It has been two full months since we started keeping children in the worship service with their families. I have been so pleased with how well the kids have behaved. I am also thankful for how patient our church family has been with our families as they have transitioned into this new structure.
As expected there have been some rocky moments, but there have been some truly wonderful moments as well. Part of this journey is learning how to best minister to your children on a personal level. Every kid, and family, is different and the way we worship reflects these differences. One thing that remains the same is that we should all seek to glorify God to the best of our ability. I have had several conversations with parents over the last two months and have continued to read about different ways to keep children engaged and learning in the service and I wanted to take some time and share these things. I hope that these suggestions will help as we seek to best minister to children.
I had a conversation with one parent who told me that their family rule is that they do not open their busy bags or bulletin until the sermon starts. This is a wonderful piece of advice. First, it keeps your kids engaged and participating in the worship service. Kids will learn the songs more quickly if they are standing or sitting with their parents singing along. It also teaches a child what it means to worship God in song as they watch their parents. I would also encourage parents to come with their children as they return their busy bags. This allows Parents to be the ones who reinforce good behavior during the service with a reward, rather than the children just grabbing candy or a prize.
The notebooks we give each child are great for coloring and keeping them quiet during the sermon. But they can also be great tools for learning. Challenge your child to draw a picture about the sermon. At the end of the service you can ask them to explain their drawing to you. This is an excellent way to let your child be creative and to reinforce the lesson they learned in the sermon. It goes beyond simply hearing the message and allows our children to interact with what they are learning.
The bulletin is a great tool for your child to stay engaged in the sermon. There is an activity in each one that ties into the sermon and a place to take notes. The most important part of the children’s bulletin are the Family Discussion Questions on the back. These questions provide an easy way to reinforce the Biblical truths they heard in the sermon. Having a conversation with your children about what they heard will encourage them to listen, and will be a blessing to you when you hear their answers. It is a great way to talk to your children about spiritual things.
I read this suggestion on a few different websites. Find Pastor ahead of time and ask him for a theme word that will be repeated throughout the sermon. Then, have your child listen for that word. Every time they hear the word, make a check mark or squeeze a parents hand. This is a great way for our kids to stay attentive throughout the service.
Here are a couple links that provide “Listening Pages” with words that are frequently used throughout a normal church service and a place to take notes. The second one is designed for children who cannot read or write.
Sit By Your Kids:
Sitting together as a family is a great way to build a spiritual legacy. I was the youngest of three kids in my family. Every Sunday morning my parents sat in between the three of us. It went Kid-Mom-Kid-Dad-Kid (You knew you were off to a rocky start that morning if you had to sit in between Mom and Dad). I learned to take notes by watching my mom and follow along in my Bible by watching my dad. It was in this time that I learned many of the same songs we still sing in church today. A few weeks ago we sang the song “Crown Him with Many Crowns” and I was brought back to those days. I had a very clear memory of standing beside my father while we sang that song in church many years before. As we sang it was almost as if he was right there beside me singing. It was such a powerful reminder that I learned to praise my heavenly Father by watching my earthly Father.
These moments are precious. We may not see the value in them now, but even the smallest little thing could have a lasting impact. Right now it may be more fun for them to sit next to their siblings or their friends, but the lasting impact of children sitting next to and watching their parents worship the Lord in song and quietly studying their Bible as the pastor preaches is so much more valuable.
I hope that these suggestions help you and your family in making the Sunday morning worship service meaningful for your entire family.
I want to say one more time how please I have been in the past two months and the progress we have made in integrating our children into the worship service. If there is anything further we can do to help support you as we transition into this new model or if you have a suggestion of something that has worked well for your family please let us know. We are eager to minster to you and your children.
*This one is long but there are some especially helpful suggestions about halfway down under the heading “Some Practical Suggestions from Noel”