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Children as Ushers, Greeters, and Helpers in Other Capacities Never Imagined…

 Advocate for Children Being Servants During Worship and Beyond

   As I mentioned in the first blog, I’m an advocate for children being “up front” whenever we gather as a congregation to pray, praise, and give thanks to our Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. This article continues this theme with an emphasis on how you can see and hear children in roles traditionally held by adults before, during, and after a worship service.

   Here’s question #2: How often are children seen ushering, serving as acolytes, greeting members as they enter the church, etc.?

   As I said in blog #1, if your congregation already has children serving vigorously in worship, skip this blog. But, if you think children are sitting quietly in the background, please encourage your church’s leadership to find more ways for children to be active servants.

Plenty of Opportunities to Serve

   Adults need not fear that somehow children will push them aside and take their place as ushers, greeters, and acolytes. There are plenty of ways to serve to go around, but many congregations overlook children when it comes to passing the collection plates, for example. It’s a service that children can do when they’re able to successfully pass a plate without spilling its contents. Children can learn ushering. Adult ushers can:                                                        

1) Take children under their wings and teach them how to bring people to and from their seats, instruct them what to do in case of an emergency (location of defibrillators, fire extinguishers, first aid kits, etc.), call 911, count how many people attend the service, distribute bulletins, and, of course, gather the offering;

2) They can explain the dress code expectations that are appropriate for your situation and be mentors and role models for children.

   Where will our next generation of ushers and other servants come from if we don’t “train up children in the way they should go?” (Proverbs 22:6).

More Service Opportunities

   Likewise, you can encourage young people to volunteer as greeters. Seek out families with children to say hello to both members and guests who enter the church. Provide the same kind of instructions and expectations listed above to children of various ages so they can learn how to be “welcoming people,” not only in church but also in all circumstances of life.

   The same holds true for lighting the candles as an acolyte, helping with the altar guild, setting up banners, vacuuming the narthex, making sure that the bathroom stalls have whatever bathroom stalls need, etc.

A Dozen Ways Children Can Serve

  1. Help set up coffee/doughnuts for coffee hour
  2. Escort people to church from the parking lot (help people with wheel chairs or those who need other assistance
  3. Shovel the snow and put down salt and sand on sidewalks
  4. Provide umbrella service
  5. Serve in the nursery
  6. Be a teacher’s aide in Sunday school
  7. Help serving dinner after funeral services
  8. Supervise and help lead VBS
  9. Distribute welcome pamphlets to the neighborhood
  10.  Serve as coat checkers in the winter
  11.  Check and clean pews (make sure pew racks are well stocked – pencils sharpened)
  12.  Cut grass, weed the church grounds, pick up trash, rake leaves

Now make up your own list of how children might serve in your congregation. Remember, you might have to help them learn how to do things, but that’s our obligation to them so that they may grow in “wisdom, stature, and in favor with God” and everyone (Luke 2:52).

Next time: A Little Drama Goes a Long Way

Dr. Jeffrey E. Burkart, former Associate Dean of the College of Vocation and Ministry and Coordinator of Lutheran Teacher Education, now serves in retirement as Emeritus Professor of Education and Artist in Residence at Concordia University, St. Paul, MN. He is a nationally known teacher, author, speaker, dramatist, poet and musician. Dr. Burkart has over 200 publications including 12 books, numerous professional journal articles, book reviews, chancel dramas, Christian musicals, hymns, poems, CD recordings, films and videos.

Before coming to Concordia, St. Paul, he taught in LC-MS elementary, junior high, and secondary schools in Indiana, Missouri, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. He and his wife, Martha, have three grown sons (Jonathan, David and Andrew) who all are proud graduates of King of Kings Lutheran School and Concordia Academy, Roseville, MN.

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