Sometimes the difference for children between enduring worship services and enjoying worship services is simply a matter of preparation and training. It is our heartfelt prayer that your child will come as a participant in the service to worship our great God!
1. Be Prepared!
Lay out everything you need (clothes, offering, Bibles, note pads, pens) ahead of time so when it’s time to leave, everyone is ready and relaxed. A good rule of thumb is to avoid bringing in loud toys for your child to play with during the service. Keep Sunday simple; a day of rest, rejuvenation, and rejoicing.
2. Be a Role Model
Your attitude on Sunday will be caught by your children. Ask the Lord to help you model a positive attitude, a cheerful voice, a spirit of anticipation and enthusiasm, and a heart for worship.
3. Encourage Participation
Teaching your child worship songs at home will enable him to participate more fully on Sundays. Have your child to sit, stand, clap etc. when appropriate. Allow her to bring some money to put in the offering. Show her the words to the songs, even if she cannot read them all. Point out when the Bible reading is a verse they have memorized or are familiar with.
4. Teach Active Listening
Help your child to focus on the sermon by whispering short instructions to him – i.e. “Listen to this story”, “Can you draw a picture of…”. This is not a time for discussion, but rather short statements to help him focus. Younger children can draw a picture related to the sermon; older children can write down words they hear or scripture references. Let them copy part of your own notes. Picture Bibles or Bible story books can be quietly looked at when very young children have reached the end of their attention span.
5. Stretch Their Ability to Sit Attentively
If you have an active child, you may need to take him or her out of the service part way through. You may need to be firm. If you child is being disruptive and needs to be taken out, know that you have he backing of the congregation in this matter. Don't count, threaten, or give chances to a disruptive child. There is a "training room" available for situations that need such attention. This is not a staffed nursery. The goal is always to get the child at a place where they are ready to re-enter the service. Also make sure to reaffirm positive behavior. Remember, the goal is not to have perfectly silent and still children, but rather to instill a love and passion for God, His Word, and for gathering together with Christian brothers and sisters to worship our Creator!
6. Talk About the Service
Speak positively with your child about the service. See if he has any questions. Encourage him to share drawings or notes. Be careful not to be critical or to gossip on the way home. Churches are groups of imperfect people coming together to glorify their Maker! Make it a game to share something each person learned or enjoyed at the service.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do is practice family worship at home. Use those times to work on sitting still, promote active listening among your older children, pray together through the prayer gram, and perhaps even sing through the hymn of the month. Also use this time to discipline when needed so that your child knows what to expect when you arrive at the worship service. We understand with little ones this can be a challenge. There are multiple mom's in our congregation with younger children that can be a great resource for other moms in this situation.