up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not
depart from it."
Proverbs 22:6 (NAS)
Children's Hour is a program designed to teach
children from ages 3 through 6 the elements of worship. Structured
differently from the adult worship, this time period is set aside by our
elders during worship period in the auditorium. This program is designed
so that our children will learn what worship is, how to worship and what
is expected of them in worship. The training that children receive is
patterned after the instruction given in the New Testament. The
scripture depicting a parent to train up a child when they are young in
the ways of the Lord is the standard for this development program. This
program is not a program designed to provide babysitting during worship
services but rather a training program for the child.
Each child is encouraged to participate in all activities at his or her
own pace. We believe the appropriate age is about three years old
because we desire for the child to be potty trained and have the ability
to sit during class. Although seldom still, the child is encouraged to
remain seated throughout the hour. Activities are designed for them to
participate, which include motion and movement. Some children feel the
need to have a parent or guardian accompany them at first or until they
are ready to stay on their own.
We value your child's comfort. The child being with us and attentive is
important because without it they will not learn. How quickly this
occurs depends on the socialization process the child has already
experienced. If the child has experienced being around people, other
than the parent, the transition is much easier. Much of the success of
the child being able to remain in Children's Hour is a result of the
parent's preparation before they attend. We encourage any parent
preparing their child for Children's Hour to discuss with us some ways
to achieve success. Talk with the child about what they can expect, what
you are going to do when you are away from them, where you will be
and ~ most importantly ~ when you will return.
The agenda for the program is similar to adult worship. The program
incorporates the elements of singing, praying, observance of communion,
and a Bible lesson. Singing is very similar to adult worship with a
variety of children's spiritual songs being sung. Each child is
encouraged to bring an offering and place it in the contribution plate.
Communion is observed to demonstrate to the children the primary reason
why Christians gather each and every Sunday.
Children are welcomed to Children's Hour. Each one is encouraged to
select a chair. Any previous Bible study lesson papers, belongings or
books, are deposited in a cubicle or cubby hole. The leaders greet as
many children as possible helping them to feel welcome for the next hour
of the program. Often the children will welcome each other and talk
among themselves. This social activity is important to all. We want to
learn about the children and get to know them. It is important to us
that we build this repertoire and confidence. It is our joy to share our
love with them. We also want to share God's love and His word each week.
Before we begin the training, all children are requested to become part
of a line. The girls have their line and the boys have theirs. One child
becomes the line leader. Other children become the line. And one child
become the end of the line, or sometimes called the caboose. Each is
encouraged to use the bathroom, if needed. This little ritual encourages
the children to prepare for worship. The children are encouraged to
leave and return in a peaceful manner. Upon return, each is requested to
find a seat and get ready for the worship period.
Children's songbooks are passed out and each child is encouraged to
turn their pages to the selected song. Since most of the children cannot
read, pictures and numbers are used to guide them. Helpers are also
standing by to assist them in finding the correct page. We stress the
importance of everyone turning to the song and discuss some of its
meaning before we sing. When everyone has found the song, a leader
begins singing and the children join in. The songs, often new at first,
are easily learned because of the repetition used each week in the song
service. No child is forced to sing, and we have learned that often
those hesitant to sing just don't know what to expect. We discuss the
aspect of singing and making melody in our heart. Our voices are
sometimes beautiful and sometimes not. But we try to impress to the
children that singing with and from the heart, not the voice, is
We often teach the children how to pray, demonstrating how to bow
their heads or hold their hands. We talk about reverence and our
conversation with God. The prayer is lead in a somewhat different style.
The children are encouraged to participate by repeating the stanzas of
the prayer being led. Often the children are encouraged to contribute
names of those they are concerned about, and want included in the
prayer, before the prayer is lead. The prayer leader will say a portion
and the children will repeat it aloud.
Communion, the observance of the Lord's Supper, is included in the
Children's Hour program. This, after all, is the central reason for our
gathering together on each first day of the week. Small lessons about
communion are presented and the children are encouraged to watch and
observe as the Christians partake of the bread and then the juice, or
fruit of the vine. The children do learn what this part of worship is
for and what it represents. Some discussion is given to who can partake
and why they do it.
Monies are located and gathered from pants pockets, jacket pockets,
pocket books or purses. Often it is only pennies, nickels, dimes and
quarters but sometimes it is dollars. Each child is asked if they have a
coin or money to place in the offering. If they indicate, NO, the
leaders will share some of their money with the children. Discussion
about the offering always takes place. The reason for collecting money
is discussed and what the elders plan to do with it is shared.
A lesson from the scriptures is presented in a manner to teach
children at their learning level. An extensive lesson plan of Old and
New Testament stories was developed for this program since 1983. There
are 300 references from the Old Testament and 200 references used from
the New Testament. The aggregate lesson plan will take a child
completely through the Bible, if they are present from the age of 3
through graduation at entry into first grade. Each lesson has a coloring
sheet. The lessons come from the Bible directly. Most stories are told
in dramatic fashion, sometimes with children participating in various
parts of the story. Crayons are passed out and the children are guided
in busy activities and discussion of the lesson. Question are asked to
draw out facts about the day's lesson.
At the end of the hour the children are encouraged to tidy the room
by picking up and putting away. Crayons are collected and chairs are
stacked up. Important papers are gathered and trash is thrown away. Any
coats brought in and hung up on our coat hooks are found and put on.
Sometimes the parents arrive before we are ready for them, and sometimes
we are ready before the parents. In those cases, we sit in a circle and
a behavioral story (by Joy Wilt Berry) is read until someone arrives to
pick up the children. Good-byes are said and parents are encouraged to
find out what the child has learned during Children's Hour. Often
parents will discuss the morning's event on the way home, while some
wait until the noon meal to find out what lesson was learned. In any
case, it is important that the parent do some sort of follow up to build
on the experiences the child has encountered.