Our church campuses reopened this Sunday! We reopened with services only and no kids’ ministry, student ministry, or small groups meeting. Having kids in the sanctuary is obviously more challenging than only having adults. It is not our norm and we needed to engage families. But, to me it presented a unique season for families to worship together and for our church to function a little bit differently (in a good way).
How We Engaged Families the First Sunday Back
We communicated upfront with parents. We found out what some of our parents’ concerns were. We tried our best to address them both internally by making changes and externally by communicating to them what to expect on Sunday.
We made it a celebration. We didn’t want church to feel awkward, even though to some degree that was inevitable. Our intern recruited several teenagers to greet everyone in the parking lot (socially-distanced of course) with signs, waving, and lots of excitement.
We shortened our service. We made our services forty-five minutes (down from the typical hour) for two reasons. We needed plenty of time in between to sanitize. We know kids can only sit for so long.
We restructured our service. We got some great input from our parents. We moved the sermon towards the beginning of the service and put the majority of worship towards the end. That way by the time kids were extra wiggly, it was time to stand up again.
We split the sermon with an interactive moment. Another great tip from a parent was to split the sermon rather than expect kids to listen for 20+ minutes. We split it with a moment directed at kids, but involved everyone and also directly related to the sermon. This week we included a minute-to-win-it game that had our senior adults cheering as well.
We made sure a couple of the songs were songs the kids knew. Our worship pastor is awesome and included two songs that our adults and our kids both sing. He even specifically encouraged kids to jump around and participate in the high energy song.
We provided bags with activities as well as sermon note papers, with a competition. Our bags included crayons, notebooks, Wiki Stix, a bag of gummies, and a lollipop.
We welcomed all families from the beginning of the service, assuring them that the kids were wanted. Our welcome was directed to families who might be anxious. We said from the start that the service might look a bit different. We assured them that we knew there would be extra noises. We invited kids to participate.
So, how did it actually go? We had a great morning of worship. Many of our young families were brave enough to try it. Overall, we had about 50% of our typical attendance which is higher than we expected. The greatest win to me is I did not see families having to get up and leave worship because of their kids. Families were able to engage in worship. Kids were worshipping. It was a good day.
We will continue to adapt in this crazy season. I would love to hear your comments and ideas of how you are engaging families.
This article about how we engaged families originally appeared here.