INVOLVING CHILDREN IN ALL OF PARISH LIFE
We Welcome Children in Church
It is through Holy Baptism that infants are fully incorporated into the family of God. And so, at Mount Olive we include children in all that we do as a congregation—especially in worship. We not only tolerate kids in church, we welcome and encourage them.
You will see babies and toddlers in the pews, and you will see and hear the occasional commotion that is so much a part of young families’ lives. But the voices and actions of children are among the human expressions and experiences that make up authentic Christian worship. Kids are as much a part of the body of Christ at 31st and Chicago as anyone else.
Indeed, we invite families with young children to sit up front, so that kids can feel a closer connection to the service. If children get noisy or restless, we urge parents to take them out for a time knowing that we want them back as soon as things calm down a bit. We do not have a staffed nursery in the usual sense, but help and care can be arranged by talking to one of the greeters. The main point is that children are welcome in church and their presence is meaningful to the whole congregation.
First Communion instruction is available whenever parents believe a child is ready for the sacrament. Confirmation classes begin in sixth grade. Children also choose to serve alongside teens and adults as acolytes, greeters, lectors, altar guild helpers and servers at our free community meals.
Have questions or comments about children in church? Let us know.
Church school is at 9:30 a.m. on Sundays during the school year and is aimed at children pre-K through fourth grade. Mount Olive uses the Godly Play approach to Christian nurture, a creative and imaginative model that prepares children to join in the worship and life of their congregation. The model is based on the idea that children already have an innate awareness of God. All they lack is the language they need to identify and express it, so they can explore and strengthen their sense of God’s presence.
This Montessori-based approach teaches children that language by mimicking the shape of the liturgy. Following the rhythms of the church year, children are invited to reflect on stories from the Bible, to respond using a variety of art supplies, and to share in a simple feast, before they are sent forth with a blessing.
Several times a year, children also also guided by Mount Olives cantor, David Cherwien, to prepare music for worship on a particular Sunday.
If you have questions about Sunday Church School, contact us.
The following article is courtesy of Godly Play.
What Is Godly Play?
Godly Play teaches children the art of using Christian language—parable, sacred story, silence and liturgical action—helping them become more fully aware of the mystery of God’s presence in their lives.
When Christian language is learned by the Godly Play approach, it is learned as a means to know God and to make meaning of our lives. This approach is quite different from the traditional model in which the teacher tells the children what they need to know. Godly Play is not about things that are that simple. It is not just about learning lessons or keeping children entertained. It is about locating each lesson in the whole system of Christian language and involving the creative process to discover the depths of meaning in them. It’s about understanding how each of the stories of God’s people connects with the child’s own experience and relationship with God. Godly Play respects the innate spirituality of children and encourages curiosity and imagination in experiencing the mystery and joy of God.
The goal of Godly Play is to show how to be open to the Holy Spirit, The Creator, and the Redeemer all at once and all the time in every place. To achieve this goal is to help children become deeply rooted as Christians and yet at the same time use this powerful language and community to be open and creative.
Godly Play is a creative and imaginative approach to Christian nurture.
Godly Play is based on long established, tried and tested approaches.
Godly Play encourages participants to make meaning for themselves by inviting them into stories and providing the opportunity for them to connect the stories with their personal experience.
Godly Play is a non-coercive way to encourage people to move into larger dimensions of belief and faith through wondering questions and open-ended response time.
Godly Play values process, openness and discovery.
Godly Play is a way of preparing children to join in the worship and life of their congregations as they develop a deeper understanding of stories, symbols and rites.
Although it was originally developed as a resource for children, Godly Play is now being used with a wide range of age groups in a diversity of settings.
© 2011 Godly Play Foundation
HOLY BAPTISM, FIRST COMMUNION AND CONFIRMATION
Get more information about Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation.
MOUNT OLIVE YOUTH
The parish’s young people are actively involved in the life of Mount Olive. During the education hour on Sundays (beginning at 9:30 a.m.), middle-school youth participate in Faith Lens, a blog-based weekly Bible study. Each week the study links a current news story in the world and the scripture texts from the Common Lectionary. The purpose is to help youth explore and better understand every moment of life in the context of our faith and God's Word. Conversation is always lively, and the connection with the lectionary helps students and leaders prepare for worship, because they’re already thinking about the day’s lessons.
High school-age youth also meet regularly during the school year, participating in fundraisers, serving at church and community gatherings, and talking together about the challenges they face in school, with their families and in their faith life. In recent years, the group has traveled together for camping, canoeing and hiking. They’ve visited youth groups from other churches. And they’ve attended biennial national Lutheran youth gatherings around the country. All are welcome!