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Content about Children -- Religious life

September 1, 2009

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’ When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.”
—Matthew 2:1-3

June 1, 2009

For the last fifteen years LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church has welcomed children to the Lord’s table by means of a Table Fellowship liturgy.

March 1, 2009

The unfortunate history of the Lord’s Supper is that we have always managed to find a way to fight over the very thing that was meant to bring us together. So what are we disagreeing about this time? In many Reformed and Presbyterian churches the clash of the day is over whether baptized children who have not professed their faith should be allowed to take part in the Lord’s Supper.

June 1, 2008

This is the fourth in a series of articles with suggestions for how to be deliberate about encouraging faith nurture in your congregation’s worship.

June 1, 2007

This service centers on the theme of giving thanks for country, church, and children. Each of the three sections features a litany, meditation, and prayer that involve a number of participants from the congregation.

June 1, 2007

When children are young, they learn words that build relationships. Some come easily: “Help!” “Why?” Parents and grandparents persistently teach them to say to others: “Thank you.” “I’m sorry.” We celebrate as these words become habits. When a child without prompting tells her brother, “I’m sorry,” we know that these words are beginning to shape her life and her relationships.

December 4, 2004

Easter sometimes falls during spring break, when many families travel. This piece is not so much for worship planners as for families in your congregations who may be away from their home church; you may wish to consider using it in your church newsletter.

December 3, 2003

The little boy came running over at a church gathering. “Pastor Mary!” he said, with a finger in his mouth. “Look!” I saw a fresh gap where his tooth used to be. “Ryan!” I said. “You’ve lost your first tooth!” He grinned back. “And the one next to it is loose!”

September 1, 2000

Sunday morning has arrived. The children are dressed in clean clothes. Once seated in the pew, mom and dad breathe a sigh of relief and worship begins. Or does it? In our attempts to keep the kids quiet, most parents pass out the candy and become adept at the meaningful glance. The result? Kids become skilled not at worship but at daydreaming the hour away. So even though the family can make it through a service of worship, they may not be worshiping God together.

March 1, 2000

The worship planning team has the mandate to plan services that enfold the whole congregation. However, often our good intentions to include children actually separate them from adults in worship. It may be easy to plan for children by including a children's sermon or a song for kids. A whole Sunday evening might be set aside for a special youth service. But because these activities suggest that the rest of the service is not for them, children can easily learn to feel separate.

June 1, 1997

The children's hymnal Songs for LiFE makes frequent reference to Orff instruments. It even includes an index devoted to "Orff and Rhythm Instruments." At first glance, one might assume that "Orff" is a special brand name or type of musical instrument. In reality, the name refers to Carl Orff (1895-1982), a German music educator who was devoted to helping children interact with music in active, meaningful ways.

June 1, 1995

The elderly gentleman was adamant. Including a children's message in the worship service, he said, distracted other worshipers from focusing on God.

An equally elderly gentleman leaned forward to emphasize his disagreement. He said he was thrilled to see that finally the lambs as well as the sheep were being fed at the worship service.

A mother added her viewpoint. She said that she sometimes got more out of the children's message than the sermon.

June 1, 1995

Reformed covenantal theology and the sacrament of baptism both say that children are an integral part of the church. But our words and actions often communicate quite the opposite. In a variety of ways the church tells its younger members, "Grow up and then you'll count!"

June 1, 1995
RESURRECTION CHURCH, FLINT, MICHIGAN

"Resurrection RCA doesn't have a lot of baggage in the way of traditional expectations for worship services," admits Pastor Paul "Bud" Pratt. "So we have been free to develop our ministry based on the needs we see. And our ministry to the family has been very intentional."

June 1, 1995

Children who take part in the Children and Worship program know what worship is all about. They say worship is "telling God you love him," "showing God how much you love him," "praying to God," "singing songs," "learning about God," "believing in God and talking about it," and "giving things to someone special."

Can you imagine adults defining worship more aptly?

June 1, 1994

"Aw, Mr. Berryman, we heard that story already."
"I know, but did, you know I have heard it hundreds of times and always find something new in it?"
"Boring."
"What??"
"It's boring. We heard it before."
"Why is it boring to hear again?"
"We heard it already."
"Okay. Have you ever celebrated Christmas?"
"Yes."
"Then you don't ever need to celebrate it again?"

June 1, 1989

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.

June 1, 1989

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.

September 1, 1988

Include the Whole Family of God in Your Christmas Celebrations

The leaves were just beginning to change color a few years ago when I noticed the first displays of Christmas decorations in a local department store. It shouldn't have come as any surprise. In our highly commercialized society, shopping malls are known distorters of time and season: bathing suits and shorts appear in January, heavy winter coats in the midst of a major July heat wave.

March 1, 1988

Some churches have Kinder Kirk. Others offer a children's message. Some have a children's worship center. Others largely ignore children in public worship. All of them are responding in some way to the question. How should children be involved in worship?

December 1, 1986

In most congregations children are an important part of worship during the Advent and Christmas season: small children stand on tiptoe to light the candles in the Advent wreath; the children's choir joyfully heralds the news of the Savior's birth; the children reenact the nativity scene during an evening program. To exclude children from worship during Advent and Christmas would be unthinkable. Yet in many of these same congregations children are all but forgotten during Lent.

December 1, 1986

Young children have deep within them a profound awareness of God and great potential for religious experience long before they are able to understand and articulate those theological constructs we adults are so eager to teach them. So insist internationally known religious educators Dr. Sofia Cavalletti of Rome, Italy, and Dr. Jerome W. Berryman of Houston, Texas.