Cheryl Markland, the children’s consultant for the Baptist State Convention of NC writes about options for corporate worship for children in this three-part series.
Often parents and other church leaders opt for children’s church because of the assumption that children do not “learn anything” in the corporate worship setting. If adults take time to observe children in corporate worship, they may observe that children seem to not be paying attention as they draw, read or doodle but when the pastor begins to tell a story, they will look up and attend to what he is saying. Yes, they are listening, just not as actively as we may hope or think.
The service should not be child-centric but chances are that if steps are taken to make worship more engaging and interactive for children, they will listen and participate at a deeper level (and probably many adults too).
Some ideas to consider for making the service more inclusive to children are:
- Ask children to usher, pass out bulletins, read scripture, pray, or find other ways to actively serve and take part in the worship service.
- Break the sermon into sections with time for music or discussion questions between each section.
- Tell stories that make application to teaching points.
- Learn scripture together as a congregation during the service.
- Have a fill in the blank listening guide that follows the sermon outline.
- Have children lead through worship music, not just perform a song.
- Ask the congregation to join in singing what the children have learned in choir.
- Use pictures that illustrate what the pastor is sharing.
- Research and share the historical, cultural, physical setting for scripture.
- Use an object to illustrate the main points of the sermon.
- Send a link to share the worship music so that parents can help children learn music before Sunday.
- Have pew Bibles that are the same as the children use in Bible study. Use this version in corporate worship.
- Encourage children to bring their own Bibles to church and allow time for children to find scripture references used during the service.
- Add questions about the sermon in the bulletin so that parents can discuss the main points with their children after church.
None of the ideas given above are radical in planning or implementation but will offer dividends beyond measure. Parents and church leaders can intentionally include children in worship.
Psalm 78: 5-7 (CSB) tells us that:
“God established a testimony in Jacob and set up a law in Israel, which He commanded our father to teach to their children so that a future generation—children yet to be born—might know. They were to rise and tell their children so that they might put their confidence in God and not forget God’s work, but keeps His commands.”