Can you worship with the Children’s Story?
Many worship leaders wonder about the place and purpose of the children’s story. The transparent honesty and spontaneity of the children in a public worship setting can be a blessing, but it can also be a source of amusement or embarrassment for adults.
But what does it do for the children? Does it help younger children understand the substance of the worship theme? Can it facilitate a child and God encounter?
Or is it a worship component, as some critics of children’s stories suggest, that puts children on display for adult gratification?
These critics say that children’s story time operates implicitly to marginalize or exclude children by segregating them from the worshiping community as a whole and by trivializing their ways of knowing through moralisms.
Others recognized the children’s story as an important way of making the presence of children, who are not easily seen between the pews because of their size, visible, thereby reminding the adults of their presence in the church family.
Since there is such a lively debate about this among Christian educators and other leaders in children’s ministry, it should not surprise us if worship leaders in our congrega¬tions have mixed feelings about this aspect of worship services.
Research into the spirituality of children keeps providing new evidence of the deep and authentic ways that young children can experience God and respond to God’s good news when they have the opportunity to engage faith at their level. If children’s story time can support such encounters between the church’s children and God, then that worship component is certainly worth taking seriously.
Can our children’s story time become a modern re-enactment of Jesus taking the children on his lap and blessing them? I hope and pray so.
Let’s use the children’s story as that part of the worship service where we fo¬cus on children as an integral part of the worshiping family of God. Let’s use it to invite children to open their hearts and wills to the loving heart and will and story of God.
This can be done in many ways, and each storyteller will work from the gifts they’ve been given. In the next weeks, I’ll post some tips I’ve collected over the years, as well as some of my children’s stories.
May they help all ages worship together with the Children’s Story.