Every now and then, I notice a trend in the questions, comments, and emails that we receive here at ReFocus and right now, this is the big one! Many churches are returning to worship with all ages included in the service for the entire time or for a portion of the time. And for many, that is new, which means this question is being asked: “How can we welcome children and youth into worship service times?”
When we talk about opening corporate worship times to all ages, we need to take into consideration the substance and structure of the service. Frankly, a traditional church service format is often difficult for kids to engage with. Kids are relational; services tend to be focused on the individual. Kids like to talk; services tend to encourage silent reflection. Kids like to move; services tend to lend towards sitting still…for a long time…
Before we launch into ways that we can work towards making church more welcoming to kids, we must first acknowledge this simple fact: If kids aren’t truly welcome, no strategy in the world will make them feel welcome. If they are just seen as a distraction that the parents and congregation has to put up with, then they will probably be just that, no matter how many cool things there are to do.
But if a congregation truly has at their heart a desire to welcome kids as an integral and participatory part of their worship, that heart will shine through in each tip that is employed. It really does have to start with the heart and go from there. (For more on this, check out this article – Do Not Hinder: Welcoming Kids into Worship)
Here are some practical tips for making your church service a welcoming place to kids, as well as adults while keeping the focus on Christ.
1. Welcome the kids, every week, by name – This may sound redundant, but there is much to be said for a personal greeting from a friendly face and welcome to the service.
2. Have a kids bulletin – Many churches use a bulletin for the service. A fun way to invite kids into the service is to have a bulletin just for them.
3. Create Kid’s Activity packets – Make life a little easier for mom and dad and have kids activity packets with coloring sheets, crayons and quiet activities for the kids to use during the quieter service times.
4. Provide space for parents with little ones – In the back of the sanctuary, consider putting some rocking chairs or space for parents to walk or bounce their littlest ones to sleep.