Willow Creek Church Children's Worship Philosophy
It is very common for human beings to follow along with what many have done previously. To not necessarily put much thought into the "why" they choose to take on a particular task. In the case of nursery, pre-school, and children's worship at Willow Creek Church, this is NOT the case.
Our goal as a church, is to see children hear the good news of what Jesus accomplished for them, believe that good news in their hearts, and commit themselves to be life-long worshipers of Jesus.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is one of the principal scriptures that speaks to the importance of teaching our faith to the next generation. This text is written to the whole of the community, and in this, the whole community (from the youngest to the oldest) are given the same reminders... The Lord is God, He is one. Love God with all your heart, soul, and might. Keep these commandments on your heart. Teach them diligently to your children. Talk about the commandments of the Lord in the house, when you walk amongst the community, when you lie down, and when you rise. Memorize (or bind) them as a sign on your hand. Write them down on your doorposts.
All of these words indicate that raising children to be worshipers of God is accomplished in a variety of fashions. We see children being raised as worshipers through 1. Parents 2. Public teaching 3. Public participation 4. Through memorization and work.
At Willow Creek Church, our philosophy is for our youngest attenders (nursery and pre-school age) to learn the "basic" or "core" Biblical stories that point children to Jesus. Story time, crafts, songs, prayer, various elements that are age-appropriate and help children learn how to sit, engage, and discover the basic tenants of our faith.
For elementary-age children, the "bar" is raised, in that we desire these children to visibly witness their parents/grandparents/church family members in worship. We want them to learn that worship is for life, and that they aren't merely whisked away because they are an annoyance or need to be entertained. So then, children pray corporately, confess their sin, hear the assurance of pardon, and sing songs of praise to God. Then, prior to the sermon, they go and enjoy a special teaching time with caring children's ministry team members.
By middle school, our hope is that students will begin to further engage in critical thought, they'll take notes, ask questions, discuss with their parents what the overall theme of the worship service is for that Sunday, and be able to sit the entire 75 minutes of service.
We don't do all of these things perfectly, but we do them intentionally. Thank you for your love, care, and support for our children's ministries. God bless you!