Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Discussing Worship with Children

A friend sent me THIS LINK to a video of a young philosopher talking about the world as he sees it and a thoughtful blogger’s response to it.  I agree with the blogger that this boy has had lots and lots and lots of thoughtful conversations with his parents in which he was challenged to think about whatever was going on around him.  And, it seems to me that if we want to be able to make similar videos in which our children talk about their worship experiences in the sanctuary, we had better encourage and equip parents to have those conversations.  Often what parents need is encouragement to try and guidelines for getting started.  So here is a starter set of guidelines:
  1. Remember most conversations with children are short, on-the-run, and in-the-moment.  Some of the best conversations about worship (and God) take place on the way home.  And, they seldom end with a child saying “thank you, I’m glad we talked about that.  I understand it in a new way.”
  2. Don’t wait for the children to ask the first question or open the discussion.  Instead dive in “when I sang or heard…. I wondered….   What do you think about that?”
  3. You don’t need to have the answer or know where you want the conversation to end when you start.  If fact when you do not have a goal, it is easier to encourage and hear what your child is thinking.
  4. Talk in specifics.  The boy in the video talked about the ant on sidewalk to explore how humans understand their place in the universe.  So start with one thing you saw, heard or did in the sanctuary today and see what it might lead to exploring.
  5. When children respond to your questions or “I wonders…,” 1. LISTEN.  2. Say something positive about what they said.  Then, 3. ask them a question about what they said.  Remember the best questions start “Why…” “How…” (or “How come…”) “What makes you think that…?” Even “could it be that…?”  After responding, 4. LISTEN more.
  6. When you share what you think, follow the young philosopher’s practice of adding “I may be wrong, but this is what I think now.”  It both gives you the courage to express yourself on a topic about which you may not be 100% certain and gives your child the freedom to do the same.  Both of you learn to think aloud together and set the stage for gathering new information to further your thinking.
  7. Using these guidelines to talk and think together about worship every week, learn to use important worship words with growing understanding and even to incorporate them into your everyday living.

 “I may be wrong, but this is my best shot at these guidelines now.”  What would you add or change?

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