In our June newsletter (we publish a monthly newsletter designed to connect folks to our life together as church), the article I wrote was focused on this topic.
I'd love to hear any feedback that my seven (ten?) readers might have. Since it's written to a particular congregation, I'll edit the article so that, hopefully, it makes sense here in this context.
... many of you have noticed that "children in worship" has become a topic of conversation in this congregation.My hope for the congregation I serve, and for this forum as well, is that this can be a start to conversation about who we are and how we are as children of G-d.
From what I’ve heard, the conversation has typically been focused on how children behave in worship. I think that, for the most part, we all agree that it’s good for children to be in worship. I think most of us agree that there’s a certain amount of noise a child can make, and a certain amount of moving around that a child can do before that child becomes an inappropriate distraction to folks around her or him. And I think most of us agree that if children can’t behave well, if they move around too much or make too much noise, it’s best for them to be taken into the narthex (foyer/lobby) until they’re calmed down.
The trouble that we identified the other day at the church council (governing body in the congregation) meeting is that each one of us has a different definition of “too much”.
We are a varied and diverse group of people ~ I question whether we’ll be able to come up with a radius of movement or a decibel level that everyone can agree to.
So I started wondering ~ what if we re-frame our conversation? I’m sure we already think in these terms, but what if we start saying out loud to each other, “How are we raising up children in the faith?”, and “How are we fulfilling the promises we made to young people when they were baptized?”
To that end, I’d like to think for a moment about we do well as a congregation, rather than worrying about what any particular individual or household does poorly.
1) Among other things, this congregation has a tradition of inviting young people to a front-row seat to watch baptisms, which allows them to be surrounded by a whole congregation confessing their faith and praying for each other.
2) This congregation has a tradition of welcoming children to hear a message geared to them during the worship service.
3) This congregation has a tradition of pairing confirmation students with adult mentors for conversation and worship during the season of Lent.
4) This congregation has a tradition of providing children a safe place to make friends with other children and with caring adults.
I wonder how our conversation would be different if our concern was less about what other people are doing during worship and more about how we as a congregation can best raise up children of faith. I’m excited to continue to hear from you, and to continue to have this conversation.