We spend much of our lives isolated and segregated from people who are either older or younger than ourselves. Therefore our desire is to create a place where people of all ages are invited to share in the full life of the Open Door. This includes infants, toddlers, and adolescents. Children are a blessing to our community and we desire them to be full participants in our worship of God. We believe that old and young have a great deal to teach and offer one another.
1) To help our church’s families support their children in their faith journey through: a) Biblically-based, multi-sensory education, and b) investment and care in their whole life experiences.
2) To support children in the neighborhoods around us through care and involvement in their lives, seizing opportunities to minister to their spiritual growth.
We provide the following options and ministries for children and families
A welcoming space: Children are very welcomed to stay in the Great Hall with their caregivers throughout the entire service. Caregivers are encouraged to lead their children, starting at the earliest stages, through a reverent flow of song, prayer, teaching time, and communion. Church leaders and communicators are encouraged to remember the children throughout the flow of the service. Young children may use the Toddler Area, which is set up in the back of the Great Hall, when they are unable to participate in worship any longer.
Helping Hands/Baby Holders: Many people at The Open Door are willing and able to help you with your child/ren if you need to step away, lead a part of worship, or attend to another child. Please ask those around you for help when you need it. This creates an atmosphere of servanthood and intergenerational relationships that extend beyond the nuclear family.
Children are dismissed to their teaching time right before the sermon, during the passing of the peace. The younger class and older class first meet together in the atrium for a combined time of singing and reciting the Lord’s Prayer, then they divide for their separate times of teaching. During the summer months (June, July & August) our nursery is closed and we have one combined class for all children.
Nursery (under 2s) Our nursery volunteers are able to provide care and spiritual guidance to even the youngest of children during the sermon (children will be formally released to this time). Many parents choose to hold their infants or let them play in the Toddler Area until they are able to sit-up on their own or crawl, but this is up to the discretion of the caregivers.
Circle Time (2-3 yrs old) After the combined singing time, the younger class stays in the atrium for a simple Bible lesson, activity and snack. The curriculum, ‘God Loves Me’ (Faith Alive Christian Resources),consists of 52 storybooks that explore main stories of the Old and New Testaments in a chronological order, provide captivating images and continual affirmations of how much God loves his children, our children.
Sunday School (4-8 yrs old) The older class moves to the Board room after the combined singing time for their Bible lesson, activity and snack. Their lessons are scripture based, working through the ‘Children’s Bible in 365 Stories’ (David C. Cook Publishing) chronologically.
Mentoring (9-18 yrs) Children who have ‘aged out’ of Sunday School are asked to stay in the service during the sermon. They also have the opportunity to be involved in a mentoring program that pairs them with an adult mentor of their family’s choice. The mentor commits to meeting with them outside of church on a monthly basis, connecting with them on Sundays, helping them explore various ministries of the church and aiding them in a year-long catechetical program.
The Open Door leaves to families the decision about whether their child/ren are ready to partake in communion. We have both baptized and dedicated children at the Open Door and do not have any formal first communion procedures. The Open Door leadership is available to meet with you to discuss this, if you have questions. If your child is not ready for communion, s/he may still come forward with you. Simply ask the servers to bless your child/ren rather than administering communion.
Tips for Training Children in Worship
For the Congregation
Remember children during social times and passing the peace. Most children feel good when you greet them by name.
Model for the children reverence and a spirit of worship.
Offer to help parents who appear to need a hand before, during, or after the service
Tell your child(ren) that worship is a gift we bring to God. Explain that we practice worship at home and with our bigger Christian community. We “go to worship” more than “go to church.”
Whisper explanations of what is happening throughout the service if necessary (i.e. “We are going to pray now, so fold your hands like this and close your eyes.” Or, “This is a time when the community will share what has happened this week. Let’s see if we can listen to their stories.”)
Bring notebooks and pencils, finger puppets, popsicle-stick puppets, or putty to give the children something to do with their hands while they are sitting in chairs during the service.
Older children can draw pictures of or write thoughts about the message they are hearing.
At home, you might explain to your children: baptism, communion, special religious seasons and holidays, tithe, and the significance of the community gathering to worship.
Please also explain the weekly rhythms of The Open Door to your child(ren).
Discuss the message at home with your children.
When you and your child have discussed communion, and made the decision to participate, encourage your child to join you. If your child is not yet receiving communion, s/he can come forward for a blessing from the elder.
For Worship Leaders
Use simple vocabulary and a good number of simple sentences in your teaching.
Apply yourself to finding the simplicity in the profound Word of God, and communicate that simplicity during the service.
Create a multi-sensory experience when possible.
Repeat important messages or verses several times throughout the sermon.
Repeat songs throughout the weeks, so that children can begin to learn them.