Children play an important role in the life of the church. And while I don't think every aspect of the worship service needs to be tailored to children, I do think it's important to create a welcoming and inviting space and plan experiences that include them. And I'm not talking worship bulletins and coloring pages.
I'm talking about real, tangible ways for children to actively participate in worship, as leaders. Here are four reasons why I believe this is an important ministry for the church:
Inviting. Welcoming children (and their parents) into the church and into worship is one of the greatest, most sincere ways to create a warm, inviting atmosphere.
Inclusive. Creating a place for children in worship and giving them opportunities to participate offers a message of inclusivity and acceptance and gives children responsibility, ownership, and a renewed sense of belonging.
Intergenerational. Inviting children to participate in worship gives them a unique opportunity to serve alongside older teens, young adults, middle age members, and seniors, creating a new sense of community for all.
Inspiring. Watching children lead worship - through song, word, and action - is inspiring to all involved. Everyone benefits.
Ready to begin planning? Here are 25 ideas:
25 Ways for Children to Participate in Worship
1. Sing an anthem
2. Play a piece with hand chimes
3. Sing a combined anthem with adults and/or youth
4. Draw pictures of things they're grateful for to project or display during worship
5. Sing a hymn verse (or descant) by themselves (some great ideas in this post)
6. Process in carrying banners, candles (battery-operated!), palms (for Palm Sunday), jingle bells, or streamers
7. Process in playing hand chimes (random ring)
8. Help decorate the sanctuary during Hanging of the Greens or Advent service
9. Help remove items from the sanctuary (paraments, candles, Bible, flowers, etc.) during Holy Week service
10. Add flowers to the cross on Easter Sunday (inspiration here and here)
11. Participate in Scout Sunday (some ideas here)
12. Play hand chimes on a hymn
13. Play hand chimes with a choir anthem
14. Create artwork for the bulletin cover
15. Toll the hour with hand chimes (also effective during an All Saints' Sunday remembrance)
16. Act out scripture reading
17. Read a prayer or lead a call to worship
18. Serve as greeters/hand out bulletins
19. Help with ushering
20. Carry the cross or serve as an acolyte
21. Help collect special offering (food, clothing, etc.) during service
22. Write a prayer or liturgy in Sunday School (or as a multi-week project in choir) to lead in worship
23. Give a flower to their (and all) moms on Mother's Day during the service
24. Sign the words as the congregation sings a familiar hymn (like this video of "Amazing Grace")
25. Create art for worship visuals (see a beautiful example of a series of "Lord's Prayer" banners here)
How do you include children in worship in your church?