Today my wife, Hetty, is presenting a guest blog on the topic of children and worship.
A young girl was given a notebook and some colouring pencils and pens while she sat in the pew with her family. After a few weeks, her parents suggested that she listen to the sermon while she drew. By the end of the sermon she had drawn some pictures of a unicorn with the words ‘Jesus Unicorn’ above them. Her parents were amused.
- What did her parents believe children should be doing in a worship service?
- Did they give her any guidance about what she could do with the writing and drawing materials?
- What was the underlying message the child got concerning how she should behave in the worship service and from her parents’ subsequent suggestion?
If you were her parents, how might you encourage her to participate in the worship service?
How would you begin a discussion with this child about ‘Jesus Unicorn’ which could lead her to a fuller experience of worship?
Paper and pencils are fine to keep a child’s hands busy, to keep a child quiet, and even as a stepping stone to taking notes of the sermon but it should never stop there.
Children can draw the stories they hear (and they should be hearing God’s stories, not just theological concepts) or their feelings. There should be a clear understanding of when they can draw/write and when they should be participating in the singing, praying, etc. Parents should follow up with the child later. It may help if the parents also occasionally used paper and pencils during the sermon, and the family shared their pictures afterwards.
Be careful not to let this become another kind of ‘school’ activity.
Help the child to use the writing and drawing, as well as the words they’re hearing and the images they’re seeing, as a way to explore their understanding of God, and the worship of Him.