12 THINGS CHILDREN MISS WHEN THEY ARE NOT IN THE SANCTUARY
Yes, children at times wiggle, make an amazing amount of noise, and often seem to be enduring rather than participating in the congregation’s worship. Because of this parents and even whole congregations sometimes decide to keep the children out of the sanctuary “until they are older.” I think that is a mistake. When children, even with all their squirming and disrupting, do not share in the congregation’s worship regularly they miss out on….
F Hearing the Bible stories they hear in church school or at home read in the sanctuary to people of all ages (The stories are no longer kid stories but the shared, loved stories of the whole congregation.)
F Praying the Lord’s Prayer , saying the Apostles’ Creed, singing the songs not just with other kids but with people of all ages
F Knowing they are part of something bigger than they are and that it is powerful and good. This is enriched if lots of people know them by name or at least smile and talk to them letting the children know that they are glad they are there.
F Hearing prayer requests of others and making prayer requests of their own
F Beginning to recognize people of all ages who are part of their congregation and to be recognized by them
F Being there for baptisms and communions to accumulate experiences with the sacraments
F Getting to know the pastor and other church leaders at least by sight (This means they know and are known by the congregation’s leaders which is good on ordinary days and critical when the pastor shows up in a family crisis.)
F Sharing a hymn book with a parent to sing songs at least some of which that parent obviously loves
F Putting money in the offering plate with everyone else in the whole church and seeing those plates carried up front and prayed over (This feels totally different from putting money in a basket as it is passed a circle of kids in church school.)
F Gathering experiences with yearly worship traditions such as advent wreaths, Chrismon trees, changing colors, ashes, palm parades, trumpets at Easter….
F Being disciplined for poor behavior because worship is too important to disrespect
F Falling asleep on a parent’s shoulder or lap and feeling loved
What would you add to the list?