Why Kids Should Not Sit Still at Church


In many churches, you will hear this in the children’s ministry areas.


“Okay…everyone….let’s get quiet…”

“Please stop squirming in your chair…”

“Slow down…don’t run in the hallway…” 

“Sit still…”  

“I’m not going to continue until everyone gets their eyes up front and listens…”

Sound familiar?

And if you sit in on a volunteer meeting, you may hear this…

“I can’t get the kids to listen…”

“The kids in my class are so hyper…”

“I have one little boy that disrupts the entire class…”

“Wow…kids’ attention spans are so short now-a-days…”

“I’m having a really hard time keeping my class under control…”

Sound familiar again?

If so, don’t be discouraged. It’s probably not your teaching ability…more than likely it’s your teaching methods.  

More and more evidence is proving that kids are more attentive and learn better when they are allowed to move. Let’s look at some recent data from leading experts.

We need to recognize that children are movement-based. In schools (and churches), we sometimes are pushing against human nature in asking them to sit still and be quiet all the time.” Brian Gatens, Superintendent of Schools, Emerson, New Jersey

A 2013 report from the Institute of Medicine concluded that when children are more active, they show greater attention, have faster cognitive processing speed and perform better on tests.  

We fall into this trap that if kids are at their desks with their heads down and are silent and writing, we think they are learning. But what we have found is that the active time used to energize your brain makes all those still moments better or more productive.
Brian Gatens, Superintendent of schools, Emerson, New Jersey

And a study by Lund University shows that students, especially boys, who have daily physical education, do much better in school.

Daily physical activity is an opportunity for the average school to become a high-performing school.  Jesper Fritz, physician at Skane University Hospital in Malmo

Professor James F. Sallis of the University of California says, “Activity helps the brain in so many ways. Activity stimulates more blood vessels in the brain to support more brain cells. Active kids do better on tests and pay more attention in school.”

Professer John Ratey from Harvard Medical School says, “Movement activates all the brain cells kids are using to learn, it wakes up the brain. Plus, it makes kids want to come to school more—it’s fun to do these activities.”

Kids aren’t meant to sit still all day and take in information. Adults aren’t wired that way either.  Steve Boyle, Co-Founder of National Association of Physical Literacy

Lindsay DiStefano, professor at the University of Connecticut, says the country is due for a major shift toward appreciating the benefits of physical activity in the classroom.

It’s obviously important for kids to be able to move in a classroom or even worship experience.

I believe if churches will take this to heart and make some changes in how they teach kids God’s Word, we can see behavior problems basically disappear. I believe most “behavior problems” are simply “lack of movement” problems.  

Take a look at your lesson plans. How much are you allowing kids to move? Are you expecting them to sit still and be quiet while you talk for 20-30 minutes? Even if you do get them to sit still, they are probably enduring it more than they are enjoying it.

I believe the more kids move, the more they learn. I believe the more kids move, the more they enjoy coming to church. I believe the more kids move, the better they will retain what you’ve taught them.

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Dale Hudson
Dale Hudson has been serving in children's ministry for over 28 years. He is an author, speaker and ministry leader.  He is the founder and director of Building Children's Ministry. BCM helps churches build strong leaders, teams and children's ministries.  (www.buildingchildrensministry.com)