Family Worship

Family Worship is a short 20-minute worship service designed for families with children under 10 years of age.

About Family Worship

Who created the model? Designed by Rev. Lucinda Duncan and Rebecca Kelley-Morgan, UU Religious Educator

Who leads: Co-led each week by two or more members of the congregation’s usual worship team. This could be the religious educator, minister, or music director.

Who participates: Families with children under 10 years old are the intended audience, though anyone is welcome. Often, new families are attracted to Family Worship who have never attended the congregation’s primary worship service. It reaches a different audience and helps integrate them into the congregational community.

Characteristics of Family Worship

  • Takes place at a separate time from the congregation’s primary worship service. In Lexington and Winchester, Massachusetts, it was held from 10:00-10:20 am on Sunday mornings with the primary worship starting at 10:30.

  • It is a full worship service, from opening to closing. It includes joys and sorrows, music and prayer. A story or activity takes the place of a sermon.

  • It explicitly welcomes wiggles and noise.

  • It is visual and tactile and story-based.

  • Songs are easily learned by children who do not read.

  • Content is chosen with the hope that it will be meaningful to adults as well as children.

  • It’s a family ministry.

  • It’s a shared venture of the congregation’s worship team.

  • It is advertised side-by-side with the congregation’s primary worship service, like any alternative service would be.

What Family Worship is Not

  • It’s not a substitute for welcoming children in the primary worship service. Children should still be welcome to participate in all or part of the primary worship service.

  • It’s not a children’s chapel.

  • It’s not the sole responsibility of the children's religious educator or children’s program team—it is a worship service led by the worship team.

Our faith formation specialist, Rev. Sarah Gibb Millspaugh, co-led Family Worship with Rebecca Kelley-Morgan for a number of years, and can offer additional help if you are considering adopting this model in your congregation.