Children's Worship Response art in the Czech Republic

Our team of six women from Glen Ellyn Evangelical Covenant Church used their skill sets and gifts from years of experience in worship and children's ministry to bring a knowledge of worship to children from many cultures and countries, languages, special needs and learning styles.  We were invited to the Josiah Venture Mission Spring Conference in Malenovice, Czech Republic, to teach 50 children from the ages of 6-14 years about worship.  It was a fluid environment that you would find at a yearly conference setting, and the children were exposed to something quite different than their previous conference times together.  They were challenged in what their concept of worship was in their minds by training their brains to focus on God and work at keeping the distractions away so that they could learn to listen to God and hear His voice.  With practice, they would begin to recognize His voice from all of the other noises that they regularly hear.

They were introduced to God's teaching of quiet and slow and of noticing Him in the world around them.  They were encouraged to slow down enough to notice the "butterflies" that God sends their way just to make them smile.  In the world of fast, loud and chaos, we often race past the many blessings God showers upon us minute by minute.  We live in a world that encourages the loud child and ignores the quiet one.  In this time and space, all were on equal footing and everyone was noticed and appreciated.

We wrote our lessons and sacred story from John 10 and Psalm 23, the lessons of the Good Shepherd and the nine names of God found in Psalm 23.  Our model of small group worship time is found in Sonja Stewart's Young Children and Worship.  Her research over many years teaches the importance of telling the story in a way to help put the hearer into the story and to wonder about the things God is saying to them.

Their individual response art was amazing.  They were asked to listen to what God wanted them to draw and what He wanted to teach them using colors and pictures.  When they were willing to share, their insights of God, who He is, and what He wanted to show them were profound.  They were exposed to multiple mediums, taking into account the five senses, watercolor, pastels, colored pencil, clay and crafts.

They also experienced being a part of something much bigger than themselves by participating in community art with others as they joined their individual pieces of art to a "stained glass" window and jointly created the top of the window for each of the nine names of God that they were reflecting on.  They joined together to make a banner of The Good Shepherd in which everyone was represented as a sheep that is known by name.  They took part in two dramatic readings of Psalm 23 and John 10 bring life to the scriptures as well as musical choruses of the Psalm 23.  All of the teaching of the four movements of worship...GATHERING, WORD, TABLE [RESPONSE], SENDING culminated in a children-led worship service attended by 300 parents and siblings.  They worked on their leadership skills as they led the service through the four movements with music and dramatic readings.  The older children 11-14 years, were singled out as "Shepherds" where they led by servanthood of the younger children and learning how to teach the sacred story.

For more information and the people and theology that shaped this workshop visit the bibliography below.  For more information on any of the above, our team can be reached at  A more comprehensive bibliography can be given upon request.

Brown, Carolyn C., Forbid Them Not, Involving Children in Sunday Worship, Abingdon Press, 1993
Castleman, Robbie, Parenting in the Pew, IVP Books, 1993
Chapman, Kathleen, Teaching Kids Authentic Worship, Baker Books, 2003
May, Scottie, Posterski, Beth, Stonehouse, Catherine, and Cannell, Linda, Children Matter, Celebrating Their Place in the Church Family and Community, Grand Rapids:  Eerdmans,2005.
Sandell, Elizabeth J., Including Children in Worship, Augsburg Fortress, 1991.
Stewart, Sonja M., and Berryman, Jerome W., Young Children and Worship, Louisville:Westminster John Know, 1989
Stewart, Sonja M., Following Jesus-More About Young children and Worship, Geneva Press, 2000.
Stilwell, Lisa, The Heavens Proclaim His Glory, View of Creation Through the Lens of the Hubble Telescope, Thomas Nelson, 2010
Stonehouse, Catherine, Joining Children on the Spiritual Journey: Nurturing a Life of Faith, grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1998
Stonehouse, Catherine, May, Scottie, Listening to Children on the Spiritual Journey, Baker Academic, 2010

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