by Nani Arning
"Shout triumphantly to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with celebration! Come before him with shouts of joy!" Psalm 100:1-2
As the psalmist reminds us to “Serve the Lord with celebration,” we are given the opportunity to share worship with our children each week. Though we may vary what we do and how we do it to meet the needs of our children, worshiping with children can be a source of joy and understanding of who they are.
Begin by setting up a small worship table. The children may want to help you with this, which could easily become a ritual for them. Place on top a piece of fabric or a cloth napkin in the liturgical season color. Display a candle, Bible, and offering basket on the table and your worship space is set. Realizing that you may share space with other groups during the week, make it simple yet effective. Having the same set-up for worship time helps in setting aside this time in your lesson plan. There are a few things to think about with your worship table items. The candle can be a battery-operated candle or one that is contained and is safe from young hands. The act of lighting a candle brings the light of Christ into your time together. Open the Bible to the day’s Scripture and invite a child to read it aloud. Worship time is the perfect time to include offering. The offering may become more important if children have the opportunity to share in understanding the mission project. As you meet during the quarter, perhaps your class has made something significant together that would be important to place on the worship table. Make the space meaningful to you and the children with whom you share your gift of teaching.
You may come across a day of teaching when you do not feel very worshipful and are tempted to omit the worship time. However, you may find the worship time to be one of the most important things you do with your children. When you have developed a class routine, and the children get used to it, they will notice if you have left something out! It doesn’t have to be a long period of time, but time enough to share a song, prayer, reminder of something you did together, or sharing prayer concerns. We also are given the perfect opportunity to allow children to learn to pray aloud. Children hold so much in their hearts. What better way to get it out than through worship and prayer?
It may be helpful to discover ways to make worship active. Signing a few Scripture words, movements, or motions to go with the story, or a song with actions are a few of the ways to keep children engaged. Think about what will help them to worship with their whole selves. If you are comfortable with the worship time, and willing to be open to the Spirit, children will follow your lead. Enjoy, cherish, and give thanks for the children and the gift they are.