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Children and Church

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A group of multi-ethnic children at Sunday School in a real church classroom. Very shallow focus on girl's left eye.

Do you attend a kid-friendly church? Some places of worship are more tolerant than others regarding the needs of our little ones. There are even some churches that give a special kids-only sermonette at the beginning of each service. They invite the little ones to come up to the very front of the sanctuary and sit on the floor around the leader for a short and fun encouraging talk just for them. What a valuable lesson that is giving the kids on how important they are!

But most churches are designed for the grown-ups and as parents we need to figure out how we are going to make these times work for our own families.

Many churches have a separate children’s church ministry that the kids are released to go to at some point in the regular service. These are usually a wonderful time of story telling and interactive fun for the kids while their parents hear a message in the main sanctuary. If your church has a kid’s ministry that occurs after the singing or worship time is over, you still need to occupy your little one for a time. The best plan is to plan ahead.

Always bring a small snack for the quiet times in church. It may be a good idea to make the snack something special that they are not able to have every day. That helps make their time in church an event to look forward to and gives them a sense of its importance to the family.

Of course most parents know to have some crayons and maybe a little tablet ready for these situations. A small Lego set is also very handy for a quiet time in church. Look over your child toys carefully and choose items that do not require or make noise. Even little cars can end up being noisy if your child likes to make the engine sound when playing with them! The same goes for most animal toys and even dolls. A roaring lion in the pew behind them could cause some heads turned your way! And in this day of electronic toys there are many great options for your kids in church. Just be sure to hit the mute button!

For the child who is old enough to read it is not hard to bring along some good books that they enjoy. Another idea for these kids is to challenge them to keep track of every time the speaker says certain words of your choosing. For instance, have your daughter count the number of times your speaker says the word “you” or “God”. She will have to listen quietly and the time will pass quickly as she is kept busy concentrating on the message. As your children age you can challenge them to give you a short summary of the message they heard.

The key is to convey to your little ones that church is an important and enjoyable part of your family tradition. This way your child will grow up to continue your family tradition of attending church and it will become as important to him as it is to you.

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