Interactive Worship Ideas

My post from Hope4CE, a website to exchange and promote new ides for church and Christian education.


At Faith Presbyterian (, we embrace our traditional worship style and space while making our service accessible and engaging for all. Children and their families are welcome at the front of the sanctuary with activities geared toward their age level. Our family worship guide follows the pattern of the service and offers extra enrichment ideas and activities for children and active learners of all ages.The outline of a traditional worship service centered around The Word is beautiful and quite freeing when we remember that The Word is The Living Word of God – incarnate in Christ, written in scripture, and enacted in the world.

For Lent, we are using a themed sermon series inspired by Rev. Whitney Wilkinson following the “Landscape of Lent.” Each week, we add a new visual element to represent some aspect of the scripture – ashes, wilderness, wind, water, mud, cave, palms, bread –…

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Dear church,

We’ve been in Greensboro for about a month now and I’ve met many of you. Maybe you’ve read my resume, seen my Facebook profile, or perused my faith statement, but I think it’s time for me to introduce myself.

Here are the basic facts: born in Texas, twin sister, little brother, big extended family almost all of whom live in Texas; college at Texas A&M; moved to California to serve as a Young Adult Volunteer for the PCUSA for two years; met and married my husband in Hollywood; went to Seminary at Columbia in Atlanta; took my first call in Columbus, Ohio as an associate pastor for youth and families; two kids: Gracie is 3 and Jake is 16 months.

Got it? You know me now, right?

Okay, more… I love to read even though I rarely have time. Literature is lovely but I’m particularly fond of young adult fiction – fast paced, emotional, plot-driven, finish it in one night kind of books. I love rivers and hills and hiking and canoeing – yet another thing that falls to the wayside in the midst of life. I probably need to work on keeping these things in my life. I should spend less time watching TV or checking my Facebook feed, and more time doing things I truly love.

I love my kids. They do NOT fall to the wayside. In fact, they are one of the reasons I don’t read or hike very much! They are insanely exhausting but an immeasurable blessing – loving, creative, wise, high-energy, joy-inducing, crazy-making blessing!

I have a bit of a bed bug phobia. I’ve never had them, and I plan to do everything I can to keep it that way.

I love my husband. He is the most generous, most fun, most compassionate man, and he’s an incredible pastor.

So, NOW you know me, right?

Probably not. Many of us spend a lifetime getting to know ourselves, so how could we be known by another in just a few short sentences? We are our stories and our life experiences. We are what and who we love. We are our failures, our life choices, our tragedies. But, we are so much more.

We are who we are in the silence, when the heart whispers and the mind remembers, “before I formed you in the womb I knew you…” (Jer. 1:5). There is a piece of divine mystery in all of us – a few wisps of holy wind from the moment God first breathed life into clay, a reflection of divine image upon each face, the sacred imprint of grace pressed into the heart.

This child-of-God-self has very little to do with where we are from or what we do for a living; she does not dress-up in game day colors; she does not care about letters: PhD, CPA, ΚΑΘ or even Rev. She makes herself known in keeping silence, in speaking truth, in giving mercy, in loving – beyond reason or will.

The beauty of a church community is that if we stay true to our calling – to love God and love others – we will get to do all of these things together. We will meet each other in hospital rooms and in homes, in food pantries and garden plots, in candlelit sorrow, in sunlit truth. And every Sunday morning, I’ll show up with my true child-of-God-self to worship. I hope you will too!

grace and peace, Karen

Selfie with a child-of-God (who is also a child-of-mine)

Selfie with a child-of-God (who is also a child-of-mine)


Dear church,

I’ve been putting off writing a “good bye letter” for almost 2 months now. I’ve managed to write the letter telling you I’m leaving, and I preached a final sermon. We’ve hugged and talked and shared coffee. We had the most amazing party last Sunday and I felt so loved and so happy, but also really sad.

As we were driving to church, Gracie and I were talking about how much she was “weewee (really) going to miss everybody.” I told her I felt sad about leaving too and she said, “You mean you don’t want to leave our home either?”

Well, no, I don’t want to leave,” I confessed, and then moved quickly to, “but I know that we’re going to make new friends and…

“I KNOW!” She protested, “I KNOW that.  But… I’m sad.”

That’s the thing about sorrow – it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It doesn’t mean we aren’t hopeful or excited. But sadness just hangs out beneath the surface. And every so often, we are engulfed. And that’s okay. Sometimes, we just need to cry and grieve our losses.

At the moment, I’m grieving the loss of this worshipping community – for myself, but particularly for my children. I love the way Gracie dances to the music at Gathering, the way she skips down the halls to find her friends, the joy on her face when I tell her we’re going to church. “My church?” she asks. “Our church,” I reply. I love the way Jake lunges toward Leslie, and Jenny, and Katie, and Amy, and Emma, and Ali, and everyone else who loves him so dearly.

I know they will make new friends and experience God’s love in a new community, but… I’m sad. We love all of you, and we’re leaving, and that breaks my heart.


The Preschool Story Tent

This week, we’ve got more than 130 kids experiencing God’s love in our church. These halls are simply ringing with light and life! For preschool story time, we have the loveliest tent draped in twinkly lights and rainbow gossamer. I’ve been creating a similar space for a few years now, but Natalie Wise and Charlie and Jack Van Aman helped me this year and they took it to the next level. It is so wonderful and beautiful I can’t help but weep. It feels like just the sort of little tabernacle a 4 year old Jesus would create – full of wonder and mystery, snug but still airy, peaceful and exciting at the same time. 

It’s a sanctuary – a place for tears and singing and stories and games, a place for solitude and community. It’s a place where you can be really, really sad and also incredibly happy at the same time. You don’t have to choose. I don’t have to choose.


Dancing (Just look at her face!)

Last Sunday, at the 8:30 service, Gracie turned to me while Scott was singing the prelude and said, “I love this song.” And later, as we sang Love Divine All Loves Excelling, we danced together and the look of joy and love on her face was ever so holy. My heart was singing and breaking at the same time.