At last's week's parish meeting I noted that our kids are SO WONDERFUL!
One of our goals in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (our Sunday school program) is to equip children with what they need to connect with the liturgy—"the work of the people"—in Big Church. A happy unintended consequence of pandemic worship is that our kids have gotten used to hanging around and participating in the entire worship service! I'm proud of us: kids, parents, and all the church family.
If we parents feel content and in a good groove with kids at #canopychurch—let's keep doing what we're doing and read no further!
If and when we'd like to consider various ideas to help kids connect, come back and choose one or two of these to try:
Prayer cards. Help kids choose a favorite #wildwonder Psalm prayer card and illuminate scripture!
In addition to illustrating, some kids might want to copy the scripture onto their own card,
and some might be interested in finding that verse in the Bible or the Book of Common Prayer.
The collectors among us might like to decorate a new one week by week, and amass a nice selection of prayer cards to use at home.
Select an item from our nature shelves (please do bring any nature treasures from home to share!), and use water colors or colored pencils to paint or draw it. This may seem unrelated to what we're doing at church, but activities like this foster observation, concentration, curiosity, and wonder—capacities that we all draw upon in worship and in a lifelong relationship with God.
At the back of the chapel, our narthex nook shelves hold quilts, play doh, instruments, books and other supplies kids are welcome to use. You're also welcome to "check out" a book for the week and bring it back next Sunday. This summer I especially like:
Psalms of Praise: A Movement Primer for the little-littles
Have you noticed the new art on the fence, depicting stories from the life of Jesus?
Many Sundays we'll be able to spot the one connected to the Gospel reading.
Kids can copy one of those images that they like.
You could walk through all of the art, and ask each family member to choose a favorite, or one that stands out to you today. Read the scripture together.
For the kids who are interested in following along with the song sheet and BCP, you might mention that our worship can be divided into two parts each week: the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Sacrament. Both parts declare the Gospel every week! Both are ways in which Jesus is present with us. (Fun discussion fodder for all ages!)
If you're feeling that your kids are capable of paying more attention than they currently do, think through the service and choose one piece that you'd like the family to participate in together. Examples:
"Feel free to work on your art and go get play doh during the sermon, but let's all be back together to participate in the Eucharist. A good clue to listen for is 'Lift up your hearts!' "
Learn and say the Lord's Prayer together.
Prayers of the People
Singing is a favorite for many—and feel free to utilize those egg shakers, etc. The rule for my kids is that they have free rein to use instruments when we're singing, but need to quiet them when we're not! As you know, our church is generally kid-noise friendly. :)
Another clue for particularly important or special parts is when everyone stands together:
the Gospel reading
the Nicene Creed
Encourage and facilitate kids re-placing the materials they've used at the end of the service. I've loved having young helpers rinsing out brushes and making things beautiful for next time. Volunteering in other ways (communion servers, if appropriate; readers; assistant ushers, etc.) is a great way to connect and a lovely way to serve the church!
What do your kids like to do at church? Do they have a favorite part? It's OK if it's getting a popsicle or playing in the creek afterward . . . Sunday is a special day!