Are you practicing any rituals with the children at your church these days? Rituals are repetitive actions that are done with purpose. They are a tool for exploring connection, faith, and celebration.
As a child, I remember the volunteer teachers at church gathering all of us children together at the end of the Sunday school hour to sing our good-bye song, a prayer that God would care for us and all children everywhere. This ritual connected the children at my little country church with children around the globe, all of us trusting that God’s loving care would be with us as we headed out into a new week.
Classroom rituals are best when they are creative and engage a child’s senses, such as gathering around water, playing a drum, lighting a candle, turning on a fan as a reminder of the movement of the Holy Spirit. These rituals create memories, add structure, and are a reminder that we are in this together.
Try this Care Prayer jar ritual inviting children to write or draw pictures for all in need of God’s care. A child taps a singing bowl to signal that it is time to gather for prayer. Children write names or draw pictures of those in need and place their prayers in the jar. Everyone lays their hands on the jar and sings a song that signals an end to the ritual.
Journaling rituals help children to honestly share their thoughts and feelings with a God who listens. Begin with arms outstretched and recite Psalm 139:1 together: “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.” As a recording of nature sounds plays in the background, children write in journals. End with the Lord’s Prayer, a prayer that, once memorized, equips children to participate in this ritual prayer of the greater faith community.
Rites of passage are rituals that help us to celebrate the passage of time and faith on the move. Faith formation rituals include baptism, receiving a Bible, learning the Lord’s Prayer, taking communion for the first time, and confirmation. These rituals call for a faith community celebration that can be as simple as a round of applause and ice cream sundaes.
Encourage families to establish rituals of faith at home, too. When I was a child, our family bedtime ritual involved my mom coming upstairs to tuck us in and then standing in the hallway between our bedrooms reading from a devotion book for kids. Mom’s simple ritual of faith was a perfect end to many a day!