Children in Worship
St. Andrew Presbyterian Church believes strongly in the centrality of worship in the life of the Christian community, and that includes children!
Worshiping with young children isn’t always easy! It’s one of those parental tasks that often seems to have absolutely zero chance of success but which pays huge dividends in the long run. One of the most articulate voices for this long run is Christina Embree, a United Methodist educator and minister, who writes in this blog post about what kids “get” out of worshiping with others in church:
- They get seen, and people learn who they are.
- They get to see what it looks like to pray, to take Communion, to sing with other worshipers.
- They get experience with worshiping our awesome God.
While families certainly may include their children in corporate worship when they feel that the children are ready, typically, children are involved in worship at St. Andrew at the following ages and in the following ways:
Infants through age 3
St. Andrew has two nurseries for childcare during our worship service in the Preschool hallway in Rooms 12 and 13. They are cared for by both childcare staff and by parent volunteers. The church also has a Cry Room adjacent to the Sanctuary, where parents may take fussy babies or restless toddlers and still see and hear the worship service.
Ages 4 and 5
The church encourages parents to bring their children to the first part of our worship service. There, children can participate in the singing and the prayers and can be a valued part of the worshiping community.
Though it may seem somewhat counterintuitive, it may help to sit toward the front of the sanctuary, so that your children can see what is going on. Help them find the hymns in the hymnbook and call attention to the appropriate times to stand up and when to pray. The church also provides worship clipboards and drawing boards; give your children some hints about something to draw that is connected with the worship activities: “Can you draw our pastor as she preaches?” or “Draw a picture of the people for whom you’d like to pray today.”
Four and five year olds may go back to childcare in Room 12 after the Children’s Message.
Age 6 and above
Children are expected to participate in the entire service by the time they are in first grade. Worship is “caught” more than it is “taught,” so even though young children may not understand everything that happens in a worship service, they will learn through experience that they may glorify God alongside the rest of the people of God. To help introduce them to staying through the whole service, St. Andrew offers a Worship Preparation class for first and second graders in the fall.
Worship Preparation Class
First- and second-grade students are invited to participate in a six-week introduction to worship. They will learn about the parts of the sanctuary, the elements of worship (music, prayer, praise), and the sacraments of Communion and Baptism.
Are you the sort of person who can’t stand a scratchy tag in the back of your shirt? Perhaps bright fluorescent lights hurt your eyes, and you prefer softer lighting in your home or office? Do you find that you can listen more carefully if you have something in your hands to manipulate? If you or someone you know could answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you have some knowledge of the sensory integrative issues common to people with ADHD, autism, or other neurological conditions.
Check out our Mermaid Pillows in the bin at the back of the sanctuary as you sit with your family in worship. One side of each Mermaid Pillow is made of the softest imaginable fleece, while the other side is faced with sparkling sequins which change color depending upon the direction they are stroked. Parents have told us that these pillows are very calming for their kids and can keep them quietly entertained for long stretches of time. The even better news is that kids can still hear and see what’s going on in the worship service while they hold a Mermaid Pillow.
We also provide clipboards with paper and crayons, books, and other “fidgets” so that children and adults will have quiet ways to focus their attention on worship.
Join us at 10:00 a.m.
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