Book: God's Children in Worship

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.

Two teacher guides (one for grades K-2, one for grades 2-4) contain lesson plans with detailed instructions for teaching children about various aspects of worship. The lessons include introductions to Christian symbols, preaching, the church year, sacraments; and responses in prayer, song, creed, and deed.

A companion workbook, Congregational Guide, contains the rationale for children in worship, a section on "How Does the Pastor Preach to Children," and guidelines for three parents' sessions, as well as "Letters to Parents" and bulletin inserts describing the program.

The kit also includes audiovisual resources. An audio-cassette contains some children's songs about worship and other worship aids. Two brief filmstrips plus cassette explain baptism and the Lord's Supper in simple terms.

The program is generally well done. The views on worship set forth here would be shared by many Reformed and Presbyterian readers. Here and there one finds a specific Methodist orientation, but other churches can easily adapt the material to their tradition. Some of the theology undergirding the lessons seems a bit generic (reflecting the theological pluralism in the United Methodist Church), but that weakness does not substantially affect the presentation on worship.

If your church is serious about teaching children (and adults) about worship, here is a helpful guide for doing so.

Harry Boonstra (hboonstr@calvin.edu) is former theological editor of RW and emeritus theological librarian of Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan.