Search for just a few minutes in the archives of any Children’s Ministry blog or social media group and you will find something regarding the debate on whether or not children should be in corporate worship (aka “big church”). It’s one of those things that there will never be a universal answer to. There are valid arguments on either side, but ultimately it comes down to what your church decides supports your long term plan for the children and families in your ministry.
There are many blogs and resources out there on how to run a fantastic children’s church program – from being a top notch large group communicator to what technology to use to best facilitate your program. There are Pinterest pages and companies devoted to helping you trick out your space on any budget or how to add flair to any set. Unfortunately, there aren’t as many resources out there that offer practical advice on how to help incorporate children and families into corporate worship. So, that’s what you’ll find here – 3 Practical Ways to Include Children Into Corporate Worship:
Prepare yourself. Know your church’s reason behind having children in worship, get right with it, and be able to articulate it to others in a way that is free from emotion. Prepare the congregation. Find ways to tell and show the congregation that you are a church that values multi-generational worship. Prepare the parents. If you have a certain age (say 1st grade) where you make the transition from multiple hours of Sunday school to worship let parents know it’s coming when their children are in Kindergarten (or younger). Prepare the children. Don’t underestimate the power of letting children know what is coming well in advance. Provide opportunities for them to experience pieces of the service leading up to the transition.
Find ways to make children and families feel welcomed and loved each time they enter your worship center. Let them know that they are a valuable, important part of your congregation. For example, you could provide buttons for each child that say something like “new kid on the pew” or you could have a special presentation that recognizes them when they make the transition into attending corporate worship. Whatever you decide, let them know that it matters to your church that they are there – noises, messes, enthusiastic amen’s and all.
Keep the lines of communication open with their parents. Is there something that you can do to support them in this new (and sometimes scary) adventure? Would it be helpful if you provided a list of tips for worshiping with a child? Would it be helpful if you could work with your senior pastor to provide the scripture and sermon topic a few days early when certain topics were going to be discussed? Would it be helpful to provide a bag of quiet items (like pipe cleaners) that would help the children focus during the more difficult times?
Don’t forget – sometimes the smallest things make a big difference!
What have you learned about including kids in “big church”?
(please share in comments below)