Pages

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

How To Really Rock This Christmas Season! by Kaila Pettigrove



Summer is coming…

Imagine lying on the ocean, in a boat or on your back, just letting the waves rock you back and forth…back and forth. From birth, we find rocking a soothing motion – hence the popularity of cradles and rocking chairs (used at each end of our life!). Back and forth, back and forth.

And yet, before we can truly enjoy summer; we must “get through” the Christmas season. Hardly a back and forth –with pageants and prizegivings, candlelight and Christmas Day services – we are racing to go STRAIGHT THROUGH!

BUT WAIT!  Advent is coming…literally. As you know, advent means “coming.” Rather than going STRAIGHT THROUGH, it denotes the beginning of our circular church calendar.

As the Rev. Jerome Berryman explains in his book Young Children and Worship, the Church “tells time by celebrating the events of Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection, and his ascension and the gift of the Holy Spirit.”* The cycles and traditions of Advent and Easter add meaning and accomplishment to our lives. Children especially love ritual and repetition, and so do we! Whether you follow an advent calendar, light candles, or complete a series of acts of kindness; marking the time leading up to Christmas enables us all to build anticipation to the ending of one part of the church year and beginning a new one. We are all “born anew” when we celebrate the coming of Christ and God’s ultimate act of love in our lives.

What ritual will you incorporate into your church and your private life this season? How will we acknowledge our innate sense of rhythm and need for that repetition and cyclical feeling? Take a moment, swing on a swing or rock on a rocking chair. Then make a commitment to your advent ritual.













For more ideas, visit: http://www.kidsfriendly.org.nz/advent-and-christmas-resources-2015/


Kaila Pettigrove is a Part Time Kids Friendly Coach based in Auckland. Every year, she tries and tries to make space to celebrate Advent with her family.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The people of God in the work of God


I was meeting with one our “Kids Friendly” churches recently to help them review their ministry to and with young people and their families. It’s a church with a real heart for serving its community and one that invests abundantly in children’s ministry.

When our discussion turned to worship, the minister asked me what I had observed. I don’t really like to be the official “critic”, but my 12 years as Kids Friendly coach means I just can’t stop myself reflecting on how children could be better engaged in the time they are in worship with all ages.

As I shared some of my reflections, the minister responded that their church is not very “liturgical” so can’t really embrace the Kids Friendly suggestions for including children in worship.

Of course I disagreed, as every church, no matter its style of worship, can and must include children in worship if we are to help children belong, believe and become disciples of Christ. Christian educators have long recognised that people come to faith primarily by engaging in the practices of faith. And worship is one of our key practices of faith.

Pastor Alison Sampson in her article “Welcome Children” suggests we need to interrogate our worship (specifically the time children are “in”) to identify what more we can do to engage children. And she reminds us that when children are engaged, invariably adults are too! “It’s not about “dumbing things down,” she says, “but rather finding ways to add movement and symbolic actions that are interesting to all ages.”

In his blog “The sermon for children”, Pastor Randy Engle suggests “There are a host of ways to involve children in worship that are only limited to the creativity and boldness of worship planners.”

This minister and I had a good chat about our faith practices and ideas for involving children in them. I challenged the absence of children in communion the day I participated and discovered children are not invited to participate in communion at this church, not because of any theological objections, but just because they never have….

Hopefully these Kids Friendly conversations will continue, that’s if they invite me back!

The comment about their church not being “liturgical” really got me pondering, so when I got back to the office I followed my teenage son’s solution to all life’s quandaries and “googled” it. And this is what Mr Google had to say: “In the Christian tradition liturgy means the participation of the people of God in the work of God.”

Let’s invite all God’s people to participate in the work of God!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Practicing the Eucharist

Have you ever intentionally observed your congregation as they participate in the sacrament of communion.  Maybe you're too focused on the sacred act (which is what I'm meant to be too), but 12 years in the role as Kids Friendly coach has trained me to be a "fly on the wall" of worship services. I can't help but see everything from the view of an outsider, especially, but not only, when it involves children (or not).

So in some churches I notice a basket of tiny squares of white packaged bread being passed along, followed by a precariously balanced tray of wee glasses of red juice.  We don't use each others names or say anything to each other. We don't even look at at each other.

At other churches we stand in long lines, some more reflective than others.  (It's not unusual at our church for adults to be chatting about the rugby score as they wait their turn).  Once when I took the kids out to teach them about communion, I reminded them to talk with God in their hearts (not their friends) while waiting to receive communion. Later when we returned to participate in communion I noticed the kids telling their parents off when they heard them chatting in line!

So what does our practice of the Eucharist say about us as "people of the way" and the way we eat and live together?  In her blog "Why the Eucharist is useless (unless we put it into practice)", Kathleen encourages us "God's people" to gather around a table as equals, sharing our lives and stories and pieces of ourselves as we journey through faith together. She suggests that when communion was reduced to an "object lesson, we lost something huge, a central component of our faith expression, a core practice that changed us from isolated individuals into a connected family."

I remember a couple of years back attending a World Vision "Just Church" conference.  Our lunch was a feast for well over 100 seated guests and became communion.  At specific times during the meal we were invited to stop and give thanks for the food we enjoyed, engage with each other and remember Jesus and his place in and calling on our lives.  It was very powerful and I could just imagine how amazing it would be to have all ages involved in this expression of communion.

In her blog Kathleen shares ways some communities of faith are seeking to bring back the table into worship.  Read more....

And while on the subject of communion you might enjoy Tim Schenk's post Kids and Communion: 10 things to tell them.

And don't forget to check out the many resources and articles we have on our Kids Friendly website on welcoming children at the table. And please share your experiences and resources with us too.
Click here to explore

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Welcoming all God's children - Disability and our Church by Jill Kayser and Antonnia Hannah

Some years ago I took a call from a young mum whose young son had Down Syndrome.  She was looking for a church to attend with him and following some hurtful experiences during her “church shopping” phase, she decided it would be best to phone a church before arriving on the Sunday morning to ask if she and her son would be welcome!  Now you may find this hard to believe, but it’s what happened.

Normally the caller would have been directed to the minister, but as our minister Pauline Stewart was out of town at the time, the receptionist put her through to “Kids Friendly Jill”.  I listened to the mother’s stories of exclusion and intolerance and assured her that she and her son would be very welcome at our church and that I would look out for them and sit with them that Sunday. 

A few years before we had welcomed three year old Max, (who also has Down Syndrome), and his family into our church, St Heliers Presbyterian.  I remember the delight we experienced when Max’s family (including his two year old sister Charlotte) joined us on our church camp.  When parents Antonia and Leigh emerged from their tent on Saturday morning we knew we, their church family, needed to “step up”.  Immediately a second tent was found and erected to create extra sleeping space for the family on Saturday night.  It was wonderful to watch the church family rally around to give attention to and play with Max and his sister Charlotte, giving their parents a little reprieve from their 200% parenting duties!  What a blessing that time was to us, and we hope they were a little blessed too.  It certainly was a great way to welcome them into the faith community,
Antonia Hannah and son Max
church and preschool.

Being “Kids Friendly” means extending a warm welcome to all God’s children of all ages and abilities. To help our churches reflect on how effectively they welcome children (and adults) with disabilities, we asked Antonia to describe her experience of church and to advise us on what we could do to better support families who have a child with a disability.

“New Zealand is more “advanced” than many nations in their approach to and treatment of people with disabilities, but there is still a level of discomfort and fear amongst many when relating to people with disabilities,” says Antonia.  “And this societal attitude is reflected in many churches.  People with disabilities can come to church, but churches are not necessarily aware of the disabilities and sometimes don’t provide adequately for them or consider what it is like for disabled people. ” 

Some of the questions Antonia suggests we ask ourselves as church leaders are:
·        Do we know / are we aware of the congregation members who have disabilities?
·        Do we have ramps that cater for wheelchairs, Zimmer frames, and prams, say access to the altar?
·        Are the visually impaired able to follow a sermon that relies heavily on PowerPoint?
·        Are families of children with disabilities affirmed and acknowledged?
·        Are they welcomed at our playgroups and coffee mornings?
·        Are there opportunities for discussions about disability?
·        Are inclusive values and love for those with disability taught to the children of the church?

“St Heliers Presbyterian Church definitely is a part of my son’s life and a place he feels welcome and safe,” says Antonia.  Antonia has set up a disability network at her church so that people with disabilities or family members with disabilities can connect.  However she is concerned that many churches rely on a good and empathetic minister rather than a systematic awareness of the diversity of needs. “I think it would be really helpful if Churches ensured that the voices of disabled people were heard and that opportunities for consultations with congregational members with disabilities were made available” Antonia says “In that way if disabled people are struggling either physically or emotionally at Church they can share this. As good as it is New Zealand, for many families it can be difficult being ‘different’ and feeling the warmth and kindness of fellow Christians can make all the difference”.

In 2014 Antonia attended a Council for World Mission conference on disability in Kuala Lumpur.  One of the outcomes of this conference was the production of a booklet helping churches to engage with and reflect on disability more deeply.  It also includes some practical steps churches can take to ensure that the rights of people with disabilities are met and that they are included in their churches and the community.  Download the booklet from www.cwmission.org/about-us/publications  You can also view a document on ‘Disability Etiquette’ with information on enabling positive interactions.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Supervision. Why Bother? by Catherine Richardson

Working with children and families can be the most rewarding and frustrating work possible! One Sunday it seems there are cheerful child-like sponges seated around you participating enthusiastically in the activities you have planned. You just know God is just touching their hearts – and yours. Another week it can feel like your carefully prepared lesson falls off a cliff to land in a crumpled heap – like that half made aeroplane that “someone “ created out of the activity – THAT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH FLYING!

Perhaps you find yourself today reading this feeling on top of the world “I am in just the absolutely right place, doing exactly what God has designed and called me to do”. Perhaps you are considering “why on earth did I offer to help with the children – who am I kidding?” I think we can all identify with the latter at different points in ministry. Which bring us to this blog…. Some reading may already have regular supervision in their ministry with children. Some may find themselves thinking “supervision - that’s for paid staff, I’m just a volunteer” or perhaps you might fall into the group that’s thinking “super what?”

Supervision is not a new concept. Many workplaces, including churches, offer this for staff particularly those who work with, or are responsible for, overseeing other people. Supervision focuses on the “work” of the supervisee and has an educative function. In a nut shell “supervision is a safe, confidential relationship, which provides a regular opportunity to reflect on our work and professional relationships” [1].

Supervision allows us to process the work that we are doing with children in a non-threatening, non-judgemental, unbiased “safe” place. The desired outcome is that we will grow in or into our role, developing it further and in turn grow more satisfied in ministry. Supervision assists in keeping ourselves and those we work with, safe. It helps to examine boundaries, maintains our accountability, challenges us, and also helps us release our potential, provides encouragement, self-awareness, and depending on what we are willing to put into it, can extend our faith (although this is more of a by-product rather than intention, unlike Spiritual Direction). “Having the opportunity to take already occurred or potential situations to supervision can provide a more complete perspective so that action takes place rather than reaction”.[2]Sometimes things happen that we just need to talk over with another person.

Back in 2006 the General Assembly moved that the Book of Order be amended to include several statements around child safety and protection. One aspect of this is that those employed by Sessions or Parish Councils “accept, and have professional supervision of their work from a suitably qualified person who is not a member of the parish concerned.” [3]Interesting that bit about not in the same parish – what do you do when the issues you are facing are with a parent, a child (of one of the elders) or the minister? Knowing the confidential nature of the supervisory relationship means you can work it through gaining perspective and perhaps finding a way to resolve it or “do it differently” next time.

I guess you could be thinking “that’s all very well Catherine, I’m not paid so supervision doesn’t apply to me”. You make a point, as often supervision does cost – not just in time and money, but also in trusting your supervisor. I encourage you to ask God if this is something that He would like you to explore. Ask your church if they could pay for an hour a month especially if you are a volunteer (some supervisors cost less than you think and some have sliding fee scales). Ask and listen to others who have supervision – how does it benefit them? Finally I’d recommend when starting supervision it pays to go and meet the person, “suss” them out, as the relationship is important.

If you are looking into investing the time and $ into yourself and the ministry you are in, go pop the jug on, make a cuppa and check out this link to the PCANZ Supervision Guidelines (especially pages 1,2. 5 and 6)
http://www.presbyterian.org.nz/sites/default/files/for_ministers/SUPERVISION_GUIDELINES_2011.pdf).

You could send Jill a message if you are looking for a supervisor and don’t know where to start, she is creating a list of possible people throughout the country.

I wish you well as you continue to build the church, may God bless you abundantly!


Catherine is a counsellor and supervisor in the Christchurch region. She is the mother of two uni aged daughters and enjoys working alongside her minister husband Brent. She has been involved in Children’s ministry since she was a teenager and spent 10 years on the children's ministry team at Hornby Presbyterian Church (now Hope Presbyterian). She now runs a private counselling practice and offers supervision to those involved in children’s ministry. You can contact her at catherine@richardsoncounselling.co.nz

[1] http://www.presbyterian.org.nz/sites/default/files/for_parishes/07_Supervision_Guidelines_March.pdf 2007 p2.
[2] PCANZ Supervision Guidelines revised February 2011, p1.
[3] 07 PCANZ Supervision Guidelines p9

Monday, June 1, 2015

INTERROGATING WORSHIP by Jill Kayser


Welcome the children


Nothing encourages us more in the Kids Friendly office than when a minister phones (as one did recently) to say that he/she has been thinking about how to more effectively welcome children in church. We can’t get out of the door fast enough to start a conversation.

Christian educators have long recognised that a key to children coming to faith is their opportunity to engage in the practices of faith. As worship is one of our main faith practices, the way we welcome and include children in worship is vitally important if we take seriously the call to disciple children.


Kids Friendly offers training workshops on this important topic (Help there’s a child in my church (http://kidsfriendly.org.nz/becoming-kids-friendly/kids-friendly-training/kids-friendly-training-workshops/) and has a quick survey (Children in worship questionnaire – email jill@kidsfriendly.org.nz if you’d like it,) to help churches identify gaps and opportunities. However, truly welcoming children in church often requires a culture change.


I love and highly recommend an article “Welcome the Children” I read recently in an Australian publication “Equip”. The minister writer Alison Sampson talks about faith as a “culture” that children absorb when worshiping in community. Her church decided that children needed to be alongside adult Christian practitioners as much as possible, building intergenerational relationships that can ignite their faith. To truly welcome children she suggests we need to “interrogate” our worship services. She adds: “We weren’t interested in dumbing things down. We were interested in finding ways to add movement and symbolic actions that would be interesting to children.”

Are you up for “interrogating” your worship service to make it more welcoming of children?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Art of Love by Kaila Pettigrove

What difference can art make? For many people art is a luxury, an extra, or even frivolous. What can practical benefit can artistic endeavours exact?

This question was considered and answered in an amazing way by a ten-year-old girl in Auckland. When her school held a mufti day to raise money for cyclone relief in Vanuatu, Harriet put her art skills to good use.

She created and sold mini-stationary sets with intricate detail, gorgeous colours and ingenious accents.

I had an opportunity to talk to Harriet about the experience and this is what she had to say:

Kids Friendly: What inspired you to make your stationary sets?

Harriet: Mrs. F, our science teacher, gave me a bunch of miniature matchboxes. At first, I wasn’t sure what to do with them. It was then that I realised that the mini pencils I had made for my pencil box fit in the matchboxes. Kate (another girl in my class) really liked the idea so I made one for her. Then we heard about the mufti day to raise money for Vanuatu and I started making sets to raise money.

KF: Which item was the most fun to make? (Why?) 
Harriet’s mini-stationary may not replace
 lost items, but her contribution has boosted
the efforts to rebuild after the disaster. 
H: The most fun to make were the pencils because I got to choose all the colours and patterns.

KF: Do you have a favourite item?
H: My favourite item is the rubber.

KF: How long did it take you to fill all your orders?
H: All together it took over nine hours, 45 minutes for each set I made.
KF: Did anything surprise you about the process? (Was it more/less work? Did your friends react like you thought they would?)
H: Yes, it took me longer than I thought it would. My friends reacted exactly as I had imagined. (They were excited and more orders came in when they saw the first set.)

KF: How much did you charge per set and how much money did you raise in the end?
H: I charged $2 per set and managed to raise $32. Altogether for the mufti day (from chores, sponsorship and my pencil sets) I raised $122.

KF: Do you know where the money will go?


H: All the money raised went to Vanuatu.

KF: What do you hope will be done with the money?
H: I hope that the money will be used to help rebuild the houses that were destroyed in the recent cyclone.

KF: The Kids Friendly art and writing competition always carries the theme, "Love Reaches Out." This year, we are focusing on "Love is..." How would you finish the sentence, "Love is…"?
H: In this perspective, Love is being kind through your actions.
“Kind actions do not cost much yet they accomplish much”- Blaise Pascal

KF: Why do you think it's important for people who want to live a Christian life to think about these things?
H: To lead a Christian life is to follow [Jesus’s] example and lead a better life while helping others to do this too.

Harriet’s project is a perfect example of someone using their gifts and talents to reach out to others in love. Harriet spent hours and hours using her skills, brought joy to her classmates, and helped people she didn't even know.

When we recognize our talents as gifts from God and use them as such, it is amazing what we can do.

During our annual “Love Reaches Out” art and writing competition, we challenge children to consider how they might reach out in love to those around them. They express their response through artistic or written means. For more information on entering the “Love Reaches Out” competition, visit our website: http://kidsfriendly.org.nz/love-reaches-out-love-is/



Kaila Pettigrove is a part-time
Kids Friendly Coach in Auckland. 

Her latest creative endeavour
 was teaching her son to snorkel!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Do you have a good children’s ministry? by Jill Kayser

A minister of a church with a once “thriving” children’s ministry shared with me today how they now only have about five children attending church on a Sunday. “We need help!” he exclaimed. It’s not an uncommon story and one that certainly challenges me in my role as the Kids Friendly advisor and coach as I seek to be “helpful” to churches around the country.

The reality is that children’s ministry, like any ministry, is not a constant. Too often we think all we need to do is offer lots of attractive programmes and all will be well. And to be fair that has seemed to work (on the surface anyway) in the past. But effective ministry with children requires so much more than programmes and unlike programmes, its success cannot be measured in tangible ways.

While still reflecting on this church’s situation I came across this blog “Good Children’s Ministry”. It seemed like a message straight from God. The minister/author shares his “humble learnings on the joys and challenges of forming faith in children.”

He suggests that rather than judging our ministry with children as good or bad, we should view ministry to and with children through a different set of lenses.

· Alternative Lens #1: Children’s ministry does not consist of only the programmes a congregation offers for children, but is the sum of all its collective interactions with children in the name of Jesus. When an adult or a young person extends welcome, friendship and care to children before, after or during Sunday worship, that is children’s ministry. When a child experiences a non-parent adult as a living model of faith in a cross-generational small group, that is children’s ministry. When a pastor extends a personal blessing to each and every child at the Communion table, that is children’s ministry.

· Alternative Lens #2: The most important ministry to children a congregation can engage in is ministry to their parents. Parents are the most significant “faith shapers” in the lives of children. When parents are equipped and supported to share their faith with their children and the parents are themselves growing in faith, then a great deal of children’s ministry will be taking place in “non- gathered” ways. Even if a congregation had no Sunday children’s programme, but was investing in supporting faith-at-home, it would still have a very significant children’s ministry.

· Alternative Lens #3: Children’s ministry is when persons of all ages and stages are nurtured as disciples of Jesus Christ. Healthy, vibrant, spiritually mature communities of faith reproduce themselves as people of all ages “do” faith together. Intentional, strategic efforts to develop the faith lives of adults are an important building block for children’s ministry, particularly where these encourage adults to take more seriously their role as spiritual role models, mentors and elders for children.


· Alternative Lens #4: Authentic and respectful inclusion of children into the 
worship life of the congregation is an extremely significant component of a congregation’s ministry to them and with them. Because faith is more “caught than taught” and the gathered worship of the congregation is its primary faith practice, it is vital that children are encouraged, assisted and enabled to take their place alongside persons of other generations as fellow worshipers. Children, youth and adults alike are formed as worshipers by worshiping. Excluding children from the primary gathered activity of the church, or constructing worship that does not acknowledge their presence and their capacities to give and receive, diminishes both them and the wider faith community. While children may not fully understand everything that is said and done in worship services (do adults?), they take in and apply much more than adults realise. They can also contribute in more ways than adults often realise and appreciate. It is my personal observation that sustained involvement and inclusion of children in worship into their youth produces greater maturity of faith than exclusion of children into separate “children’s church” activities.

· Alternative Lens #5: Cross-generational activities enable ministry to children by creating space for relationships to flourish across generations. The Sticky Faith research emphasises how important it is for children of the church to know and be known by five or more non-parent Christian adults who are invested in their growth and wellbeing. Cross-age fellowship gatherings, cross-generational learning events and cross-generational service and mission activities can be fertile soil for the Holy Spirit to work in the “space between” people of different ages and stages. Mentoring, buddy or adoptive grandparenting initiatives can also be very effective means of tending the faith journeys of children.

“So, does my congregation have a “good” children’s ministry?” asks the writer. “It’s a matter of perception. It certainly is by no means all we might hope it to be. But perhaps what we are aiming for is somewhat different too. Our goal, in my view, is to not be merely a church with a children’s ministry, but to be a church of children’s ministry.”

Amen. Amen. Amen! Thanks to this unnamed Lutheran Pastor from Queensland, Australia and to the Forming Faith blog.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Get creative with your prayer by Jill Kayser

My reading some years ago of the inspiring book “Red Moon Rising” by Greig and Roberts of the “24/7 Prayer Movement” affirmed my belief that prayer can take many forms.  It challenged and encouraged me to think more intentionally and creatively about how I pray with children.
So often when I ask children’s leaders whether they include prayer in their time with children, I discover it is either omitted or the adults pray while the children close their eyes.
Confuscious’ wisdom:  “Tell them and they’ll forget, demonstrate and they’ll remember, involve them and they’ll understand” is worth heeding when praying with children.  Prayer is now always central to any lesson I plan with children and takes all forms: rowdy, interactive, active, quiet, contemplative, creative and more.
Our Christian tradition is rich in written and spoken prayer, but this can sometimes involve too much head and too little heart. Physical actions can really capture the essence of a prayer.
 In her blog “Tactile Prayer – using your body and senses to connect with God”, Lisa Brown suggests that lighting candles, holding prayer beads, or stones, help focus the mind and give substance to our prayers.
Praying through art (see Sybil Macbeth's Praying in Color or Roger Hutchinson's The Painting Table,) offer the artist in all of us a way to put the range of our feelings to paper,” says Lisa.
Kaila Pettigrove, children’s ministry leader at Somervell Presbyterian is involved in creating an all-age prayer room during Lent. “The room will include  multisensory prayer stations, quotes on the wall, candles to light, Post it Notes for intercessory prayer and devotional material (of all reading levels) available.  It’s hoped that eventually we can develop a “prayer gym” with resources and exercises to build up one’s prayer stamina.  The room will be open whenever the church office is open for people to come and spend time in conversation with God,” says Kaila.  
Lisa Brown shares a multi-age activity for creating prayer stones. “We discussed types of prayer: thanksgiving, forgiveness, and petitions. We considered who we might pray for - ourselves, those we love, and the broader world. Then we created our own prayer stones, drawing images on small craft store pebbles. I gave each child a little drawstring bag in which to store their stones.”
Years ago I created a prayer wheel for the kids of our church.  They suggested what types of prayer to list around the wheel and took great delight in spinning the wheel and then responding with the appropriate prayer.
“Tactile, artistic prayers can create meaningful community prayer and focal points. I was particularly inspired by one church's prayers for peace manifested in hundreds of origami cranes, each one lovingly created and then hung in a cascading mobile. At a holiday programme, we created a giant prayer cross, cut from a 7 foot sheet of corrugated cardboard and covered with children's hand prints, each one a prayer,” says Lisa.
Blake with his special prayer blanket
And tactile and creative prayers aren’t only for children.  Adults also respond enthusiastically to the many physical forms of prayer. Members of Waikanae Presbyterian pray as they knit to create beautiful prayer shawls for those in need.  And women of the Karori community of churches create prayer quilts.  My son Blake was a recipient of one of these beautiful creations when he underwent brain surgery.  Each member of the congregation tied Amish knots in strings hanging from the quilt as they prayed for his recovery.
For more ideas on tactile prayer for all God’s children see stories of Lenten prayer stations and prayer journeys on our Kids Friendly website, download our “Kids Friendly Prayer” resource, explore the wonderful world of Pinterest and borrow these books from the Kids Friendly library:  “New ideas for creative prayer” and “Multi-sensory prayer”.
Jill Kayser is the Kids Friendly Coach for the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Glue in an All-Age Pew






"We tend to think of the most sacred places in our sanctuaries as behind the pulpit, table and font or even beneath the cross, but the pew is just as holy.  The space between us and among us in the pew is sacred as well."  Rebecca Kirkpatrick.

I have a confession to make: When I first heard Jill Kayser suggest that churches scrap their creches and bring beanbags and mats into the church and sit with their bubs during service I was mortified!  (GASP!)
The Noise!  The Distraction!  How could anyone listen?

I have changed my mind. I still believe that some people will feel more comfortable in a creche or nursery. I had some wonderful bonding and learning moments with my children in the church nursery. But I do think there is space for our small people to be in the service with us.  There is something about worshipping with all ages that brings a community together in a way that is entirely different than a potluck lunch.  I wonder if maybe there is some kind of superglue that is created as we bump along together through our hymns, songs, readings and prayers.  

Rebecca Kirkpatrick sums it all up beautifully in her most recent blog "Attachment Worshiping: sharing the pew with one another."

"It has been two years now since I left my work in congregational ministry— which means that for the past two years I have been able to consistently worship with my family instead of sitting in the “pastor’s” seat in the sanctuary. We have gotten into a particular habit lately, where my son sits in between my husband and I in the historic and weathered pews of our small congregation.
Frequently during worship I will feel my son grab my hand and rap my arm around his shoulders. He is still about a head shorter than me, so often during the standing portions of the service he will slip in front of me with his back resting on my front so we can share a bulletin. Regularly he needs a simple reminder in the form of a firm squeeze on his knee to help him be still so as to not distract the kind people who worship behind us every week.
I have not gotten too caught up in the attachment parenting pros and cons as a variety of people debate the benefits of baby-wearing, bed-sharing and other attachment practices.

But what I am is a huge proponent of attachment worshipingwith our children: doing what we can to make them feel safe and comfortable in that space; reaching out to them to make worship not just about a singular interaction between the individual and God, but something that we do as a community and as a family that connects us with one another; acknowledging that learning to be still and attentive in worship can be hard for some children (especially mine) and connecting with them physically in that space recognizes the ways their bodies yearn to move and wiggle.

We tend to think of the most sacred places in our sanctuaries as behind the pulpit, table and font or even beneath the cross, but the pew is just as holy. The space between us and among us in the pew is sacred as well.
It is inevitable that we form connections and attachments with those next to whom we sit in worship.  Read More...