You may have noticed I linked to an interesting debate on worship, peppered with lots of great humour, here.
Amie commented there
"Here' a slight tangent that Lynn will enjoy. On our church worship forum somebody has brought up a point about how we make worship inclusion for children and young people, rather than making it the part of the service they just have to sit through. Thoughts anyone? "
I thought I would post some thoughts on this topic here. Thanks, Amie, for bringing it up.
How do we make worship inclusive for kids?
Errr, I was tempted to simply say: don't use patronising kids' songs but it's a bit wider than that and strikes right at the very heart of how your fellowship sees children.
In the mould of Stuart Murray Williams in the last post, I have written my own list of questions which could be helpful to a leadership team or to those involved in worship leading:-
1. How does your church view children? Are they seen as integral to the life of the church or as add-ons to be catered to because they come with their parents? As little people who need to "learn how to behave" in worship services (whatever that means?)
2. Why are children present in the first part of your service? Best to interpret that question exactly as it is written - is it to allow Sunday school teachers to prepare the rooms? Is it to quieten them down? Is it to allow families time in the service together? Is it for them to see worship modelled by all generations together?
3. What would you like to see children doing during the worship time - joining in I presume - but in what way? Are they to sit still? Are they allowed to move about/wave flags/play instruments/dance/shout/make noise? And when I say "worship time", I don't just mean when singing is taking place - in whatever you do before the preach/teach or before they go out to their small groups.
4. Would any conditions be put on what children are allowed to do in their time in the service? This is a vitally important question to consider. For example: if they would not be allowed to come out or their rows or pews to bop up and down then half of the resources I would recommend would be thrown out the window.
5. If a relevant question to your situation: what are children taught about worship in their homes? Do parents/grandparents talk to their children about their day and the way they have tried to worship God in all they have been doing?
6. Are different forms of worship practised in the children's small groups on Sunday mornings? Are they given the opportunity to express emotions, bounce around, clap and cheer, bow down or kneel.....in other words - are children being given an opportunity to learn about the ingredients of worship as laid out in Psalm 95 - (thanksgiving, adoration, awe and wonder)
7. Not the last question because it's unimportant - the opposite is true! but finally - what are your church's/leadership's view of children's faith? Please see these two posts here and here. Do you/your leadership believe that very young children can love God so much that their heart feels as if it could burst with love? That they can't get to sleep without telling him how much they love him? And in this, they demonstrate true worship. How is this reflected at a child's level in your Sunday gatherings?
I have so much I could write but I sense this is probably enough for now. I don't feel this is the appropriate time for me to launch into a full description of what I recommend or practise, suffice to say that at the very deepest level it's not about what songs we choose in our services.
I will post some theological thoughts on this another day.
I was asked to present a seminar on children and worship at an external event in the next few weeks but unfortunately that day falls on the wedding day of one of my friend's so I was unable to take the invitation up.
But I'm passionate about this topic!
Comments are most welcome - Amie (thanks again for starting this) and Hideous, what are your thoughts? Do start us off!