Hymn suggestions involving children
The "Hymn of the Month" for Reformed Worship 11 included selections for April, May, and June; with this issue we begin with September, skipping July and August. We are adjusting our schedule to give worship leaders more lead time for planning and to bring hymns of the month in line seasonally with other resources in this and future issues.
Why do I have to go to church? I hate sitting there—it's so boring!" I remember the first time my daughter said those words. I shuddered, wondering where my husband and I had gone wrong. But after I had thought about her honest remarks for a while, I had a few questions of my own: Why do our church services so often exclude and ignore children? And what does attending "adult" services do to our children's attitude toward God and his church?
A number of years ago I became a friend of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein through the Chicago area evangelical and Jewish dialogue. As our friendship developed, Rabbi Yechiel invited my colleague Morris Inch, myself, and our wives to celebrate Shabbat with them. Yechiel's lovely wife, Bonnie, greeted us with an embrace at the door, making us feel immediately at home. After a brief time of friendly conversation, the Ecksteins invited us to sit down at the table.
Worship is the heartbeat of the Christian community. Yet increasingly, children below the age of seven spend part, if not all, of the Sunday worship hour having experiences that range from baby-sitting to mini-worship. If you believe, as I do, that young children encounter, experience, and worship God, then perhaps you are also concerned with the kind of opportunities available for their worship experience. I have addressed this issue since 1985 when I developed "Children and Worship," a multisensory approach to worship with young children.
Sometimes our praise can't be contained in words
Liturgical dance is quite new to many Christians in the Reformed/ Presbyterian tradition. We are often unsure of its place in our worship. And we have many practical questions about who dances, what form the dance takes, and what clothing the dancers wear.
Teaching small children proper behavior for a church service is no small task. Being quiet and sitting still seems nearly impossible for most wiggly little ones—especially little ones who have spent every Sunday in memory playing dolls, trucks, and building blocks in the church nursery and who suddenly decide to try church cold turkey.
by Sonja M. Stewart and Jerome W. Berryman. Westminster Press, 1989.
See "Letting the Story Stand" (p. 25) for further information about the program described in this book.
Our Heritage of Hymns. Choristers Guild, 1986
Exploring the Hymnal. Choristers Guild, 1986.
These two educational books, reviewed in RW 5, are excellent resources for teaching children about the hymns of the church.
by Margie Morris.Discipleship Resources, 1988. 66 pp.
What can you do at home to make church more meaningful for your children? A Methodist author presents sensible, workable discussions, exercises, and games to help children understand worship and become a part of it. She demonstrates how we can explain various aspects of the worship service and how children can be participants who joyfully share in praising God. In some ways this is a simplified version of the Ng and Thomas book—a good place to start.
My work with children in worship begins from my own narrative — from what I remember of my worship experiences as a child. Like many other Black Baptist churches, the Canaan Baptist Church of Chicago gave children plenty of opportunities to participate actively in worship. We marched down the aisles of our church, singing and swaying to the hymns. We served as junior ushers, escorting parishioners to their pews. We collected money and prayed offertory prayers.
Discipleship Resources, 1988.
This brand-new package by the United Methodist Church is an ambitious undertaking. It features a thirteen-session instruction program, aimed at systematically teaching children and parents about worship.
Children's sermons should bring good news rather than grand expectations
The pressure is on. The council has votedyes on the parents'proposal that each morning service include a children's sermon. It's up to the worship committee and the pastor to come up with some topics.
The quickest solution is also one of the worst. It's something we've all witnessed far too often:
by Mary Catherine Berglund. The Pastoral Press, 1987. 137 pp.
Gather the Children, a Roman Catholic resource, places more emphasis on Scripture than do most Protestant books on children and worship. The book is intended for "children's church," the period when children leave the sanctuary, but Berglund clearly expects them to return for the eucharist.
Using the church year to teach the mighty acts of God
Dirk is five. He wiggles a lot in church. Sings some. Talks too much. And doesn't get much out of the sermon. Sometimes a musical instrument, a choir, or a change of banners and colors catches his attention—but not often enough. Usually worship is words and ideas rather than the concrete objects, people, and events that have meaning for children. So Dirk returns to his crayons.
by A. Roger Gobbel and Phillip C. Huber. John Knox Press, 1981. 106 pp.
Creative Designs is several cuts above most other books about children's sermons. The (Lutheran) authors begin (pp. 3-40) with a carefully reasoned explanation of the role of children in worship ("Not what we can do for children, but what we can do along with children"). The rest of the book is devoted to forty-three conversations (containing many questions) an adult can have with children as part of the worship service.
A challenge to include children in all our worship activities
by Patricia Nederveld
Dear Lord God,
I pray to
You every day
For what I need
And you give it to me.
I will keep on praising
Jesus, I love You.
"A Psalm of Jasmine"
by Arline J. Ban. Judson Press, 1981. 128 pp.
Children's Time was written in the context of rather traditional Baptist churches who want to make the worship service more meaningful to children. Ban considers the dilemma of children remaining in the service versus being separated to a another worship place. She opts (mildly) for the first and makes a number of suggestions for incorporating. children into the regular service.
Why the RCA said yes to baptized children at the Lords Supper
Should children be permitted at the Lord's table?
Thirty years ago that question would not have come up in most evangelical churches. But today many churches have studied that question seriously (see box). And many members of these churches believe baptized children should be allowed and encouraged to participate in the Lord's Supper./p>
Why this shift in thinking? What has prompted the discussion? What issues are at stake?
Today we celebrate the greatness of our God—the one who created us with minds to learn, gave us the abilities to master skills, and opens our hearts to understand that all learning is for his glory. We ask each person worshiping here today, whether four or eighty-four, to stand as we now celebrate schooling in this "Litany of Learning."
by David Ng and Virginia Thomas. John Knox Press, 1981. 156 pp.
This book has become somewhat of a standard text and remains one of the best guides on children and (or rather in) worship. Sensitive to biblical models, Reformed theology, and child development, the authors present a compelling case for children as full participants in worship. Ng and Thomas recognize that such inclusiveness requires deliberate effort on the part of the home and the church. They suggest routes for moving congregations in that direction.
by Sheri Triezenberg and Susan K. Verwys. Grand Rapids, 1988. Available from the authors, 2551 Birchcrest SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506. $28.50.
Baptism: a Celebration of God's Presence is a twenty-sheet resource packet intended to highlight a child's baptism. It contains statements on the meaning and importance of baptism and guides for specific practices that will make the sacrament more celebrative. The guides include suggestions for banner making and for conducting the baptismal service.
I wonder if you realize how much your quarterly publication is admired. At classis I asked how many use it and was happy to see so many hands go up. Comments are so favorable, and you are making a nation-(continent?) wide impact. Thank you.
Celebrating the worldwide church of Christ
OUR WORSHIP BEGINS
Introit: "In the Presence of Your People"1
Text from Psalm 22 and 145
Tune with characteristics of the hora, a Jewish circle dance
Psalm 96 [responsively]
Hymn: "All Creatures of Our God and King "2
Worship Resource File
Several helpful RW subscribers have submitted resources they developed in using the Psalter Hymnal (PsH). In addition, the CRC Worship Committee has worked on two combined liturgies. To receive any of these resources, just write us and ask.