I had the privilege of teaching our Children’s church this morning. I am a full supporter of children worshiping in their own age appropriate environment.
I know some parents like to take their kids to big church, but I have yet to hear good reasons or see it done well.
For instance, at one church we attended, young kids were given a bag of small toys and crayons and coloring sheets to keep themselves “occupied” during the service. What did you just teach that child? How to tune out worship. They grow up to be those people that balance their checkbook, play angry birds or write their grocery list during worship. Not a good plan.
Now, some parents say, we need to teach our kids how to worship. Um, duh. That’s what Children’s church is for!!! When you want to teach your 5year old to read, do they go to kindergarten or U of H for English 101?
So is there a way for kids in big church? I think that before 4th or 5th grade, the adult focused material can not be synthesized by kids. My big point this morning? Jesus loves me. My two questions at the end: Who climbed in the tree? Who did he want to see? That information even Masamo understood. Don’t ask him to understand redemption, grace or social justice quite yet…. Because he probably won’t…
But, I do think there are some ways to have kid-friendly services. For instance, for our Xmas eve service we:
Had tables in the back with playdoh and paper and crayons.
Kids were called up to the front once to sing a song and once for kids message.
Made sure that message part was short and sweet.
Also made sure that everyone knew this was kid-friendly so they were expecting kids to be kids…
I’ve also heard about churches that have activity sheets for the kids in the service that are designed to keep them engaged. For instance, you know the pastor is talking about love, so the sheet has a place where kids tally how many times the pastor says love. It has a place to illustrate the 3 examples the pastor is going to give and it is has a place to write down questions for the pastor about what he was talking about. This keeps them engaged in the service. Maybe they turn them in at the end and get prizes for correct times he said the word love, maybe the pastor calls them and answers their questions, maybe this teaches them to be participatory instead of just “occupied”.
So, yay for Children’s church and thanks to all of you that spend your sundays telling our littlest friends about our big God in a way they can understand!!!