The PrayGround is Here!

At Trinity Lutheran Church, as Jesus did, we welcome children of all ages as integral members of the body of Christ, and we welcome the sounds and activity that accompany them! To further welcome these little ones, Trinity has a PrayGround, a space especially designed for parents and their active little ones.

An area near the Praise Team has been furnished with a small table, easel, and quiet toys/activities so children can have a little more space to move around and be able to clearly see the action.

How will this work?

Children too young to sit still will have a space and appropriate toys to play with near the front of the church. Parents will sit near their children in the surrounding pews.

Parents should also be aware that their child might appear in the livestream recording on Sunday mornings. Parents who choose not to use the PrayGround may also make use of these resources:

  • Busy Bags with a book, coloring book and small toy are always available in the back of the sanctuary.
  • The Lullabies and Laughter room across the hall from the sanctuary - While the sounds that children make are most welcome in the Sanctuary, we recognize that concerns about disturbing others can hinder parents’ ability to focus on worship.

Why does this work?

A PrayGround near the front helps kids participate in worship because they can see what is happening. While preschoolers may look like they’re just playing, those little ears are working overtime! When they can see what’s going on, they may imitate the pastor’s or a musician’s movements, or sing the songs at home.

After a recent baptism, we heard about a little guy sitting in the front row. He was watching the Praise Team: (poke poke) That guy’s playing a guitar! A bit later: (poke poke) That guy’s playing a box! Then, with great excitement after spotting Pr. Kwen playing the harmonica: (poke poke) That guy’s playing his HAND!!!

Other churches that have instituted a PrayGround found that noise level rose slightly in the first exciting weeks, but then dropped as children settled into the new space.

How can you welcome children in worship?

  • Greet/learn the names of the young children who sit near you.
  • Offer to read or color with one child during worship, especially if another child in the family is especially fussy or upset.
  • Help preschoolers and elementary-aged kids follow the bulletin. Children learn to worship by participating!
  • Invite kids to serve alongside you in worship as greeters, ushers, etc.
  • Celebrate the wriggle that God put in children, and that children’s “mode of being” in worship is intrinsically more vocal and more physical than that of adults.
  • Recognize that some children (and adults) with physical, sensory, or mental disabilities may make noises or act in ways that seem strange but are perfectly normal for their situation. God made each one of us!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Prayground?

The Pray-Ground is an area in the front of our sanctuary specifically set aside for young children during worship.  It consists of a small table with child-sized chairs, coloring sheets, crayons, blocks, books, and soft toys.

Isn't it noisy?

Not really, and certainly not any noisier than it would be if those same kids were sitting in the pews!  We took great care in selecting play items that would keep the noise to a minimum: the blocks are made of foam, the books are free of squeakers and crinkle-paper, the toys are all plush, and even the baskets where we keep the crayons are made of fabric.

The only items that could really be used to make noise would be if a child were to bang a crayon over and over on the plastic tables, but if/when this happens, a parent will generally step in quickly.  Same for dumping the entire basket of crayons out, which may happen occasionally.  We'll get over it!

Why on earth did you put it in the front?

Since Lutherans mostly sit in the back, there was plenty of room up front! Seriously, kids pay more attention when they can see what’s going on, and they’re short!  Lots of churches have similar areas for kids in the back, or in the middle, or off to the side.  We recognize that kids will play and color for much of the time, but they also pay attention to what’s happening in worship.  When they can see what’s going on, they absorb things in a different way.

We know lots of families sit on the right side, perhaps because the bathrooms are close by. There is a family bathroom just a few steps from the left rear exit.

Aren't the kids distracting to the pastor?

Not any more than they are when they’re in the pews! Parents will still take their kids out when they get really disruptive, but we trust the parents to make those decisions, and would never ask them to do so.

But how can you expect the congregation to pay attention to the sermon when there are kids playing up front?

Gosh, I don’t know, but somehow we manage.  It’s probably due to the fact that we have excellent preachers!  There are actually quite a number of places in the sanctuary where you can sit and not see the Pray-Ground at all. 

Why bother with a rug when the sanctuary is carpeted already?

Because it makes it so much easier for the kids to understand their boundaries!

Will we keep the Pray-Ground up for all of our services? Or will we offer a service without it?

It’s up for all of our worship services, because we see it as part of our sanctuary. We will take it down for weddings if requested.