Preparing for the Fall Kick-off season just wasn’t the same this year. So much is in the air; particularly, when it comes to whether we are meeting in person or not. I knew that because my congregation was not meeting for in-person worship together during these fall months, I still needed to find a way for our kids to see each other, me, the church, and feel connected to an important tradition in their lives. With all of the ups and downs and changes going on in our youngsters’ lives, I knew Children’s Church could not fall by the wayside.
Children’s Church provides our kids with stability, consistency, and ritual. All of which are especially important in a time where everything seems to be changing. One of our kids’ favorite rituals is preparing the altar at the beginning of Children’s Church. But how could they do that if we were not meeting in person? My solution was to provide Children’s Church through zoom every Sunday at 9:30 am. I lead from the youth room, where we usually have children’s church, and each household has their own altars to prepare for worship a home. What’s the worst that can happen? They play church at home with their dolls and action figures?
So far, the kids are loving it. It is a self-led worship experience for our kids. We follow a consistent outline every Sunday, only taking about 30 minutes. Its simplicity allows plenty of time for the kids to elaborate, wonder, create, and share together. The basic outline looks like this:
- Welcome and check in
- Altar set up and share
- Light the candle and begin
- Theme/story teaser
- Reflection and response time
- Closing prayer
Any amount of discouragement I may feel because things feel “different” and we can’t all be in the same room is washed away when I get to spend time with our Children’s Church kids. They are always happy to be connected, no matter what tools we need to make it happen. Because I do not need to rush off to another service or to help during the service, I can even spend more time with them if they want to keep working on their artwork or just hang out together longer.
If you would like to create your own altar box for kids to take home, check out my list below. If you have a woodworker at church, I highly recommend connecting them to this project. They can either create the altar boxes, the prayer cross, or the communion set. I also recommend talking with your quilters/sewers about creating the altar cloth.
- Candy Treat Boxes, sized medium: These are a nice sturdy weight, big enough to hold everything inside or if acting like an altar with everything on top.
- Altar Cloth: You can use a simple napkin, but we ended up using extra baptismal cloths. This take home altar might be a nice gift for any baptisms you have coming up too.
- Liturgical Colors: I have simple, unhemmed strips of cloth in liturgical colors that I just cut up with scissors. Ribbons would also work well for this, or you could invite your sewers to make something special.
- Electric Tea Light: This gives the kids ultimate, and safe, control over the use of light in worship. They love it.
- Wood Cross: Choose a size that will fit easily in the palm of a child’s hand, but is not too small so that they put it in their mouth and not too big that it can’t fit in the altar box.
- Communion Set: I created a communion set from some items I found in the wood craft aisle in the craft store. The “plate” is a checkers piece and the “chalice” is a small wood spool glued to a vase.
I hope to add a baptismal bowl and/or offering plate at some point. It would be fun to add a tiny bible, if I can find one. Here is the letter [pdf] I sent along with the altar boxes to the parents. You may want to check it out for more details on how I presented it to our families.
I hope this post inspires you to think creatively about how you can encourage church at home for all ages of your congregation. I’d love to hear your ideas as well. Feel free to share them in the comments!