How to bring science into all-age worship
By Sarah Moring, Schools Development Officer and Michael Harvey, Executive Director, God and the Big Bang.
This is the sixth post in our series on Science-Engaged Worship.
God and the Big Bang (GatBB) runs interactive workshop days with children and young people between the ages of nine and 18, giving them the opportunity to discover, discuss and debate the compatibility of science and faith. The workshops equip young people with the tools they need in order to form their own opinions and engage in well-reasoned discussion about the part science plays in God’s world.
Wrestling with big questions of science and faith is key to the faith formation and spiritual maturing of children and young people. Using data collected from GatBB workshop days, it has been found that 43% of 10-11 year olds and 56% of 15-16 year olds agreed with the statement ‘science makes it hard to believe in God’. Bringing science into all-age worship is a great opportunity to demonstrate the compatibility of science and faith.
Science and faith have mystery in common and we can use big questions to help explore both of these together. There are lots of easy hands-on science experiments which could be used in all-age worship as opportunities to open up some big question discussions for the whole congregation. From tornadoes in a bottle to homemade fossils, we can use science as an expression of worship as we discover more about the world God has made. You can find a list of simple experiments along with some related big questions for discussion here.
Don’t feel afraid of bringing big questions of science and faith into worship, even if you think you don’t know any of the answers- there is huge value in saying ‘I don’t know’! Many of the big questions we have don’t have a straightforward answer; sometimes we need to use lots of different sources of knowledge to piece together the big picture. Focus on creating a safe space within all-age worship for big questions to be voiced rather than worrying about the answers.
Giving space for honest, thought-provoking discussion on how science and faith can work together as well as encouraging discussion has a huge impact on children and young people in their personal faith journeys. After one day with the GatBB team, we see on average a 20% decrease in the number agreeing with the statement ‘science makes it hard to believe in God’. One young person said ‘my faith is now questioned just from today. I was sure I was a total believer in science and reasoning, but now I want to make room for Christianity’. Discovering how God is revealed through nature can give the whole congregation an opportunity for awe, wonder and worship.
For more on this subject…
… check out Messy Church Does Science, a project funded by ECLAS through our Scientists in Congregations grants in 2017. There are free resources and ideas for experiments to try at home or at church, plus photos and videos.
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ECLAS is committed to encouraging the whole Church to engage deeply with the implications of science in our time. Considering science within the wider framework of our theological understanding is a vital task.