To be brutally honest, sometimes my kids think church is boring. My middle child has definitely fallen asleep on her dad’s lap right in the middle of a 9:30 a.m. service. My oldest has made the most amazing doodles you’ve ever seen during worship. And my youngest used to touch everything: hymnals, bulletins, random strangers’ hair…
So why in the world do I make such a big deal about having kids in worship? Obviously they’re bored. Obviously I’m forcing them to do something they don’t like and probably scarring them for life when it comes to attending services. Wouldn’t it be better for them to be somewhere else, like with other kids in a different room, where they can have fun and want to come to church?
Those questions leave a lot to unpack. They contain a lot of underlying assumptions about why we go to church, what church is supposed to look like, how kids are wired, etc. But I’m just going to tell you my simple reason I want my kids participating in worship.
Because they are members of the body of Christ.
It’s simple really. They have each made declarations of faith, appropriate to their age and understanding, that they love God and want to follow Him. They’re part of the church. The church needs them. And they need church.
For more brutal honesty, check this out:
Sometimes, I think church is boring.
Hey now, so do you! Be honest: Sometimes we have a really hard time engaging with worship and, in some cases, staying awake. We wish we could curl up on our daddy’s lap and grab a quick cat nap during the sermon.
But most adults I know, especially adults that are desiring to grow in their faith and active in their walk with Christ, would not use the fact that church is “boring” to dissuade them from attending.Because that’s not why we go to church.We don’t go to church for an adrenaline rush OR FOR entertainMENT. We don’t go to church for goosebumps and thrills and chills. I’m not saying THOSE amazing moments DON’t EVER happen, but that’s not WHY we go to church.
And that is not why my kids go to church. Sure, I do my best to engage them with the service. And we continue to explore more ways to welcome and invite kids and youth into active participation in the service.
But even if we do it all perfectly, chances are, on some days kids will say church is boring. And that’s OK. Because some days school is boring, and home is boring, and life is boring.
If we’re never bored, if we’re constantly entertained and distracted, how will we ever find time to “be still and know that He is God” (Psalm 46:10)?
If you’re concerned with bringing your kids into worship because you’re afraid they’ll say church is boring, don’t be. Being bored isn’t the worst thing in the world. But here are some great suggestions for how you can engage with your child during the service so that being bored and being left out don’t have to be the same.
What to do when kids say church is boring
Kids don’t just have to sit and tolerate services. They can be invited into the experience and my guess is, if we engage with them during service time, we may just find out that we too get more from the service. (BTW, these ideas were inspired from an insert from Christ Church Parish in Raleigh, N.C., and a pew card we use at my church.)
- Sit toward the front where it is easier for your little ones to see and hear what is going on. They tire of looking at the backs of others’ heads.
- Quietly explain parts of the service and actions of the ministers and whisper the sermon to them in words they can understand.
- Sing the hymns/songs, pray and voice the responses because children learn the liturgy by watching you.
- If you have to leave the service, feel free to do so. Fut feel free to come back as well!
- Let your kids doodle and color in church. Often when their hands are busy, their minds are engaged with the service more than you realize.
So many times parents tell me, “I didn’t think my child was listening to the sermon at all but then later, he said something almost word-for-word that the pastor had shared!”
Kids are a lot more perceptive than we give them credit for.
They’re learning all. the. time. They are watching you, listening to you and imitating you.
The next time your child says, “I don’t want to go. Church is boring!!” (and they will, because they are kids) give them a hug. Say, “I know it can be boring sometimes. But that’s not why we go to church. We go because we’re part of the body of Christ. And you are an important part of Christ’s body. If you aren’t there, a piece is missing. Who knows? God might use you today to encourage someone who is sad, to teach someone who needs to learn, to love someone who needs to be loved. God might speak to you if you listen closely. You are special to God and to us, and we need you there!”
And, as needed, remind yourself of that truth as well.
This article originally appeared here.