How do we make it abundantly clear that children are welcome in worship? This is the question Andrea Roske-Metcalfe, a pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, Apple Valley, Minn., posed when the idea for a “Pray-Ground” was born. The designated play area, placed in the front of Grace’s sanctuary, offers children’s furniture, toys and space for children to play and observe during worship. The Pray-Ground celebrated its one-year anniversary this May.

Much of the inspiration for the ministry came from Roske-Metcalfe’s experience as a mother. “I know how hard it is as a parent with kids to get out the door in the first place. I want families with young children to know once they get in the door that there’s a place for them,” she said. “The [Pray-Ground] serves as a visual reminder every time we gather as church that kids aren’t an afterthought. They are a vital part of the congregation.”

To learn more about this ministry, visit

Erin Strybis
Erin Strybis is a freelance writer based in Chicago and author of The Beauty of Motherhood: Grace-Filled Devotions for the Early Years (Morehouse Publishing, March 2023). Find more of her stories at her website and on Instagram.

Read more about: