Children in Church
This church is a family. I’m so grateful for all the ways in which the familial feelings of respect and irreverence, solemnity and joy, tradition and spontaneity combine to make us who we are. As is the case with any family, children are at the heart of this home. Early on we made the decision to include and welcome little ones into our Sunday service.
We want there to be children in our Sanctuary for all kinds of reasons. We believe that these teachings and this life is for everybody equally; all are welcome. We believe that family is important; we want you to share and discuss the Sunday lessons together. We believe in tradition; the early churches tended to include all ages. Most of all, though, we believe that children have something to teach us. We take Jesus Christ’s example in Matthew 18:1-6 and 19:13-15 seriously and joyously.
As Water and Stone Church grows, there will certainly be a full-featured children’s ministry program, but it will take place before or after the Sunday lesson, right alongside adult education and fellowship opportunities. The whole family will always be welcomed into our Sunday service.
Sometimes kids can be disruptive; we leave it up to the parents to decide how to handle their children’s needs (and wiggles) and be respectful of the folks around them. Our plan is for there to always be alternative ways to participate in the service, such as by viewing the lesson through the glass walls at the back of our Sanctuary. These alternatives are just that, however; we’d always rather that you be in the Sanctuary with us.
With all that in mind, I’ve put together the following notes to parents and other participants in the Sunday service. These have been adapted from some other ideas I’ve found floating around on the internet; it’s nice to know that we’re not alone. Here goes:
TO THE PARENTS OF OUR YOUNG CHILDREN, MAY WE SUGGEST…
- Relax! God put the wiggle in children; don’t feel you have to suppress it in God’s house. All are welcome!
- Sit toward the front where it is easier for your little ones to see and hear what’s going on. They tire of seeing the backs of other’s heads.
- Quietly explain the parts of the service and actions of the pastor, music, meditation, and so on.
- Sing the hymns, pray, and voice the responses. Children learn liturgical behaviour by copying you.
- If you have to leave the Sanctuary with your child, feel free to do so, but please come back. As Jesus said “Let the children come to me.”
- Remember that the way we welcome children in church directly affects the way they respond to the church, to God, and to one another. Let them know that they are at home in this house of worship.
TO OTHER MEMBERS OF OUR CHURCH
- The presence of children is a gift to the church and they are a reminder that our church family is growing.
- Please welcome our children and give a smile of encouragement to their parents.
- If you see a parent struggling, please offer to help them!
When we have new families visit us, I hope you’ll keep these ideas in mind and share them with others. I’m so grateful for this church and for the family that we are building together. I’m so grateful for you.