Worship and Children
But Jesus called for them and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it." ~Luke 18:16-17
At First Lutheran, children are included in our congregational worship services, following the example of Jesus Christ who welcomed and fully accepted little children. We want to help children know that we, too, accept them as they are and help them realize the potential they have as children of God. We believe, like all matters of faith, worship is caught, not taught. Through their participation in the worship life of the congregation, they will learn through experience about God’s presence and the rich history of our faith, while also challenging all of us to see and experience God through the eyes of a child-like faith.
We understand, just like everyday life, your experiences in worship change dramatically when you become a parent. The responsibility of teaching your children about liturgy and nurturing them as they develop a love for God and a desire to worship is a big one, and can be challenging. It is our desire as a congregation to support parents as they strive to fulfill the promises they made at their child’s baptism. Below are some of the ways First Lutheran welcomes children and supports parents as they raise up young people of faith.
Children’s sermons are frequently shared during worship services. The children of the congregation gather up front and are able to share a time that is just for them. These sermons sometimes help the kids to better understand the day’s lectionary readings, or they may explore topics, such as forgiveness or discipleship at an age-appropriate level. The goal is to have children know they are valued enough to have a special part of the service just for them, to help them grow in their faith and to explore ways in which even they can help further God’s kingdom.
Worship bags are available for children to use during worship. These bags are located just ouside the Sanctuary and are filled with quiet toys, crayons, coloring pages and activity sheets. Please feel free to take one of these baskets as you come in for worship.
While we encourage all parents to bring their children with them to worship, we do provide a nursery for those parents who choose to use it. A staffed nursery is available 8:00 am – 11:45 am on Sundays and on Wednesday evenings during Advent and Lent. The Nursery is located just up the stairs to your right as you face the sanctuary. Caregivers are paid staff with safety certification. Parents using the nursery will receive a small pager to alert them if their child is in need of assistance.
Tips for parents who want to help their children grow to love worship
Discuss worship at home and/or on your way to worship. Talk through what they can expect and how they can be involved.
Bring along a children’s Bible story book, a coloring book and crayons or just pick up one of the worship baskets on your way into church. The baskets give your children age-appropriate and quiet activities for those “down” times during worship, such as the sermon or the readings.
Arrive in time to find a good place to sit – the BEST place for young children to sit is near the front. Our liturgy is full of things to watch and take in – and kids will be more engaged if they are close enough to see.
Give your child cues about what will happen next in worship. Children who can read can follow along in the bulletin and find the hymns. Younger children can be prompted with responses and can recite prayers, such as the Lord’s Prayer, so they can participate. Children like to be ready – help them follow along.
Free yourself from worry about children’s behavior – remember that God put the wiggle in children, so we shouldn’t feel we have to suppress it in God’s house. Usually, children’s restlessness is less distracting to others than it is to their parents and can often be curbed by teaching and encouraging them to participate in the worship service. Children that cannot be comforted can quickly be taken to the Commons, where parents can calm them while still being able to hear all that is going on inside.
Look for ways your children and/or your family can assist with worship. Whether it is being communion presenters, greeters, ushering or helping with any of the numerous leadership roles needed each Sunday, your child will feel like an important member of our congregation when he or she are able to share in worship this way.
On the way home from worship, talk with your children about their experiences. What did they learn in the children’s sermon? Was one of the readings familiar to them? Invite them to ask any questions they might have – and if you don’t know the answer, you or your child can make a point of asking one of our pastors.