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“Teach not with your words, but with your actions; not with discussion but with demonstration. For it is what you do that your children will emulate, and how you are that they will become.”
~Neale Donald Walsch

A word about Grace Space from Pastor Kris...

It all started with an idea...

What is Grace Space?

Who Will Use Grace Space?

A Grace Space is a designated place in the front of the sanctuary where young children can experience worship through age-appropriate worship materials and tools that will help keep them engaged in what is happening — materials such as children’s Bibles and books, coloring/drawing materials, soft toys, Play-Doh and pipe cleaners and other manipulables, items related to the scripture theme such as smooth stones, feathers, shells, etc.

Young children who are not comfortable sitting in a pew or leaving the worship service. Parents, other adults, and older students may choose to sit in a nearby pew, or on the floor with the children. At community we will bring families from the back to the front of church. Once worried about the disruption their children added to a service, children will now be engaged and celebrated during worship.

Why a Grace Space at Community?

We can apply the Wesleyan Quadrilateral to help us understand why Pray Grounds are valuable for both worship and faith formation:

• Scripture: Matthew 10:13-15. Unlike his disciples, who considered children a distraction, Jesus welcomed & blessed the children.

• Tradition: The tradition of sending children out of worship prevents them from participating in essential components of Christian faith formation, i.e., community prayer, music, scripture reading, pastor’s message and Holy Communion.

• Reason: In order to be fully formed and developed, worship skills, behaviors, knowledge and beliefs require exposure, practice and experience. Without these, children cannot learn what to do in worship or what worship can do for them.

• Experience – According to the 2017 Trinity UMC Worship Survey, 96% of respondents agree that “families worshiping together” and “all generations worshiping together” are essential for Christian faith formation. Other churches with Pray Grounds also agree.

Welcoming Families

Many churches are finding success at more fully welcoming families and integrating children into worship by installing a Grace Space at the front of their worship space which allows young worshipers to engage through age-appropriate means. By moving families from the back of the sanctuary (where they feel they have a quick escape if a child is deemed too loud or active) to the front of the sanctuary and closer to the action; children can begin to engage more deeply in what is happening in worship and will have the opportunity to learn from watching and listening to worship, even if they are actively engaged in another type of activity or play. Meanwhile, parents and grandparents can worship more fully by knowing that their children are safe and welcome to play and move around during worship.


A Shift in the Church towards Child Based Learning

Grace Spaces were introduced only a few years ago in response to a number of shifts and changes in today’s Protestant church culture, such as

• parents desiring to have their young children in worship with them;

• parents not wishing to leave their child in a church nursery with a “stranger”

• congregations that do not have enough children to sustain a Sunday School program*

• the understanding that the children can only learn to worship by regularly being in worship;

among other situations unique to each individual congregation.

Young children learn by observing the adults around them.

• Children are able to process what they hear more effectively when they have something to

do with their hands.

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Community UMC seeks to provide excellent worship that is centered in our

faith and which draws people together across the generations. While the past

model of faith formation for children included a short children’s time in worship

and then dismissal to Sunday School, or a completely separate Sunday School

time, the lives of families and our society has been changing. Most have only an

hour to give on Sunday mornings and seek time together as a family as so much of their week is spent apart. In addition, there is less trust in institutions in each successive generation since World War II, which has led to parents increased concern over leaving their children with adults who are unfamiliar to them.


To meet these many evolving needs and concerns of families, we seek to create worship that will allow families to worship together. To be successful in this, adults will need to feel they are experiencing something valuable to their faith. In addition, children will need space where they can be children – space to be active, creative, inquisitive, and involved – while also being safe.


Next Came a Plan!

Community Grace Space Vision Board

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The Work of Grace Space...

“Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
Mark 9:37

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