Remove learning stumbling blocks to children’s worship.
What about a sermon? Most adult worship services feature a sermon that can vary in length from 20 to 60 minutes-far longer than the attention span of young children. Most kids find a sermon an exercise in endurance and will find other ways to occupy their time. Parents often reinforce this habit of “turning off” Bible teaching by bringing things such as coloring books and crayons to keep the children busy. Parents don’t realize they’re training their kids to see church as irrelevant and Bible teaching as something to ignore.
Remove unreal experiences for kids.
A children’s church leader can present biblical truth far more effectively to kids through R.E.A.L. Learning principles than through a sermon. R.E.A.L. Learning stands for Relational, Experiential, Applicable, and Learner-Based.
Relational Worship—Relational activities are what church is all about-growing in relationship with Christ and with one another. Kids want to talk to God. They want to pray about their lost pets and sick relatives. Kids also need friendships with other Christian kids, and kids need to talk to each other to develop those friendships.
Experiential Worship—Sermons are the opposite of experiential learning, which is learning by doing. A children’s church leader lets kids do things that help them understand Bible truth better than they would by simply hearing it.
Applicable Worship—Of course, God’s Word needs to be applicable for kids today. In our children’s church, we’re not interested in kids being able to answer questions in Bible quizzes but in being different because they know Jesus. Sermons in adult services are designed to reach people with jobs, mortgages, and car payments. However, in children’s church we help kids see how Jesus feels about fights with siblings, obeying parents through chores, cheating to get good grades, and other issues at their level. We want kids to understand that the Bible applies to them today.
Learner-Based Worship—Sermons in “big church” are seldom learner-based. After all, a learner-based session isn’t based on what the leader enjoys or does best (such as preaching), but on what’ll benefit the participants most. In children’s church, we recognize that different kids learn best in different ways.
Children’s church need not be a time of nonstop activity and noise. God said in Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” We can balance the activities in children’s church to include all the different kinds of learners and worshipers, ensuring all have an equal opportunity to meet God and grow closer to him.
Kids can worship.
The Bible even tells us of a time when the kids upset pious adults by their worship of Jesus. Look at what happened after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem in Matthew 21. Jesus didn’t mind noisy kids praising him then, and I know he delights in hearing kids praise him in all kinds of ways in children’s church today.
Pro Children’s Church
- “If we shove children into a service where they only understand 25 percent of what’s going on (and that’s a very generous number), we’re wasting 75 percent of the time we have with them.”
- “In my situation, it would be ideal to have a children’s church, because each week I don’t get anything from the service and neither do my children, only because they’re too noisy. So I take them outside, and I don’t get to hear the message.”
- “Let them rejoice the best way they know how and to have fun with it. Worshiping God should be fun!”
- “Restless kids are a huge distraction to the adult service, and children can really begin to dislike church because they’re continually corrected during the adult service.”
- “It’s really neat to see the kids with hands in the air worshiping God with the same songs the adults sing, but with a style of music they can relate to.”
-poll response at childrensministry.com