Tuesday, November 24, 2015

How To Really Rock This Christmas Season! by Kaila Pettigrove

Summer is coming…

Imagine lying on the ocean, in a boat or on your back, just letting the waves rock you back and forth…back and forth. From birth, we find rocking a soothing motion – hence the popularity of cradles and rocking chairs (used at each end of our life!). Back and forth, back and forth.

And yet, before we can truly enjoy summer; we must “get through” the Christmas season. Hardly a back and forth –with pageants and prizegivings, candlelight and Christmas Day services – we are racing to go STRAIGHT THROUGH!

BUT WAIT!  Advent is coming…literally. As you know, advent means “coming.” Rather than going STRAIGHT THROUGH, it denotes the beginning of our circular church calendar.

As the Rev. Jerome Berryman explains in his book Young Children and Worship, the Church “tells time by celebrating the events of Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection, and his ascension and the gift of the Holy Spirit.”* The cycles and traditions of Advent and Easter add meaning and accomplishment to our lives. Children especially love ritual and repetition, and so do we! Whether you follow an advent calendar, light candles, or complete a series of acts of kindness; marking the time leading up to Christmas enables us all to build anticipation to the ending of one part of the church year and beginning a new one. We are all “born anew” when we celebrate the coming of Christ and God’s ultimate act of love in our lives.

What ritual will you incorporate into your church and your private life this season? How will we acknowledge our innate sense of rhythm and need for that repetition and cyclical feeling? Take a moment, swing on a swing or rock on a rocking chair. Then make a commitment to your advent ritual.

For more ideas, visit:

Kaila Pettigrove is a Part Time Kids Friendly Coach based in Auckland. Every year, she tries and tries to make space to celebrate Advent with her family.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The people of God in the work of God

I was meeting with one our “Kids Friendly” churches recently to help them review their ministry to and with young people and their families. It’s a church with a real heart for serving its community and one that invests abundantly in children’s ministry.

When our discussion turned to worship, the minister asked me what I had observed. I don’t really like to be the official “critic”, but my 12 years as Kids Friendly coach means I just can’t stop myself reflecting on how children could be better engaged in the time they are in worship with all ages.

As I shared some of my reflections, the minister responded that their church is not very “liturgical” so can’t really embrace the Kids Friendly suggestions for including children in worship.

Of course I disagreed, as every church, no matter its style of worship, can and must include children in worship if we are to help children belong, believe and become disciples of Christ. Christian educators have long recognised that people come to faith primarily by engaging in the practices of faith. And worship is one of our key practices of faith.

Pastor Alison Sampson in her article “Welcome Children” suggests we need to interrogate our worship (specifically the time children are “in”) to identify what more we can do to engage children. And she reminds us that when children are engaged, invariably adults are too! “It’s not about “dumbing things down,” she says, “but rather finding ways to add movement and symbolic actions that are interesting to all ages.”

In his blog “The sermon for children”, Pastor Randy Engle suggests “There are a host of ways to involve children in worship that are only limited to the creativity and boldness of worship planners.”

This minister and I had a good chat about our faith practices and ideas for involving children in them. I challenged the absence of children in communion the day I participated and discovered children are not invited to participate in communion at this church, not because of any theological objections, but just because they never have….

Hopefully these Kids Friendly conversations will continue, that’s if they invite me back!

The comment about their church not being “liturgical” really got me pondering, so when I got back to the office I followed my teenage son’s solution to all life’s quandaries and “googled” it. And this is what Mr Google had to say: “In the Christian tradition liturgy means the participation of the people of God in the work of God.”

Let’s invite all God’s people to participate in the work of God!