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.
Articles in this issue:
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.
Church is alright but you sure could use better music. I hope this does not hurt your feelings. Can you write some new songs?
Your Friend, Barry*
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.