Children in the Sanctuary

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Photo: Reminisce Studio by Miranda & Adam

Children and youth join us in the sanctuary every Sunday, except for the first Sunday of the month. For these services, kindergarten through senior high children attend the initial portion of the service with their families in the sanctuary and then proceed to class. Preschoolers are welcome to attend the service, but parents may choose to have them go straight to class.

Multigenerational Sunday Services are offered during many major holidays. Children attend the entire service, and child care is available for infants and very young children.

Helping Children Experience Sunday Services

Sunday Services Are:

  • A time for the gathering of our church family.
  • A set-apart time to consider things of worth and value.
  • A time to come home to ourselves.

Children:

  • are full, important members of our faith community.  They are welcome here.
  • learn by doing and experiencing firsthand. We believe it is important for children to periodically participate in church services.
  • will absorb bits and pieces of the service, regardless of whether they understand everything that happens. By inviting their participation, we hope they will feel valued and welcomed in our church community.

We also know that it is tough for children to sit still for long! Thus, we offer the following suggestions to the gathered congregation and to parents.

Recommendations for the Congregation

  • A smile goes a long way to help children feel comfortable in our sanctuary.
  • Greet children as well as adults.  Be as intentional about knowing children’s names as you are about adults’ names.
  • If you are not sitting with children, seat yourself towards the center of rows when you arrive, allowing children and families to have the end seats; that way they may leave without climbing over adults who will be remaining.
  • With parents’ permission, occasionally invite a child you know to sit with you during the service.
  • Have expectations and kindly encourage children to behave appropriately. For example, expect them to be quiet during our “Silence for Reflection.”
  • Laugh with children — not at them.
  • Be understanding if parents need to take younger children out and then return.
  • Remember the commitments we make when we dedicate a child into our community: to publicly welcome these children into the extended church family, and to take on the responsibility to nurture and support them and their parents through our personal contacts with them.
  • Open yourself to what you can learn from our children as well as what you might be able to teach them.
  • Be patient with the learning process — it won’t always be smooth!

Recommendation for Parents

  • Get settled in the sanctuary early, preferably before the Prelude begins (when conversation should be minimal).
  • Consider sitting near the front; children who can see feel more involved.
  • Introduce yourself and your child to the people sitting nearby.
  • If the Prelude has not begun, review the order of service and help children understand what will be happening. Comment on any special events, such as child dedications or new member welcoming.
  • Share the hymnal and order of service at your child’s eye level.  Underline words with your finger for younger readers or whisper each line before it is sung.
  • Whisper instructions to help children learn “service etiquette.”
  • If children are invited forward for the “Story for All Ages,” feel free to join your child on the floor if it makes sense to do so.
  • Look for opportunities to relate the church experience to something that happens during the week.
  • Emphasize by your words and actions that worship is a positive, important, and happy experience.