Liturgy is the overall pattern and content of what we do in the service of worship week by week. It is not just the words we say and hear but involves all our senses as we worship God. It includes the movements, gestures, symbols, colours, smells and tastes encountered in the service.
Young children learn and participate best if they are actively engaged in what they are doing, particularly touching and exploring.
Liturgy boxes are designed to help young children worship and participate in a service in a very tactile way.
The suggestions and ideas on these pages are based on, and are developments of, a workshop led by the Revd Betty Pedley (the then children’s work adviser in the Diocese of Wakefield) in September 1999.
What's in a liturgy box?
A liturgy box is a box of objects and books that are specially put together to help young children join in church worship.
Liturgy boxes can include Christian symbols, Bible story materials, specific Christian worship materials (creed, confession etc), Christian family materials and materials for Communion and Baptism.
How to use a Liturgy Box
Liturgy boxes are generally used with parents and carers where the child is seated in the church. In churches with children's areas there may be a liturgical play leader who works with the children and the liturgy boxes during the service. In some church situations it may be appropriate for there to be a "cantor" who stands at the front and shows the objects at the relevant parts of the service.
Parents and carers may have created a box with their children, which they bring to church. This creates a link between home and church and gives the child the opportunity to play "church" at home. Other churches create a central store of liturgy boxes which are offered to children when they arrive.
Very young children will use the box randomly throughout the service. They will begin to make connections between the objects and aspects of the worship. Gradually it will be possible for the parent or carer to introduce the liturgy box materials at the correct time in the service. The children themselves will begin to recognise which part of the service goes with which item in the box. The objects in the box may lead children to make their own movements and gestures related to the service. Children may be encouraged to join in simple words and phrases related to the liturgy. Children, regardless of age, will still need "free play" use of the box during the service.
Liturgy box contents: Suggestions for items to include in a liturgy box
Lord's prayer: The Lord's prayer in symbols