A Few Thoughts on Children in Church
Here are a few suggestions that may help:
COME EARLY to get a good seat, preferably in the front where children can see the liturgical action. Yes, in front! Don’t worry that being right up front will cause later embarrassment. Children (and adults!) are more likely to fidget if they can’t see what’s going on. It’s all right if the littlest ones stand on the pews to get a good view.
KID’S TOTES are available from our Ushers. These tote bags are set up by age and contain a few items that may offer your little ones an opportunity to draw, color, read or follow along with children’s Liturgy booklets.
BEFORE THE SERVICE begins you can quietly talk or walk a bit with your child. Point out the features of the sanctuary, especially those with their very own names (font, lectern, nave, etc.).
SHARE your service leaflet or Prayer Book with young readers and help them follow along. Even the youngest likes to “hold the book” like mom or dad. New readers will be pleased when they discover a phase or response that they already know by heart. Children are naturally curious about why “we do what we do.” Whisper explanations where appropriate.
FOLLOW THE LESSONS provided in the bulletin as the lector reads. Since the Episcopal Church follows a lectionary or fixed set of scripture readings, you can look up the texts at home in advance. To get a list of the up-coming readings, contact the parish office.
You might go to a simplified children’s Bible for many of the better-known passages.
HYMNS for Sunday are finalized by mid-week. If you have a piano or other instrument at home, pick out the tunes ahead of time. In church, you might suggest that your children can assigned to find the appointed hymns in the hymnal.
SPEAK to your children in a whisper close to the ear—they just may copy you by responding in the same quiet way. It helps everyone when you are clear about the behavior you expect in church, especially when stated in a positive way (“We all stand when we sing.”) By the way, resist the impulse to add “OK?” or “All right?” when explaining what’s expected. You”ll be stuck if a child answers “No!”
WE ALL KNOW KIDS who are gifted noise-makers without a single thing in their hands. However, for those who do bring playthings, make sure they’re quiet, soft toys. Consider stopping off for a quick drink of water (and visit to the restroom) before the service. However, there is a restroom in the back of the Church.
BE REALISTIC about limits. Little ones cannot be expected to sit quietly all the time. However, children in primary/elementary grades are old enough to participate in the liturgy with your help.
In Sunday School, we are helping our little ones at learning the basics ( making the Sign of the Cross, saying the Lord’s Prayer, understanding who is God, etc.). You may consider taking time at home to memorize some common prayers and responses to help these younger church members to feel included.
SOMETIMES, despite our best efforts, children act up and test your limits. Please don’t feel embarrassed if you need to take your child out of the service for a few moments—everyone, even an adult has a bad day occasionally. You might take a little walk outside on the church grounds or through the parish building. If you decide that your have hit your limit and nothing will do but to go home, PLEASE know that the church will be here tomorrow and next week AND will always glad to see you and your child back.
Here at Trinity Cranford, we love babies and little children and encourage their attendance at Church. Our rector, Mother Gina, is a mother of four and knows the familiar sounds! As a parent you may feel inclined to keep your little one quiet—but we do not want you to feel that you must keep your little one quiet or feel it necessary to leave if your child is talking, cooing, or crying! This community of faith is committed to offering you and your children a welcoming environment.
Parents are offered an opportunity to determine whether their children attend Service or attend Sunday School. Children who attend Sunday School which begins at 9:45 are brought into Church to sit with their parents at the exchange of peace.
CHILDREN bring much richness to the community gathered at worship. They bring news of seeing familiar rituals, they often show an understanding of the mystery of the sacraments lost to many adults, and they take nothing for granted. Their presence is essential to the growth and vitality of the church. Only in the church’s welcome at its most sacred moments can children learn the truth of St. Paul’s assurance that nothing can separate us from the love of God.
Children belong in church. They are part of this parish family and we share responsibility for nurturing their spiritual growth and needs. They will thrive with our loving acceptance of them as partners in the faith of Jesus Christ.