I sat on a rug on the floor in a circle with 10 others. I felt my pulse rate slow, my body relax, and my mind focus on the present moment as Olivia Stewart prepared us to hear a story from the Bible. “This is a place where we come to worship God, and we have all the time we need …”, she said in a quiet, calm voice. I was aware that my senses, my mind, and my body had been invited into a space where I could leave all my hurry and worry behind. This was a special place, a special time. We were preparing to hear a story told as it is told in the Children and Worship program. (watch the new video here).
I love this program for more reasons than I can list here – but I’ll mention a few.
- Children and Worship meets the child at their level with the truth of scripture. Using a multisensory approach, the children watch the story unfold as the storyteller uses 3-dimensional wooden figures on a prepared background. The children are invited to wonder together about the story and to respond individually.
- Children are loved in Children and Worship. They are greeted by name, they are spoken to with kindness and respect. The child’s responses (in the form of artwork) to the story are cherished and kept in the worship center. This is a place where they ‘belong’. Each week the children leave with a personal blessing…“Anna, you are a dearly loved child of God. Go in peace to love and serve your Lord.”
- Children and Worship is counter-cultural in a good way. In a world that is fast-paced, noisy, and always reaching for more, the worship center is a place where we have ‘all the time we need...', all the time we need to listen, to learn, to enjoy God and each other, to respond and make something that is valued, and to be loved.
- Children and Worship is intergenerational in that children are known and loved by others from their church family, and in the worship center they are engaging in worship together. There are so many great ways to connect the experience the children are having to the worship in the ‘big church’, but that is another blog post. Let’s just say that the emphasis on the church seasons, the biblical narrative, the feasts, the responses, and so much more, are beautiful elements that can be experienced and understood by all.
- Children and Worship is truly a time of worship. Using a fourfold order of worship format, there is 1) a gathering of God’s people in the welcome, singing, and praise, 2) Bible teaching – the Bible story is told and children wonder aloud or silently, 3) Response to the Word – the children choose their response, the story is read again from the Bible, and a feast is shared, 4) Sending out of God’s people – each child receives a sending blessing. This is not a glorified nursery. This is not for entertainment’s sake. This is worship.
So I close with the question, how often do you or your children experience a safe place where you have all the time you need to experience God? What a precious gift!