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Involving youth in worship

How do you get children interested in worship? St. John’s, Wauwatosa, Wis., employs several ways to involve its congregation’s youth.

Scavenger hunt
An example of St. John’s Children’s Worship Scavenger Hunt.

One of the newest implemented is the Children’s Worship Scavenger Hunt, a short list of questions whose answers can be found in the worship service folder. “Worship services need explanation in order to be understandable, and that’s especially true for kids,” says Kristi Meyer, St. John’s communication coordinator. “The worship scavenger hunt is an attempt to explain various parts of the service to kids, but in a fun way—one where they’ll be interested in finding the explanation.” Answers to each week’s “hunt” are posted on the congregation’s social media pages.

The congregation also includes a “Parents’ Preview” in its weekly service folder, highlighting a hymn or part of the liturgy that will be in the following week’s service. The goal is to have parents teach that portion of the service to their children at home during the week so they can participate more fully on Sunday during the service.

“Many parents might not be comfortable talking about what happened in church with their kids unless they have a place to start,” says Meyer. “Programs and initiatives like these give parents a natural place to start that conversation.”

Besides helping children better understand worship, St. John’s is involving them directly in the service. Students from the congregation’s elementary school draw pictures for the covers of the midweek-Lenten services, and upper-grade students usher for those services. The congregation is working to develop a family ushering program for 2024.

“It can be hard to keep young people in church after they are confirmed,” says Meyer. “One important way to keep them in church is to keep them wanting to come to church—and they need to be involved in worship in order for that to happen.”

Author: FIC
Volume: 111, Number 02
Issue: February 2024

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