I get invited to write all kinds of things for the church and to craft all kinds of activities for its children. And I’m not sure I’ve ever felt as intrigued by a project as I was by the invitation to write the four Kids Celebrate booklets that accompany All Creation Sings. As a child, I remember so many unwritten and unspoken understandings that went along with worship—the rhythm of the liturgy, the details in the bulletin, the difference between the big and small numbers in the hymnal. Everything felt like a secret code of some sort, ready to be cracked. Every Sunday felt like an opportunity to level up even while I reveled in the familiar cadences and prayer patterns.
Years later, as an adult with more than 15 years of ordained ministry under my belt, I still feel like I’m unlocking secret codes when it comes to worship. Some of them are actual metric codes (the metrical index of tunes), some are more linguistic in nature (what’s a “sacristan,” anyway?), and some are about context and culture (why do we do it this way over here and a different way over there?). Crafting the activities included in these four booklets felt like a way to invite a new generation of children (and their grown-ups!) into this same experience of delight and discovery when it comes to worship, song, and liturgy.
The best part about them (apart from the stunningly gorgeous cover art, for which I can take absolutely no credit) is that there’s something for everyone. Does your child struggle to read, or simply prefer to express themself through art? Great—each bulletin includes the invitation to illustrate a hymn, which they can either read themself or have someone read to them. Do you know a kid who loves a good set of rules or guidelines? Great—they can learn how a hymn is laid out, and then write a letter to someone using the same set of guidelines.
A good portion of the activities require the kids to interact with members of their worshipping community, even just to ask for an autograph here or there. Additionally, each booklet states very plainly that the child may need to ask for help. I’m under no illusions that most adults in our worshipping communities know everything there is to know about the flow of the liturgy or the ins and outs of how a hymnal is formatted, so this invitation provides learning for the grown-ups, too!
I prototyped many of the activities with my own kids along the way, and with the kids in my children’s ministry in mind. I’ve already watched so many of them flip through a booklet to find the activity that best suits their current state of mind. I’ve watched the younger ones turn to the same page an older child is working on, so they could work alongside them. I’ve seen confirmation-aged youth do a deeper dive than I ever would’ve imagined into some of the more creative activities.
What a gift the All Creation Sings worship supplement is, just on its own. What a privilege it is, then, to have played even just a small part in making that resource more accessible to the children and youth (and grown-ups!) in our communities. And what a bonus it is to invite them to explore so many broader themes of Christian worship and community as a result.