My home congregation is ageing, but does that mean that just because at present the youngest are not part of our congregation that we should not prepare as if they are?
It is so frustrating preparing elements of worship that are not going to be fully utilised, so it is easy to see that congregations would just give up, expecting that they could spend their time on something really useful, rather than being prepared for something or someone that doesn’t appear.
But as soon as I think along those lines or hear others proclaim them I immediately hear the story of the bridesmaids in Matthew 25: 1-13, and remind myself to be ready for even the youngest child to have an opportunity to have a faith experience.
Because they will, find their way into our aging congregation. They might be bought by Grandma or Grandpa, they might be visiting friends or family in the area, or they might be new to the area and checking out the local churches.
I have even been involved in congregations that claim they have very little young children, but what they mean is that they don’t have them every week. Yet when things are provided for children and families in worship their regularity has increased, prompting the congregation to wonder “where have all these children come from”
Sometimes it doesn’t take very much, the creation of a families space, near the front of the sanctuary. Some quality Christian story books, or quiet clean and safe toys. Some children’s bibles and work sheets or colouring in sheets on the readings or theme of the day. you might like to try https://www.illustratedchildrensministry.com or https://www.childrensbulletins.com/default.aspx, which can be downloaded and printed on the day, depending on the number of children you have present. Don’t forget to have pencils or texta’s that are sharpened or working.
Allocate an Elder or volunteer who will welcome any family when they arrive, and help them settle in, or understand the service.
You might also look at having a change table in the toilets, and some safe steps or children’s toilet seat. Just in case!