Today’s author is Melanie Hill, Interim Director of Children & Family Ministry at Prince of Peace.
We’ve been thinking about how to make the coming seasons of Lent & Easter especially meaningful for families in our church community. To that end, we’re trying out a number of new and re-imagined practices during Lent. This takes flexibility and community support. I’m so grateful to the music team, in particular, for their willingness to change up rehearsal times and allow for a 6:30 worship time on Ash Wednesday, the Wednesdays of Lent, and Maundy Thursday. We hope this time makes it easier for families with kids of all ages to participate—they can be out the door by 7:00 for bedtime or homework or jobs and activities.
At worship on Sunday, you may notice a couple of new spaces in our sanctuary. We are rolling out a Prayground for the youngest among us. Just as Jesus welcomed children, we welcome them with a space that’s just for them within the larger worship space. We know how kids (and many of us adults, for that matter!) listen best when their hands are busy, and we hope this station makes participating in worship with young children easier and more delightful.
Over where Pastor Peter used to sit will be the Prayground—a space with a table and a blanket on the floor and books and toys and projects. It’ll change a little each week. There will be interesting things for babies and for older kids, too. This space is meant for the Faith Rocks age kiddos and their younger siblings. The middle school youth are also interested in acting as “hosts” in the area on occasion, which I think is awesome.
The Prayground puts the kids up front where they can see and hear well—and anyone who has sat with a kid in church knows they’re always listening even when it looks like they’re doing something else. We want them to want to come to church, to be eager to see what’s in the prayground, to experience worship in their own way right in the midst of the worshipping congregation, as part of the worshipping congregation.
In addition to the Prayground for the younger kids, there will also be Creation Stations in back. These are tables with projects on them intended for teens (God Rocks & Pop Rocks kids) and adults to work on. There will be gorgeous posters of the psalms to color and perhaps some origami, fingerknitting, and the like on occasion, as well. This is intended to be silent prayerful work (Hands to work, heart to God…) that enhances the participant’s worship experience. This idea came from the youth. We are piloting these Creation Stations for Lent and will assess after Easter. You are most welcome to try them out yourselves.
We will feel our way into these things together. There will likely be challenges—it might feel distracting to some, unnecessary to others. But remember, we want kids and teens to love church, to feel welcome and included. We want them to access worship however they can—and those ways might be different from ours. Let’s lead with hospitality and grace and see how these new features of our worship settle in and sort themselves out.
Let us pray…
God of love, give us open hearts, minds, and arms to welcome the children as Jesus did—with love and joy, ready for play. Help us to worship alongside the children of this community, learning from them, praying and playing with them, and welcoming their energy and noise and love. AMEN.