Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Whispering in Church

Whispering in church is OK – even good and necessary! 
Do not apologize for it! 
Instead, learn to do it very well.

Whispering is good because it connects children learning to worship with their adults who know how to worship.  Parents can no more worship “beside” their children than they can eat “beside” their children.  Instead they must worship and eat “with” their children coaching them along the way.  During childhood both are team sports and whispering is how the coaches and players communicate in the sanctuary.

The trick is to cultivate the art of whispering in church.  At first most whispering needs to be done by the adults because young children have only stage whispers that can be heard for several rows.  Adults can lean in with instructions, observations, and questions to think about.  As children develop their ability to whisper quietly, they can also ask questions, make observations, and reply to their adult.

What do you whisper about?

>  Call attention to something that is coming, “this is the prayer
      where we all tell God what  we’re sorry about.”

Encouragement to participate, “we’re going to pray the Lord’s
      Prayer.  You know it. You can pray with us.” Or “look at the last
      line of this song.  It’s the same every time.  Sing it with me.”

Suggestions about things to listen for, “Jesus is going fishing in
      this story.  What do you think he’ll catch?” or “there are A LOT
      of alleluias in this song!”

Connect to something at home, (just before the Doxology) “my
      favorite blessing this week was our picnic yesterday.  What was


Share your love of worship, “this is one of my favorite songs. 

      I like….”

Cultivate the art of the no-answer question, “How do you think

      Jesus felt when that happened?”

The whispering need not be constant.  Several whispered comments or questions spread throughout the service are needed by younger children.  One comment on something that especially hits home is enough for many worship savvy older children.

Surprising benefit:  When parental whispering is mostly about sharing worship rather than correcting worship behavior, it enriches the worship of the adults as well as the children.  We have to stay alert and pay attention.  Actually, instead of getting in the way of our worship, it tends to make us better worshipers. 


  1. Wish the elders officiating at communion hand whispered instead of speaking loudly while elements were being distributed!

  2. I love your blog - it's so helpful! I couldn't find a general place to ask a question, so forgive my putting it here on an unrelated post. Also, please forgive the time-sensitive nature - if you don't get to it, that's fine.

    With the election coming, the kids in my church have been experiencing a lot of politics at home and probably in their schools as well. I would love to address this at church (though I only have children's time in which to do that). I think I'd like to help the kids love people across political lines. Any thoughts or ideas you have would be terrific. Thanks again for this terrific blog!

  3. Rachon, Psalm 146 is among the texts for both this Sunday before the election and next Sunday after the election. It insists that we not put our trust in "princes" but trust God. If you add to the "princes" presidents, vice-presidents, senators, etc. you have a great opportunity to explore the reality that whoever wins the election, God will still be in charge and we will trust God first. I'd even consider reading the verse this week and talking about it "before," then promising that we will read it again next week and see how it feels "after".


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