‘Play Church’ + Sensory Space = Worship & Wonder

Thanks to Cindy Merten at Children’s Ministry network and Hope Hutchison at Richfield United Methodist Church for sharing these two worship-space related Great Ideas!

Cindy Merten cites the CRC article Grant Makes Way for Sacred Play as inspiration for creating a similar space for children in her congregation (including her grandchildren). She found all of the necessary safe, unbreakable elements around her church building, developed the space across the hall from their sanctuary, and kids not lead ‘play’ worship in the space during worship.

Read Merten’s Setting Up a ‘Play Church’ to Create Worship Wonder article here.

Andrea Roske-Metcalf challenges ableist attitudes as she encourages us to reconsider perceptions of young peoples’ worship participation and invites us to consider at what age (and/or ability) our young ones (or anyone) become worship leaders – in ‘regular’ worship, and in their own right – in The Balancing Act of a Wider Welcome. She also encourages us to delight in the gift that is children who feel comfortable being themselves in our worshiping communities – ‘if only we make the space’.

What might happen if the ‘play worship’ space inspired developing worship patterns that engage and inspire people of all ages? Could playing at worship leadership create pathways to full participation in more multigenerational engaging ‘regular’ worship? As children are observed leading worship – as musicians, preachers, readers, servers, etc., in the play space – how might this inspire new approaches to worship? If children show particular interest in leading the play version of worship, might this prepare them – at an early age – to lead in ‘regular’ worship?

For young people with special sensory needs, Hope Hutchison has prepared a multi-sensory space at the back of Richfield United Methodist’s sanctuary. She provides different forms of seating, with rocking chairs interspersed with regular stackable seats; pews will be added soon. A large whiteboard allows children an opportunity to share what they are feeling with emoji faces. A station of brightly colored bins provides fidgets (non-noise-creating), non-breakable and quiet building pieces, coloring/drawing utensils, and other tactile, interactive articles.

If you’ve got ideas for ways to engage and inspire young peoples’ participation in worship, let us know by sharing your Great Idea here!