31 May 2008

Children's Chapel

I've had the opportunity in my parish to develop object lessons for children. We use them during a sort of pull-out program called Children's Chapel. I want to share this week's to see if anyone likes it or otherwise dislikes it. If you comment, please do so on the lesson itself--not on the concept of the program of Children's Chapel. To help separate the two on this blog I'll make the Object Lesson another post from this one. First let me explain a little.
Our parish started this ministry last fall. We have adult volunteers take the children out of the Eucharist before the sermon (during the sermon hymn). We then guide them through an abbreviated liturgy with hymns and responses and prayers pulled straight out of the prayer book. We are not catechizing them, but then we are supporting that effort. We are not entertaining them, though the object lesson should be engaging for children. We are not teaching them another Sunday School lesson, though we are teaching them about our worship. So we try to stay away from playing without a purpose, teaching another Bible Story, or delving deeply into doctrine. It's a guided children's liturgy.
I like it for a few reasons. 1) It allows adults to volunteer for a worship related activity. 2) It allows the kids a momentary break but jumps directly back to a liturgy with guided instruction on a chosen aspect of the liturgy of the Church. 3) It allows visiting families the opportunity to experience formal worship without taking their own children in-and-out to calm them. I know what you may be thinking! But I clearly connect this to guests that don't know what to expect when visiting us. They may never come back if their own rowdy kids bother them the whole time...because our worship is quiet, ordered, and beautiful. Face it, people come from much different experiences and we could at least offer to transition them. 4) We are not trying to replace the family's role to train their kids to worship. This ministry is voluntary so different kids come on different weeks for vastly different reasons. But they always get the liturgy with some guided explanation 5) It allows kids a place to ask questions that they are dying to ask. 'Why do we do this?' 'What is that thing hanging over there?' 'Who is the man in that pretty window?' 6) For those who volunteer, it serves as a great incentive to do the same at home. It's okay to sit our kids down and have them listen to us read, pray, teach.
What do I not like about it? Well, there are only a few logistic changes I'd like to consider, but space doesn't allow for them-so we make do.

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