02 Aug Tips for Bringing Your Child to Worship
For many parents, the thought of bringing your child into the worship service seems like a daunting task. As a parent of two young children (ages 2 and 4) who regularly attend service, I have learned some tips that may help you.
Remember it’s a process
We began bringing our children to the first half of the service when they were about 2 years old. We found that they enjoyed singing and hearing the music, however, they had a hard time sitting quietly during the sermon. So we initially spent a lot of time taking our children out of the service to provide instruction, warnings, and discipline. Occasionally we would drop them off in their class if they were having a particularly difficult time. You will be surprised by how quickly they are able to learn.
Sit in the balcony
The balcony is my favorite spot to sit with my kids for several reasons. First, if I need to take my child out of the service to deal with discipline, I will be less of a distraction in the balcony. Second, the balcony gives my children a very good view of the service. They can easily see the entire stage and will stay more engaged as a result.
Don’t start any patterns you don’t want to continue
When my children first began to sit in the service, I intentionally avoided keeping them busy with coloring pages, games, and other activities that had nothing to do with the worship service. I wanted my children to understand that we were there to worship and they needed to pay attention to what was happening in the service.
Help your child stay engaged
I have found that my children do a better job staying engaged when I serve as a “translator” of sorts. There are many parts of the service that my children don’t understand. So I will whisper to my children and try to summarize song lyrics or something the pastor is saying in terms my child will understand.
Know when to step out of the service
Most parents are hyper sensitive when it comes to their children being a distraction during the service. However, occasionally parents seem completely oblivious to the noise their child is making. Please be respectful of those around you. If your attempts to stop the distracting behavior fail, remove your child from the service and deal with the issue privately. We have a cry room available downstairs with a live stream of the service. I used this several times when my children were first starting to attend the worship service. It allowed me to continue watching the sermon and talk to my children about the importance of listening quietly at the same time.
Print off sermon notes at home to bring with you
There are some good resources online that help your children develop the habit of good listening. One example I recently saw can be found here. You can also get creative and make your own personalized template. These will help your children learn to be attentive listeners and stay engaged in the sermon time. Keep in mind that if you find your child doodling more than listening, you may need to try something else. Your goal is to help your child stay engaged and attentive during the service.
Tag Team it
Teaching children is a team sport. My wife and I typically sit with our children in between us so that we can deal with the child next to us. If one of us has a difficult time with a child we will shift them around so that the other parent can deal with them for a few minutes. If the child needs to be removed from the service to be disciplined, I will typically deal with that as the father. If you are a single parent or your spouse is not present, sit with other parents who can help you if you need to step out of the service for a moment to deal with discipline.
Understand the value of corporate worship
There is something healthy about corporate worship. The author of Hebrews said that as we approach the last days, corporate worship will be increasingly valuable (Heb 10:24-25). Your children will benefit from seeing that they are part of a larger family of faith. In a world where Christians are becoming more and more marginalized, it will be important for them to see they are not alone in their belief. It is also tremendously valuable for children to see worship of God modeled by their parents and by others in the faith community.