For many families, the shift of churches to livestream worship presents a great opportunity to teach younger children how to sit through a worship service. Of course the goal is that they would do more than sit through it, maybe even actually profit from it, but baby-steps (as they say).
Here is some advice to train littles to join the family for church worship through livestream worship:
One: Talk through the order of service with your kids. Kids thrive on schedules, and we have a pretty standard routine for our services. So have the kids be on the lookout for things like: Scripture reading, congregational singing, pastoral prayer, missionary updates offering, sermon, and benediction. Explain what their purpose is and why they are important. Emphasize that worship is not just the singing on Sunday morning, but all of the elements of the service. (And worship isn’t only the stuff that happens on Sunday morning, but that’s another point for another blog post)
Two: Before the service starts, explain expectations. Are they allowed to get up and leave? What happens if they do? Are they allowed to touch their sisters? What happens if they do? Those kind of questions need clear answers, and with all the stress of disruption of a few weeks of lockdown, they need LOTS and LOTS of GRACE. But kids also do need some clear boundaries to get the most out of this.
Three: Give them something to do during the preaching. Here is a sermon sheet that I’ve found works well with ages 7-10. Give them key words to listen for. If there is PowerPoint used, give them a place to write the points.
Four: Have the kids sing with you during the service. If your church sends out the songs ahead of time, try singing them as part of family worship in the days before church, so that when you do the live-stream, your kids are singing songs they are familiar with. My family lets our kids draw and color during the preaching. My kids have proved that not only can they listen to a sermon and draw, they actually seem to listen better when they are drawing while I’m preaching
Five: After the service, have a debrief time. Go over their sermon sheet. What was the sermon about? Were there commands to obey? Was there something to believe? Have they heard those before? Those kind of questions usually lead to better conversations.
There are two advantages to live-streaming church that make this easier than training children with the real thing. First, you can pause the service to instruct, correct, or discipline. This obviously is not something that can be done in the real thing. Second, you can introduce this with shorter time blocks. If your kids are not familiar with this, have them join for singing, prayer, and then maybe 10 minutes of the sermon. By the time the church lockouts are over, they will have built up the ability to listen to the full sermon and even profit spiritually from it.
It is a parent’s job to train and disciple their children, but it is the church’s job to equip all the saints for the work of the ministry. When you teach your children to sit through church, then to learn from church, and ultimately to spiritually benefit from corporate worship, you are really teaching them that they need the church for their faith. Take advantage of the lockout to do just that.
This article about kids and livestream worship originally appeared here.