The basic underpinnings of Christian worship include statements or ideas that we want every children to be able to express: I love you and I am loved, I’m sorry, thank you, I have gifts to use in my community. When children participate in prayers of confession, when they sing hymns of praise, when they hear words from the Bible read aloud, they are learning something about what the community values and what can and does shape their lives of faith.
All over the internet (and, more importantly, in congregations everywhere), important conversations are taking place about how to plan worship that fully includes children. Sites such as Worshiping with Children and Faith Formation Journeys offer rich resources for planning inclusive worship and Karen Ware Jackson gives creative ideas for transforming worship spaces as well as sharing resources for families who worship together. These are important contributions to the conversations about worshiping together as an intergenerational community of faith.
And although we feel that there is no better way for children to learn to worship than to participate in worship, we also recognize that worship is a learned language, and there are times when children need more help to connect with that language. Many churches we know offer planned educational experiences to help children and their parents experience worship more fully. (We’d love to hear from you if you do this – and how you do it!)
This bibliography is an attempt to contribute to the conversation about children and worship. Based on significant activities that happen in worship – gathering, saying we’re sorry and being forgiven, listening, responding to love and serving – these books help children make connections with what they enact each time they worship. These are not the only books that can do this, and we’d love to hear your suggestions for other books that might enhance the themes around which Noell Rathbun-Cook has organized this bibliography. We hope these suggestions can help your congregation continue to serve the children and adults in your congregation who want to know and worship God.
Thank you to regular contributor Noell Rathbun-Cook, Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna and Minister of Children’s and Youth Discipleship at Grace Baptist Church, Richmond, VA, for her work compiling this bibliography.