The Children's Service never lasts more than 30 minutes. It is
usually very noisy indeed. The first 10 minutes are formal and familiar - a
mini-Mattins. The reading, however, is from the Lion Children's Bible. Parents
and children follow the story from one of the 100 pew Bibles. Instead of a talk,
the story is then acted out. There is a great emphasis on dressing up and
unrehearsed audience participation. The service has its own "Wardrobe Mistress" and music features hymns old and new from our own Chelsea Old Church Children's Hymnbook.
Children's Service is targeted at young children (of 5-8) but babies and older
children are more than welcome. The first priority is for children to enjoy
themselves. (One American mother recently complained that "Billy keeps bugging
me to go to Church".) The second priority is to familiarise children with the
major stories and themes of the Old and New Testaments - to repair the biblical
ozone layer; to correct widespread biblical illiteracy. There is no attempt to
moralise or to draw out spiritual implications.
A-story-is-a-story-is-a-story-is-a-story. Children leave the church on Sunday
mornings having enjoyed the story of Noah and the Rainbow, Samson and Delilah,
David and Goliath, Jesus teaching the disciples to fish for men and so forth.
Sometimes they bring their pets and plants. Once a year we have two donkeys. We
resist the temptation to aim at several targets. The service is for 5-8 year old
children who do not work well with abstracts or concepts. They react best to
good role models in good stories.
In our short service the
- Follow the story in the
simplified and illustrated pew Bible
- Hear some straightforward
word-echoes (eg. to the Good Shepherd) in the hymns and songs.
- Go over the story again in
the play which is completely unrehearsed and relies on questions and prizes and
volunteers ("Who wants to be Jesus?").
Tapestry designed by Joyce Conwyn Evans Des. RCA FCSD