A significant number of congregations in our Synod have a small number of families and children in their church. Often we look at this with concern and wishful dreaming. Growing Young encourages us to lean in and embrace the opportunity for discipling across generations and build relationships together. As a community that means we need to make room providing ways for younger people to engage in the worship.
Looking for gifts to share.
The first thing to do is take time to notice who your young people, children, families are. What gifts do they have? Talk to them about how they would like to be part of your worship?
In the church I attend, a number of young people are into art and tech. Some have joined the tech team to help with the mics. We also have an art corner set up with resources they can use during the service. They are also great at finding tiktoks and short videos that are helpful for worship. Sometimes they make videos for us to use in Church.
Some of our children play musical instruments, we have talked about the older musicians in our congregation inviting a child to play a song with them. There has been a couple of duets that have been a lovely gift to the church. I have loved how the congregation have given opportunities, loving and encouraging Young people even as they are learning.
This is the gift of a smaller church willing to embrace being an intergenerational community well. It requires that everyone in the community sees their responsibility to connect and grow the younger people in their community. It requires everyone to be willing to share their gifts and skills to build up the whole church.
Time to Worship resource
Pulse has just developed a weekly resource to help children reflect and engage with worship. It follows the general path of liturgy and provides different ways to engage through out a service. By asking young people to reflect in the various sections of worship they are able to more fully be present. The gift of this resource is that you could use what they are thankful for in your praise of praise the following week. Maybe work with them to write the prayer themselves to share with the community. You could share their images of what they noticed in the reading. How does it adds to what has been spoken in the sermon. Could they begin a discussion in your congregation about the reading?
Children and young people have insights that sometimes as adults we miss or would never have thought of. Making space to have those conversations can enrich your congregation and experience of being a Christian community significantly.
Questions to ponder-
So how can you more intentionally include your young people in your worship experience? How does your congregation already do this? Why not share with us below or through our socials.
Karen Mitchell-Lambert is ordained in the ministry of Deacon and is the team leader of PULSE.