A Family Friendly Church - Issue #143
The question of children's presence in worship continues to challenge church leaders, worship committees, and parents. At Sierra Vista United Methodist Church in San Angelo, Texas, it is apparent that children are welcome in every area of the church.
There are children's pictures and artwork on the walls, and water fountains are accessible by children. In the narthex, there is a cart stocked with children's books and Bibles, paper, crayons, and chenille sticks. There are rockers in the sanctuary where parents may soothe small children. In the pew pockets, there are words of assurance for visiting families, telling them not to worry about wiggly and giggly children and that the congregation is pleased to see families gathered together as they journey in faith.
The congregation believes that it is important for children to be actively involved in worship. Senior pastor Steven Sweet says, "the presence of children brings hope, enthusiasm, and passion into the worship context. The worshiping community has a responsibility to pass on the teachings, traditions, and practices of the faithful assembly to the next generation."
Children's presence goes beyond sitting in the pews. Children serve as greeters, ushers, liturgists, and acolytes. During particular seasons of the year, children at Sierra Vista UMC offer the message of the day through pre-recorded video vignettes, provide special music, and lead worship as they are gifted.
Some Questions for Discussion
- When a new family visits your congregation, what are the messages they receive (both verbal and nonverbal) that tell them children are welcomed and valued members of the faith community?
- What challenges does your congregation face in making your worship service a place where generations can worship together? How might you begin to address these challenges?
- What opportunities do children in your congregation have to provide worship leadership?