Young Children and Worship is a program started by the RCA across the country, and began at Neshanic Reformed Church in 2006. It is for children ages 4 - second grade, and takes place during our regular worship time. Children go to the beginning minutes of church, and after the Pastor has his Children's Time, the children are dismissed to attend Children & Worship for the remainder of worship time.
During this time, we transform Brookside Hall into our "Worship Center", a place where Children can come to encounter God. In Children & Worship, we walk slowly and talk softly, because someone might be talking to God, and we don't want to disturb them.
The children sit in a circle, surrounded by Bible stories made just for them, with all materials at their height. Everything in this special place is accessible to the children. This special coming together of the children follows the first order of worship which is the gathering of God's people to hear God’s word.
Next they will hear the word proclaimed through a Bible story told with multi-sensory materials that children with all different learning styles can value and enjoy. As the story is finished the children are invited to enter into a time of wonder about the story. They are asked "wondering questions" to help them dive deeper into the meaning of the story and to listen for God's still voice that is found there. These questions might sound like, "I wonder if the Good Shepherd's sheep have names?" Or, "I wonder what it was like to be in the ark for forty days…I wonder if Noah knew that God was with him?"
Third, just as in our regular worship the children will respond to the Word. In worship we often respond through prayer, song, offering, celebrating the Eucharist, commissioning, and celebrating baptisms. The children have the chance to respond to the Word in a myriad of ways as well. Some of these ways include telling their own story or the story they just heard, using model magic, and drawing pictures. It is amazing how the children respond to the stories, and are able to retell them on their own.
As they leave the worship center, the children will participate in the last order of worship which is the sending out of God's people into the world. Each child will be given a special blessing as they leave to be God's disciples in their homes, schools, and activities.
Children & Worship at Neshanic Reformed Church follows the same schedule as Sunday school. We start our year in the middle of September, and typically end in the middle of June. Children are always welcome to join us any or all Sundays, and adults are always welcome to observe.