Saturday, March 13, 2010

Children and worship

Sometimes they are trained to sit quietly; sometimes they run around. Sometimes they go straight to Nursery; sometimes they stay with their parents.

What do children think of church?

Do children recognize when we’re worshiping? It doesn’t seem to bother them when parents have their eyes closed or are busy singing. I’m thirsty, I’m hungry, I want to ask you a question. The need for interaction doesn’t stop.

So at times it would appear that children are oblivious to that fact that we are “entering in” to worship.

Is this good or bad? On the one hand, maybe they are so comfortable with our praising the Lord regularly that our beginning to sing does not feel different, but like a natural state for them. On the other hand, shouldn’t they be able to recognize a sacred moment? What is it about worship time that makes grown-ups stop talking and take on a different posture, while children go on playing? Is this something we learn as we grow in the Lord, or is it a ritual that we have forced upon ourselves? What can we teach children about worship, and what can we learn from them?

2 comments:

  1. Funny! I was just visiting with some parents at church and we were discussing this - sort of. We were talking about how temperament seems to have a lot to do with it; I do think children's "approach" to church and worship has both nature and nurture in it. And, also, the sort of worship has to matter.

    My older kids were both reverent from the beginning. But, there is reverence in Catholic Worship - and a sense of the sacred. There is silence and [usually] effective use of the environment, music, and gesture in order to awaken us to God's presence....and I do think children are aware of this, on their own level... I do think both of my older kids knew that church was a) important and b) holy.

    Now, the Russians...they have different temperaments. Sergei has always known how to be appropriate; and he has always been a listener. But he is far more drawn to what is said than any of those other elements I mentioned before. Anastasia resents my attention moving from her....sometimes to the point of behaving badly when she wants my attention during a particularly reverent part of the Mass. Zhen is one of the most spiritual children I have ever met...but he wants to talk about Jesus, His message, what that means for us; he wants to talk about Heaven and Hell, end times, the Ten Commandments....all of it - BUT he hates going to Mass because it is boring for him.

    They were all horrified beyond belief when a Russian missionary we know visited our town and was at a more evangelical church with lots of praise singing. Now I LOVE praise singing, but the kids were all appalled.

    Then there is Ilya. Though he was a ready participant in that same missionary's lessons and worship when he was younger, in the last 6-9 months before we came to get him, someone "got hold of him" and read him the "party" line. He is a good little communist now - truly - vociferously defending communism and soundly and loudly declaring religion a "fake".

    All I can say is "Oh, dear!"

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  2. I think you're probably right about nature and nurture. Do you have family Bible studies? I can imagine there would be some good discussion! :)

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