We just launched The Ministry of Acolytes 2: How We Worship For Individuals and For Groups
Anyone who works with children routinely, knows that most of them love mastering skills and information. They are proud of becoming proficient; they want to show that they too have something to contribute to their families, classrooms, and communities. At church, children generally take on the roles of sheep rather than shepherds. They are told what to do and where to sit and how to behave in church. It’s only natural — we are teaching them who Jesus is and what church is all about. But if we want to teach children to be active participants in Christian worship, it’s important to treat them as people who have something to contribute — not as people who will have something to contribute ten years from now, but as people whose energy and vitality are important in building our congregations today.
Active Christians participate in the ministries of their congregations, so if we want children to participate in worship, we should, as part of ministering to them, show them how to contribute and then to let them do so. Training children to serve as acolytes is one important way in which churches create space for children to contribute to worship.
Serving as acolytes gives children the opportunity to “master” the liturgy. They learn what to expect from the liturgy; why we do what we do at various points in the service; the tools we use; the space in which we worship. Mastering the liturgy allows them to do what they often want to do: contribute, as leaders, in a genuine way to their communities. Acolytes are important to the Episcopal liturgy. They set a tone of reverence, and they help worship proceed smoothly. Their role is a genuine contribution and an opportunity to lead.
Letting children give their service to the church is one of the most profound ways in which the church can minister to them, and this course teaches adults how to minister to children in this way.
The instructor for this course, Sharon Ely Pearson, is an editor at Church Publishing, Inc., an author and a Christian formation specialist who, along with Roger Speer, has written a book about training acolytes called I Serve at God’s Altar: The Ministry of Acolytes (2018), discusses the leadership role that acolytes take and how adults can mentor them in taking on this role. She offers suggestions for teaching children to understand the liturgy in terms of its structure, its space, its tools and activities. She discusses preparing children mentally and physically to serve, and she offers practical suggestions for training them in what they need to know in order to serve effectively as acolytes.
This is the second class in our Ministry of Acolytes series. The other courses in this series will be forthcoming through the summer of 2019. Participants who complete all five courses can earn a ChurchNext certificate in Acolyte Leadership.
This course is useful for anyone interested in serving in children’s ministries. If you’re interested in learning more about this class, view a preview here.