Children in Worship at Shepherd of the Sierra
-Cathy Lovejoy, Director of Christian Education
Children in Worship – For hundreds and hundreds of years, children were welcome and expected in worship. In fact, it has only been in recent years that our culture has moved toward a model of separating children and adults during the worship hour. Many thought that perhaps a child would be unable to understand worship – or that worship would be too difficult with the distractions that children might bring. I’d like to address both of these issues as they pertain to our vision at Shepherd.
Understanding Worship — While children may be unable to cognitively understand some of the intellectual concepts presented in a sermon, or in the prayer of confession, or in a spoken creed, children remind us that there are many ways of “understanding” that are not necessarily tied to cognitive ability. What we hope for our children is that they will “understand” the following as they worship with all of us.
Children belong to the family of God.
Worship is for all people.
God's love embraces our many differences.
Worship is another "home" for our expression of faith.
God speaks to us through many people - not just through our moms and dads or our Sunday school teachers.
Perhaps you are thinking that this is a great list for everyone, and that is our goal, as well. We will all learn from the children, just as they learn from us.
Distractions in Worship – I know there are parents reading this right now – or maybe even people who no longer have children in the home – who are concerned that worship will become noisy and that children will distract us from our worship of God. One of our resources from Seasons of the Spirit reminds us that “communal worship was never intended to be a time for individuals to conduct their private devotions.” If we expect to be undisturbed in worship, then we are certainly not considering how it is that God intends to disturb us out of our complacency each and every week. Worship that includes children – distractions and all – reminds us of our varied gifts, our personal weaknesses and challenges, and our opportunities to extend God’s care and love to the people all around us.