One Sunday some months ago, I watched seven-year-old Liam watching the choir. He had been sitting and coloring at the Pray-Ground, but when he saw the choir stand to sing, he stood to watch them.
And boy did he watch! He was transfixed. His mouth hanging open, his gaze moved slowly from the choir members singing to Keith directing and back again. He even began to mouth the words they sang.
I was already a believer in the Pray-Ground. Kids like Liam want to join the adult world. They want to be helpful. And they will, naturally and spontaneously, as adults give kids opportunities to watch and practice. But if adults don’t, kids won’t.
The Pray-Ground offers kids that opportunity in Zion’s worship, as I saw so clearly with Liam that Sunday. A Pray-Ground is a space in the sanctuary where kids can be kids and do worship-appropriate kids’ stuff, while watching and engaging with what’s happening.
Without it, Liam would not have been moved by the choir. He would’ve been somewhere near the back, too far away to notice, with too many tall pews and taller adults in his way. The Pray-Ground was to Liam like the tree was to Zacchaeus—his chance to get a glimpse of the Lord passing by.
At the request of Zion’s Faith Formation team, Council approved removing two rows of pews from the front “organ” side of the sanctuary to make room for the Pray-Ground. This comes after 10 months of easing into it—first in the Chapel during midweek services and later in a temporary place in the Sanctuary. The pews will be removed the week of Monday, October 16.
I do not have a vote on Council, but I wholeheartedly support this decision! More room means:
- A lasting home for the Pray-Ground. No need to move it before and after communion.
- Less roaming during worship. Ample space for parents, grandparents, and other caregivers to sit with their children while they use the Pray-Ground.
- A safe and peaceful coexistence with the beautiful new piano and other worship furnishings.
“Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them,” Jesus said. Zion is a congregation of people who obey this command—from careers in education and family support to Zion’s children’s book ministry and commitment to share the bread of communion anyone old enough for solid foods.
The Pray-Ground is one more way to obey Jesus and to make a strong statement to all who come: “Children belong here!”
Thanks be to God!