Our church website states that we are a congregation that welcomes children in worship because it matters to us that they know they know they are part of our faith community.
One of my main focuses here at Sixth recently has been to help us live out that statement more fully. I think about this every single time we baptize a child in our sanctuary. In our baptism liturgy, we all—together—promise to teach the children and support parents as the kids grow up as part of our church family. This includes teaching our children how to worship.
In addition to teaching kids about all the parts of the worship service their meanings, it is equally important to teach them how to "be" in worship and what we "do" in worship. Knowing when to stand up, sit down, read out loud, and when it's okay to talk and move around the sanctuary will help our children feel comfortable and welcome. They will be more open to fully participate in the experience of worshiping God together with their church family.
So far this year, we have been working hard to help our children adapt to the rhythm of our weekly service. We are making new children's bulletins each week in an effort to teach the kids to read along. We also are working to familiarize them with the responses sung in church. We have been posting links of recordings of the responses and having our Sunday school teachers review the words just before they head into worship.
If you are sitting with or near children during worship please help us encourage them to follow along with the bulletin and in the hymnals. Our new children's bulletins outline all the parts of worship with an explanation of their meanings. I am sharing them here - with some additional tips on how to "be" and what we "do."
Prelude: The prelude begins just before church starts as we gather for worship. The prelude music is carefully chosen and practiced by our music director and helps get us ready to worship. During this time people are often getting settled in their seats, praying, and saying hello to those around them. It is okay to quietly move around the sanctuary as you get settled in your seats, but please be quiet and respectful to those who are praying, listening to the prelude and preparing themselves for worship. Occasionally there will be special musicians and instrumentalists playing alone or with the choir.
Introit: The choir will sing music selected to begin worship. During this music the Christ candle is lit and water is poured in to the baptismal font. This is a time for everyone to sit quietly and stay in their seats.
Call to Worship: We stand together and read words that invite us to begin worship.
Hymns: We begin worship with a hymn. The hymns throughout the service are chosen to relate to the scriptures we will hear, the sermon and the season of the church year. We stand and sing together. During the hymns is okay to move about quietly in the sanctuary and come forward to light a peace candle at the front of the church.
Prayer of the Day: We stand and hear a prayer for our time together in worship.
Prayer of Confession: We sit down and read together the Prayer of Confession that is printed in the bulletin. During this confession we are together asking God to forgive us for times when we have not done the right things. We try to help all the people in God's world but when we don't we can tell God we are sorry. That is what "confession" means.
Silent Confession: During this time we remain silent, close our eyes, and pray in our heads about the things we want to tell God.
Response/Assurance of Pardon: We sing together and then listen as the Pastor tells us the Good News that God forgives us! Then, we stand sing in praise together.
Time for Children: The children in the sanctuary are invited to come forward and hear a story about God's Love for us.
Exchange of Peace: We stand and greet those around us by shaking hands an sharing the peace God's love with God's family. We can "Peace be with you," and answer "and also with you."
Prayer for Illumination: This is a prayer that we read together from the bulletin. We ask that the Holy Spirit help us to understand God's words that will be read from the Bible and the sermon we are about to heard. "Illumination" means "turning the light on."
Scripture Readings: We listen as scripture from the Bible is read by the worship leaders. Readings can be from the Old Testament or the New Testament. When scripture from one of the four Gospels are read (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) the worship leader will invite people to stand if they are able. If you need to move around or leave the sanctuary, please wait until the readings are finished.
Sermon: The Pastor of the church or worship leader will talk about what the scripture readings mean and what we can learn about God's love for us. This is can sometimes feel like a long time to sit still! f you need to move around or leave the sanctuary, please wait until the sermon is finished.
Affirmation of Faith: We stand together and read from the bulletin words that state what we believe as a church family.
Prayers of the People: The Pastor will lead the congregation in prayer and ask for church members to share a brief prayer. We will respond to each prayer by saying together, "God in your mercy, hear our prayer." We conclude this prayer time by saying the Lord's Prayer.
Offering: This is the time when people called "Ushers" will move around the church with collection plates and gather the congregation's gifts to the church. Our gifts support the work of the church and we give to God because God give so much to us.
Anthem: During the offering, the choir will sing or special music will be played that helps us worship God. The words that the choir is singing is often printed in the bulletin for you to read
along! Please stay in your seats and listen to what the words and music say about God.
Doxology: After the Offering, the ushers will bring forward the offering plates while we sing the Doxology. This is a Greek word that means "to give God Glory." The words are printed in the bulletin to sing along.
Prayer of Thanksgiving: The Pastor will stand with the Ushers and lead us in a prayer to God of thanks for the gifts to do God's work.
Benediction and Postlude: The pastor will end the service with the benediction which means "good word." The "good word" is that God goes with us into the world to do God's work. The postlude is joyful music played to send our time together
Worship information adapted from A Children's Guide to Worship by Ruth Boling, Lauren Muzzy, and Laurie Vance.