship, a small Bible picture card or book (check out church school curriculum leftovers), plastic clay to mold (unlike play dough or clay it does not leave a mess on pew cushions), even a single hard candy to enjoy with the sermon. (Find more details at What Goes into Worship Bags.) Put the bags in clearly marked boxes or racks near each entrance and encourage ushers to direct families to them. Be sure they are cleaned out and resupplied each week.
Now is the time to get started on summer worship plans. So, talk with the key people and groups. Then, go for it!
And – if you have another experiment to add to the list, please leave the rest of us a comment.