Worship Apprenticeship Program

Worship, in many ways, is like a family meal. Individuals in a family can, and sometimes do, eat separately. However, there is deep enjoyment in sharing a meal with loved ones. Likewise, we sometimes worship independently and spontaneously, enjoying moments of beauty, peace, and joy as they occur. But if we never worshiped together as a church family, then we would miss an important element—the love present among the members of God’s family.

The Church is not so much a place as a People, and young and old, we are called by God to be children of God. Young and old, we are called to gather with the community of believers in Jesus Christ, to listen to God, and to seek and serve God. Young and old, we offer our gifts to God and seek to leave our places of worship renewed in our faith and strengthened to serve the world.

According to theologian and educator, Marva Dawn, “in the midst of an ambiguous, sometimes chaotic, never settled, ungrounded society,” the gathered community of the Church at worship is a place where children and youth can find “roots”— a place to belong. As this past spring’s study of
the book Growing Young attests, young people have three ultimate questions: “Who am I?”, “Where do I fit?”, and “What difference do I make?” By helping them see “the beauty and truth, the meaning and purpose of what we do in worship” and providing them with the opportunity to “become more involved” in corporate worship, we can help answer these questions.

Beginning in October the youth and older elementary children at Hope Valley will have the opportunity to take part in a new discipleship program: Worship Apprenticeship. Designed to help our young people both learn about and practice the many different jobs/roles that contribute to our corporate worship experience, the primary purpose of the program is to not only help our youth and children feel “more at home in the Church,” but also help them to see Church as a place where their presence and their contributions are valued. Please join me in praying for and encouraging these younger members of our church family as they develop and share their gifts and talents in worship leadership.

Amy Herring

Worship Apprenticeship Program

Last year our children in 1st – 5th grade had the opportunity to take part in  Children Worship! — a discipleship program designed to help them learn more about congregational worship. At the end of this study, these students were invited to reflect on the many ways they could continue to learn about worship by participating in worship leadership and by assisting in other necessary roles (greeters, sound team, etc.) that help us worship as a community.

Growing out of these discussions, the idea of a worship apprenticeship was born, and this fall we will begin taking the steps to implement it. On September 23, all elementary children (grades 2-5) as well as all youth (grades 6-12) who are interested in participating in the Worship Apprenticeship Program, which will include “shadowing” and assisting our worship leaders and volunteers, are invited to attend an introductory class during the Sunday morning service.

Children Worship! Sent into the World

As a people of God gathered together for worship, we respond to God’s love, ask for God’s guidance, and look to God for strength and help as we pray. We hear God’s Word through the Scripture, through readings, and through the sermon. We respond to God’s Word, and we are sent into the world to love and serve God and our neighbors.

Sometimes when we reach the sending part of worship, our minds are mentally saying, “Church is over,” and we become so busy getting ready to leave that we fail to truly experience the final aspect of worship: God sending us into the world.

Read Matthew 28:18-20. Jesus’ words are not just for his disciples in the Bible; they are for us today. The community of believers (the church) strengthens our witness to the world. As individuals, we certainly need to live a life that reflects all that God calls us to be. But when linked with other believers, our gifts extend to touch more than we could imagine. Think about the gifts and talents God gives us — including our time, abilities, human relationships, perspectives, and faith. These gifts are ours to use wisely. We do not simply leave a worship service. We are sent into the world to witness to God’s love and to use these gifts in ways that reflect our belief in God’s care as we serve others.

Some important dates related to our Children Worship! Study:

  • May 13: Mother’s Day. NO Children Worship! class scheduled.*
  • May 20: Children Worship! class resumes.

*Children may complete a Worship Bag “assignment” to turn in to Mrs. Amy for a special “treat”!

Children Worship! : The Language and Posture of Prayer

In our Children Worship! study, we are learning how worship serves as a conversation by provid-ing a time for us to talk with, listen to, and respond to God. Most recently, we have been studying how the different prayers used in worship contribute to and guide us in this ongoing dialogue. The time spent in prayer during worship is, however, actually more than our recitation of a written prayer or our pause to listen to the prayers offered by our pastor or others on behalf of the congregation. In fact, if we were to look closely at our order of worship, we would find that there are often other “times of prayer.” For example, when the people of God praise and thank God through music or responsive reading, these are voiced or sung prayers. Likewise, times of confession as well as opportunities to reflect on and petition God for personal needs or intercede (by spoken prayer or loving action) for the needs of others can also be times of prayer.

For children to grow in their ability to participate in worship, though, they need to recognize the language of prayer and its many postures. Words used in and about prayer, such as praise, thanksgiving, intercession, confession, forgiveness, lament, and amen (which means “so be it”), are important for children to know and understand. Taking the time to help the children we know learn this language of prayer helps children feel more comfortable in using and hearing the words, and, in turn, helps provide them with a sense of belonging.

Remember, too, that when we pray we also have the opportunity to use postures of prayer to show our relationship with God. Often, we bow our heads to show honor and reverence. Sometimes, people lift their head or hands to show their awe and wonder or they kneel to show obedience. Some pray with their eyes closed to focus solely on God while others pray with their eyes open to notice God’s wonderful world and the people who need God’s love and care. How many postures of prayer do you use during the worship service or during your own times of personal and private prayer? Encourage children to pray in ways that show their relationship with God.