We continue to be blessed with children in our worship services, and we delight in what that means for our congregation. If we take Jesus’ words seriously, our faith demands that we welcome children in our midst just as we would welcome Jesus. More than that, though, children are a vital part of our Christian faith and, consequently, of our congregations. Children help us understand our faith better, and help model Christ for us in a way we might not have otherwise imagined. There is something innocent and pure about a child’s understanding of God that we adults can all learn from.
We try to maintain a family-friendly atmosphere within our worship service, but parents often feel more bothered by the actions of their children than their neighboring worshipers. Here are a few ways we can all help to make worship meaningful for the children in our faith community.
- Begin at home, making it an exciting event to get to go to worship. Set out your special Sunday clothes the night before, fill a tote bag or backpack with items that will help keep a small child busy, and consider setting an alarm a little early so you have plenty of time to get the family to church.
- The church provides worship bags for preschoolers and younger elementary students. But you might consider putting some quiet toys or games in your backpack, such as cloth dolls or animals and pipe cleaners. Avoid snacks or drinks. Children need to learn early to honor the sanctuary as a holy space.
- Parents with young children often sit toward the back of the worship space so they won’t be embarrassed by their children’s behavior and can exit easily. But often children prefer the front because they can see, hear, and participate better.
- If you arrive early enough, introduce your children to worshipers around you. Parents need all the adult help they can get!
- Help your older child look up the Scripture passage and follow along in the Bible when it is read. Show them how to follow a musical line in the hymnal as we sing together. You’ll be surprised how quickly they will pick up the parts of worship that are repeated weekly.
- If your child receives an allowance, build into it money they can give during worship. Children naturally want to do their part to help others. Make note of any prayer concerns to take home and include in your family table blessings or prayers.
- Sacrament days are special. Baptisms are delightful events that remind us that we are a family of faith, welcoming a new brother or sister. Whether or not your child fully participates in the Lord’s Supper, he or she is experiencing it. The key is to let children know that this is a special part of worship, not a snack as in Sunday School. With children who aren’t taking the sacrament, whisper what you are remembering as you eat and drink, and reminding them “Jesus loves you too!”
- As you leave and return home in your cars, talk about your favorite parts of worship, a Bible story that was familiar, or the sacrament that was observed. Making Sunday worship a regular part of your family’s week will become easier all around.