1. Children of all ages can hand out bulletins and greet worshipers with their families or other adults.
2. Children’s art can be copied onto bulletin covers or smaller pieces can be printed in the margins to illustrate songs or texts.
3. Children can partner with adults to pass the offering plates. (Younger children work with an adult standing right beside them. Older and experienced children partner with an adult at the other end of the row.)
4. Musical children can play their musical instruments as preludes or offertories (great way for them to give a special gift to God). The summer when their organ was being reworked, one congregation asked a different child or teen to play or sing as the offertory each week. The congregation loved it AND continued to involve children in this way after the organ was back in action!
5. Children like to do things up front. They delight in carrying candles, crosses, bread and cup, or the Bible into the sanctuary in processionals. They can pour water into the baptismal font before the sacrament. They are ready to hand certificates or gifts to those who are baptized, ordained or otherwise recognized in worship. Last week I saw a five year old boy give out bags of cookies to first time attenders at the beginning of worship at the direction of a pastor.
6. Older children read scripture as well as many adults do – especially when they are asked to read a passage that connects especially to children.
7. Children can pantomime biblical stories as they are read or act them out with simple puppets.
8. Classes of children may occasionally be asked to create a list of prayers to add to the congregation’s prayers or to write a call to worship or another part of worship.
9. Especially artistic children can work with adults or as classes to produce banners and displays with which to decorate the sanctuary for a season or for a particular worship story or theme, e.g. they can create flame colored stoles for Pentecost or a star filled banner for Epiphany.
10. Children’s choirs can be opportunities for children to be worship leaders IF the children are coached to lead worship rather than perform.
|In some traditions children can serve Communion in partnership with adults.|
For each one of these (and dozens of others) the key is preparation. Children need to work in advance with adult worship leaders so that they know what they are doing and why they are doing it. This preparation gives them the sense that their contribution is respected and they feel comfortable and proud in their roles.
I mention this at the beginning of July with two possibilities in mind.
First, you might try out one or two “just to see how it works” this summer.
Second, if there is something on the list you know will work and simply needs to be implemented in your congregation, there is time to get things organized and ready to go as school begins in the fall.