This post was created by Kristen Surratt, Director of Discipleship Ministries, First United Methodist Church of Belmont.
Click here to download the detailed directions for liturgy boxes.
One of the things I enjoy most on a Sunday morning is looking out into our sanctuary and noticing how the children are engaged in our worship service. It is important that the children in our church are present in the corporate life of worship. There are so many things to be gained simply by being present. In our church, we welcome the presence of Jesus’ youngest disciples. They are a sign that our faith is being learned by another generation. Their company in worship reminds us of Jesus words, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them,” (Matt. 14:19). Worship is the perfect place for children to come and experience the love of Jesus through song and Word. They really do hear more than we realize!
Yet, while I know that the children are learning by being in our midst, I also recognize that worship can be a stressful time for parents who are worrying if their child is too noisy or distracting others around them. And so, all too often, parents have a tendency to take their child to the nursery rather than keeping them in the sanctuary.
In an effort to help our children learn to worship, we introduced liturgy boxes this past summer. Our children have been excited about these boxes. Our parents have appreciated the opportunity to guide and teach their child about worship, while actually experiencing worship together.
While parents overall enjoy the boxes, there have certainly been suggestions as to how we can improve. I have been asked about using a box that is not wooden so it wouldn’t make noise, but even the wooden box is intentional. When we introduced these boxes, we asked the congregation to remember that the clang in these boxes (it’s usually very subtle) is a sign of the next generation learning our faith. It is something to be celebrated. But, it would be nice to add a felt bottom to the boxes to soften the noise and worry of our parents. Other parents have said that, though they have to stop during their own worship experience to explain and guide, their child is excited to actively participate in worship, and so, it all balances out.
Parents have also shared with me what their children say about our boxes. “We love them!” Another parent shared that through using the children’s Bible in the box, her child requested a Bible of her own. For me, personally, it is wonderful to know that the box used in worship has moved beyond our sanctuary and into a home because reading the Bible at church wasn’t enough!
As the Advent season approaches, we are working to find seasonal objects we can use in the boxes to keep them fresh and relevant to the various different church seasons. If your church decides you want to introduce liturgy boxes, I am happy to speak with you about how we did so, where we got items, and how we plan to refresh the boxes periodically.