Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Creating Children's Bulletins That Draw Children Into Worship

We give worshipers a printed order of worship so that they will know what happens when and how they can participate.  But, one church bulletin does not serve all worshipers equally well.  So, many congregations offer several versions of it – one for most adults, one with large print for those with vision issues, and even one for children.  For some reason producing the one for the children is the scariest of the three.  That is unfortunate because children’s bulletins can be as involved or simple as you make them.  And, since there is no right way to do them, so you cannot fail.  I have seen children’s bulletins as simple as a laminated bookmark featuring a single column of icons, one for each part of worship.  One bookmark may serve for an entire church season.  And, I have been involved in creating unique weekly bulletins that include puzzles and space for specific artwork set near the part of worship to which they relate. 
A middle page from a children's bulletin
printed on 11x18 paper and folded in half
To create a children’s bulletin that works for you and your children now, try some of the following:

  • This is a very rough draft. 
    You get the idea.
    Find or create a set of symbols or pictures to print beside each part in the order of worship.  These may come from clip art or from children’s art that has been scanned and shrunk for this purpose.  One church even got permission from the publisher to use worshiping mouse pictures from A Children’s Guide to Worship, by Ruth Boling.  Help children recognize the icons by using the same ones each week, introducing them all as you introduce the bulletin, and referring to them occasionally in worship thereafter.
  • Translate the names of the parts of worship into simple phrases with subjects and verbs, e.g. “We tell God we are sorry” instead of “Prayer of Confession.” 
  • Print the basic adult bulletin in an easy to read, blocky font in a large size for young readers. 
  • Set up a format that is easy for young readers.  When possible turn prayers in paragraphs into prayers in poetic lines with one phrase to a line.  And, help young readers find the hymn numbers by printing them right beside the hymn title rather than across the page.  (Enlist the help of an elementary school teacher to help with this and font selection.  They know things about this the rest of us miss.)
  • Provide spaces for drawing and writing related to particular parts of worship.  A big box under the Prayers of the People is an invitation to draw or write your own prayers.  Space to illustrate a hymn before singing it is welcome.  Some spaces may have directions such as “draw what Jesus did in this story.”  Others may simply be there for whatever a worshiper wants to add.  A box may appear by certain parts of worship regularly.  Others may be printed by a featured part of worship only when it really fits.
Such bulletins invite children to participate more fully in what is happening in this room on this day.  Being offered a children’s bulletin tells children that their presence is wanted and planned for in worship.  Hearing worship leaders refer to them occasionally in worship and ask to see their work reinforces that feeling.

 Aside:  Yes, there are subscription children’s worship activity papers, but they seldom really match what is going on in your sanctuary on any given day.  Homemade children’s bulletins do.  That is a BIG difference!

1 comment:

  1. I love your idea of the symbols beside each aspect of the worship service. This could be helpful for adults too!


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