Children have a hard time doing adult things. They don’t sit in coffee shops catching up with their friends. They’d rather be running, playing, and screaming. Kids get bored when adults do adult things.
That’s why children have a hard time in most Christian worship services. If your worship service is active, chaotic, and changes every sunday, kids get lost. They can’t keep up with all the frenetic energy the adults push into the room. If your worship service is calm, stoic, and filled with unison speaking, kids lose focus. They can’t read difficult words fast enough to keep up with the group. It’s even worse when they are too young to read at all.
Parents care about their children , and they want to see their kids grow as faithful Christians. Worship as a family is one of the best ways to help your children grow in the faith. It takes a little work, but you can get them to participate. Here are some tips that parents can use to help keep their children involved in worship.
Practice Worship at Home
Every Christian church has music, and most of them have some form of congregational singing. Children, especially small children, love to sing, and they will love it even more if they can sing with the adults. With a little extra effort, you can teach your children the songs you sing in church, so they can sing, too.
Ask your pastor or worship leader to tell you one of the songs you’re congregation will sing at the next worship service. Then, find a recording and play it all week long. Sing along with the music, and encourage your child to do the same. By the time Sunday gets there, you child will know at least one song by heart.
If your church follows the historic liturgy, it’s even better. The liturgy is designed so non-readers can participate in most of the service, because it repeats every Sunday. Young children can memorize the service and follow along. Sing the music at home during the week. Play recordings of it in the car. Practice the parts of the worship service. When they recognize the music or their speaking parts, the kids will chime in with the congregation.
Prepare Them For The Readings
Many churches have a set schedule of readings, called a lectionary. Many protestant churches and catholic churches use the Revised Common Lectionary , which means that the readings are the same in most churches across the whole world.
If your church follows a lectionary, use the readings from the upcoming Sunday in your family devotions. If you’re children are young, choose a story from a children’s bible that matches the Gospel reading or the Old Testament reading. When you prep them at home, they will pay attention better in worship.
If your church doesn’t have a set schedule, ask your pastor or worship leader to let you know what is coming up. Most pastors have a series or a pattern planned out months ahead of time, so yours should be able to help you.
Provide Activities That Tie Into The Readings
Even with a lot of preparation, kids will have a hard time in worship. Sometimes you need an activity to help them focus. Rather than simply distracting them with a random coloring book, use this activity time to reinforce the readings or the preaching.
The appointed Gospel reading for August sixth was Matthew 14:13-21, when Jesus fed the 5,000. He divided five loaves of bread and two fish into enough food to feed everyone. If your kid needs a snack, offer goldfish crackers. They tie into the story, and they’re delicious. Choose a coloring page that illustrates the story.
Sit In Front
In my congregation, the first six rows are almost always empty. No one likes to sit in the front. Parents of young children are doubly hesitant, because they want to be able to make a quick exit if their kids get too loud. So, they sit in the back.
The back of the church is a terrible place to teach children to participate in worship. They can’t see. If the congregation is standing, all they see are people’s backsides, and no one wants that. While adults can usually ignore noises and movements, children have a hard time focusing. There are too many distractions.
In the front, however, kids are right in the action. They can see the pastor at work. There might a band or a choir. Worship can have so much cool stuff for kids to look at, it’s a shame when they miss out. If your church is decorated traditionally, there will also be stained glass, paintings, or statues in the front. These decorations come from an era when most people in the church could not read. The windows were sermons they saw rather than heard. Even if your child becomes distracted, these images can help refocus on Christ.
Try out these tips to help your kids participate in worship, but be patient. It takes time for children to adapt to new situations, and the transition might be rough. Stick to it, and you may find that your children get something out of adult worship. They’ll learn to worship like adults so they’ll keep worshiping when they are adults.
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