WorshipArts began in concept in 2006 because we wanted our children to have some kind of church choir experience. Singing, especially four-part a cappella hymn singing, is part of our Mennonite denominational heritage. However, like many urban churches, it was hard to plan rehearsals outside Sunday mornings due to busy schedules and long commutes to and from home. These logistical constraints due to being geographically dispersed led to some creative thinking and planning.
We, as a church, realized that what we really desired was a program that honored children’s voices in worship, whether through music, art, writing, or drama.
Plus, we wanted a program that was more about participation than performance and more about process than product. In sum, our current co-leaders set out to create a WorshipArts program that would cultivate children’s imagination, help them engage with Scripture, nurture their God-given voice and talents, and do so in the context of a loving, creative community.
How it works:
Kindergarten-5th grade children head to the WorshipArts room during the closing hymn. There they spend time before Sunday school with committed adult volunteers getting a “close up” look at the movements, songs, language, rituals, sacraments, and art of worship. Sometimes they talk about aspects of the morning’s worship, sometimes they sing, play instruments, draw, build sculptures, read books, create bulletin covers, write litanies, or participate in a skit.
What we hope:
We treat our WorshipArts program like a training program for our young congregants to become more fully awake and in tune with worship, as well as the community gathered around them. In other words, we don’t want our young congregants to see worship as something that adults do passively. Rather, we want them to feel like they have an important place in God’s house, and that they can use their minds, imagination, and bodies to come to know God. What we long for is that our children will see themselves as worship leaders in their own way.