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Worship Through a Child's Eyes

A 9-year-old's observations from a liturgical and a contemporary service.

Back in college my professor of American religion gave us an interesting assignment. We had to visit a number of local churches, sit in their sanctuaries, and write down our observations of the spaces. Based on these observations, we were to deduce the theological beliefs of each congregation. How were the seats arranged? What was the visual focus of the space? Why did the Presbyterian church have a soaring pulpit? Why did the Episcopal church have a baptismal font at the entrance? (The most intriguing churches were ones where their explicit theology did not conform to the implicit theology communicated by their space.)

Because of this assignment I was intrigued (and rather proud) when I discovered my 9-year-old daughter conducting a similar exercise. Zoe has joined me at a number of different churches this past year, and during one of the services I noticed her writing in her journal. She later showed me a list of things she had observed in the service that were different from our home ...

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