Welcome, Children & Families!
Here at Abiding Presence, we believe children are welcome and have an important place in worship! In the book of Mark, we hear from Jesus...
People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’ And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them. (Mark 10:13-16, NRSV)
Jesus longs to encounter people of all ages! Children can and do encounter Jesus in worship, just as adults do. They hear God’s word in the reading of scripture and in a children’s message designed for young ears and eager minds. They share in God’s grace and forgiveness as we share in Holy Communion. They celebrate and welcome new members into the body of Christ in their participation in Holy Baptism. They lift their joyful voices in songs and hymns of praise. They pray as part of the community of the faithful. In all of these things, children participate alongside adults in our faith family.
Worship is an important place for all of us, including children, to experience God’s grace, learn how to give thanks to God and grow in relationship with God. The ritual of worship has been a historic and primary means of passing on the faith throughout the ages. Ritual is also a primary method of learning for young children. Children and worship, therefore, go together beautifully! Worship is a place where ritual is available and welcoming, week after week, to connect us with God and a faith family. Children can find a sense of identity and belonging in the ritual of worship and are sent to use their hands and feet to share the love of Jesus with the world.
Parents, grandparents and other caregivers...
We wish to offer you grace as you teach the children in your family how to worship. The pastors, staff and congregation are here to support you as you raise children in the faith. You can help us say, “Welcome,” to your children by…
- Making worship a priority in your child’s life.
- Modeling the faith life you want your children to have by making worship a priority in your life, too. Talk positively and joyfully about church so your children catch on that church is a good place to be.
- If you have young children, sitting close to the front where they can see what is going on. Help them follow along in the bulletin. Use the notes on the side of the bulletin during the service and at home during the week to help children learn what different parts of the service mean and how they can participate. If your little one isn’t quite ready for the front, pick a row near the back for easy access to the hallway and/or nursery if needed.
- Picking up a children’s worship bag from the ushers on your way into worship. If you bring some of your child’s favorite items from home, please pick quiet items.
- Not expecting too much from young children. It is okay if they cannot sit through an entire service or a sermon without a break in the hallway, especially if worship is new to them. Regular participation in worship will help set the expectations for what is acceptable worship behavior. Some of our families with toddlers and preschoolers have their children worship with them through the children’s sermon, go to the nursery during the readings and sermon and then come back to join the congregation at the time of the offering so they can participate in Holy Communion.
- Knowing when to say when! When a crying child cannot be comforted or is just having “one of those days,” as we all do, please give your child a break. Take them out to the children’s area in the hallway. You will still be able to hear the service through the speakers and your little one can regroup. When you are ready, then come back into the sanctuary. This will give both you and your child a more positive worship experience.
- Volunteering as a family to be ushers or greeters so your child can participate as a worship leader. Children love to help and we love when they help lead worship. This will help instill in them a sense of belonging and identity within our faith family.
- Pastor Keseley and Pastor Eickstadt love talking to children (and their families) before or after worship. If your child has questions about the service, encourage them to talk with us. We’re here to support you and them on your faith journeys.
As Adults in our Faith Family...
We describe our Abiding Presence community as a “faith family,” which means all of our adults have a role in helping to raise the children of the church in the faith. At each baptism, all of us promise to support and pray for the child in their new life in Christ. Please help us say “Welcome” to children and their families by…
- Being patient! Children have shorter attention spans that are challenged by the length of a worship service. Please extend grace to our children as families teach them how to worship.
- Introducing yourself to those sitting around you, especially if they have children or teens. This will allow you to meet someone you don’t know, whether a member or a visitor. It will help the children/teens feel welcome. Finally, by establishing a relationship with those around you, you open the door to providing assistance and support as the need arises to children who are learning how to worship.
- Including children in the Sharing of the Peace. It is often their favorite part of the service!
- When the opportunity presents itself, complementing children and parents on a child’s good behavior after the service. Your encouragement could be what inspires them to come back to worship next week.