The local church is a precious gift from God. How can we help our children get the most our of the weekly church service?
First, let’s make sure that we are modeling a love for the local church in our own lives. Commitment to the church should pervade and help shape the rhythms of family-life. Our children need to grow up in a home where church attendance is non-negotiable. They need to see their parents love for the people, the preaching, and the ordinances. Let’s also guard the way we speak about church in front of our children, not necessarily hiding frustrations or hurts that may come along, but making sure our delight in the church is the dominant theme.
Second, let’s help our children understand the goodness of the Lord’s Day and the gathering of God’s people by celebrating this day. Let it be a special day in our home. If our children eat cereal for breakfast Monday-Saturday, let them eat pancakes on Sunday. The Lord’s Day is a day of feasting, of celebrating, of rejoicing in the great work of Christ for His people
Third, let’s help our children have a proper respect and love for others in the church by modeling this for them. Throughout the week, lead your children in praying for the members of your local church. Consider using your church’s directory as a guide – perhaps you can lead them in praying through the whole roll over one month or one year.
Fourth, let’s lead our children in preparing for the upcoming gatherings of the church. If your church announces the songs they will be singing the upcoming Sunday, sing them with your children at home the week before. Lead them in praying for the pastors and for the upcoming Lord’s Day services.
Fifth, let’s train our children to truly participate in corporate worship (and to not be just quiet onlookers).
- Take your children to the bathroom before the service starts.
- Teach your children that the corporate worship hour is a time of reverence and awe (we are communing with God Himself.) It should also be a time of great joy!
- Help them know when to sit or stand as appropriate.
- Teach them to sit up straight and still, being respectful to God and others around them. Allowing them to flop around the seat/pew will establish bad habits that will be difficult to break. Children who are practicing sitting still at home during dinner time or family worship will have much easier go of this on Sundays.
- Teach them to keep bulletin papers and other items as quiet as possible, especially during prayers and preaching.
- Making allowances for the youngest children, teach them to stay awake.
- Teach them to engage the preaching through sermon notes or “drawing the sermon” as soon as possible, rather than allowing them to get lost in distractions.
- Once the child is able to read, teach them to sing with the congregation. You can help younger children by practicing the songs at home ahead of time.
- Immediately after the service is over, praise children who have done well and discipline those who haven’t. Have conversations with your children at home about the sermon and help them apply the lessons to their own lives.
- Seek to make your family’s “pew” a place where the family is together in warmth and closeness, engaging in worship together.
“On the rare occasions when my pastor-husband can sit with the rest of us, the youngest one climbs right into his lap – and is more attentive and still than usual. What a wonderful thing for a young mind to closely associate the closeness and warmth of a parent’s lap with special God-times…A child gets almost the same feeling from being next to his parent of from an arm around the shoulder or an affectionate hand on the knee…The setting of the tight family circle focusing toward God will be a nonverbal picture growing richer and richer in the child’s mind and heart as he matures in appreciation for his family and in awe at the greatness of God.” – Noel Piper