Involving Children In Worship
Here are some suggestions for involving children in the worship services at your local church or synagogue.
Worship is not child's play. However, children can be actively involved in the worship services at a church or synagogue, depending on the traditions and attitudes of the congregations. Some places of worship offer services just for children, but many do not. Children often become bored and disruptive if they do not feel a part of what is happening.
Here are some suggestions for worship leaders on how to involve the children without overwhelming them. Many of the suggestions apply in Protestant churches; however, Catholic and Jewish children benefit, too.
1. Have a section of the service devoted just to children.
Many churches have what they call a "children's sermon." At a church where I once served as the senior pastor, one of the men in the church would use objects to illustrate spiritual truths. For instance, he would use a dollar bill to discuss giving to charity, or a rock to discuss the stability of God. At other churches, I would give the children's sermon. In fact, I challenged the children to a contest - the first child to bring me an object that I could not draw an analogy from would get $20 from me. After several weeks, someone handed me a small wad of paper. I did not have a clue what I could teach from that, so the boy received a $20 bill. Later, of course, I thought of something. There are books that have children's sermons.
2. Allow children to help with the service. Catholic churches, for instance, for years have used children for altar service. My own children have helped pass the offering plate. A few times, while serving as pastor at a small church, I allowed my children to lead congregational hymns. I have known of children who actually preached sermons. However, I do not advise that unless the leaders of the congregation have properly supervised the child.
3. Put their hands to work. Crayons have saved the sanity of more parents in church than perhaps any other tool. A child can listen while coloring. Instead of them coloring the hymnals, the congregation can purchase bulletin inserts or coloring books with religious themes. These can be coordinated with the pastor's sermon or the holiday season.
Also, my children will read books during services. They listen to the message, but they also are kept busy. That way, they are less likely to be disruptive.
4. Let them be friendly. Children are usually happy people. Let them greet people as they come into the auditorium. Teach them how to shake a hand, smile warmly, greet people with kind words, hand out bulletins, etc.
5. Teach them responsibility. Every congregation has its beliefs on who participates in what during a worship service. However, certain children are old enough to practice certain responsibilities. Certain children, after being received into the congregation, may take communion. This is a solemn responsibility. Prepare the children for the event by explaining the significance.
If a child is too young for a service, please provide a quality nursery. Screaming babies and frantic parents have ruined many a sermon. However, let the children do what they are able to do, and they will appreciate the involvement. Children like to DO, not just watch. Involve them, and they will benefit more from your worship services.