Encouraging and Helping Your Children in Worship
All children are welcome in our worship services. The following are some helps for parents who want to help their children understand worship and how to "listen with understanding" (Neh. 8:3)
Young children and the singing
The joyful noise of children singing is precious to Jesus and is to be encouraged (Mt 21:15-16). When you receive the bulletins by email on Fridays (if you're not on the list you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added), the songs for that Sunday could be sung by your family to practice. If you're interested in online sources that have the lyrics and music that could be played on a PC/smartphone/tablet, let us know (some old hymnals here may be available, too)
Young children and communion
As little ones observe communion for the first time, questions are likely to emerge. Consider:
1. Communion gives a great opportunity to explain the gospel (Josh. 4:21-24, Ex. 12:26-27)
2. Before they observe communion I recommend explaining it's not for little children and is not a snack, but it is for Christ's disciples (Matt. 26:26-30). Paul says it's for "a man" who "examines himself," and his words call for both a level of maturity and discernment to "discern rightly" the body with accurate judgment, and understanding what it means to partake "in an unworthy manner" and the warnings (1 Cor. 11:28-31). As they become adolescents or young adults and regularly examine themselves and confess their sins to the Lord un-prompted by their parents, it's good to encourage baptism and communion, and we have a study guide for that time called Preparing Young People for Baptism.
3. I would encourage baptism as the first step of obedience/discipleship before communion (order and pattern of Mt 28:19-20, Acts 2:38-42, baptized then break bread/communion)
Young children and the sermon
They won’t understand all in a worship service, Scripture expects parents to help after (Ex 12:24- 27, 13:14-16). Ask them about the message and the bulletin Sunday School questions (Deut 6:7). Use key words on the note sheet to help kids listen for and mark how many times they hear them.
"Suggestions for Helping Your Child Worship," by Bethlehem Baptist Church
Sometimes the difference for children between enduring Sunday morning services and enjoying Sunday morning services is simply a matter of preparation and training. It is our heartfelt prayer that your child will come as a participant in the service to worship our great God. To that end, we have prepared a few suggestions that might help you lead your child to worship this morning.
1. Be Prepared for Worship
Sunday morning starts Saturday night-- lay out clothes (find all shoes!), get offerings ready, rehearse memory verses, gather together everything you need to bring with you, etc. before Sunday morning. Keep Sunday simple-- Make a simple breakfast and leave the house with time to spare. Remind your child of your expectations of his behavior during the church service.
2. Be a Role Model for Your Child
Start your morning with a positive attitude, a cheerful tone...enthusiasm, and a heart for worship.
3. Walk Your Child Through the Service Before it Starts
Look over the bulletin; point out what will be happening and how your child can participate. This may mean teaching him a refrain ... or teaching him a phrase from a song or chorus and asking him to listen for it. You may want to pray with your child before the service starts.
4. Encourage Your Child to Participate
By teaching your child hymns and choruses at home he will be able to participate in the service. If he cannot learn the whole hymn, teach him the refrain and signal to him when it is time to sing the part he knows. Encourage your child to sit and to stand at the appropriate times, to clap when appropriate, etc. Show him the words in the hymn book, moving your finger along as the hymn is sung. (Even if your child is a nonreader, this will help to focus his attention and encourage him to pay attention to the words.) Have your child bring an offering and place it in the [box]
5. Help Your Child Become an Active Sermon Listener
Help your child to focus on the sermon by quietly whispering instructions to him-- i.e. "Listen to this story", "Can you draw a picture of...". This is not a time of long instruction, but just very short statements to focus their attention. It is also not a time for your child to whisper back to you. Encourage a younger child to listen to the sermon and to draw a picture of something from the sermon. (This should not be seen as a time for doodling, but for active listening.) If your child is very young and has a hard time sitting for a long time, after he has listened to the sermon for awhile, you may want to let your child look at small (nondistracting) Bible storybooks. As your child gets older and learns to write, model for him how to take simple notes-- Let him copy your notes at first; then encourage him to take his own. Keep a spiral notebook [for Sundays]
6. Stretch Your Child's Ability to Sit Attentively
If you have an active child, you may need to take your child out of the service part way through. Keep stretching him until he can sit through the whole service. You may need to be firm. Reaffirm positive behavior.
7. Talk About the Service on the Way Home
Speak positively with your child about the service, and ask him if he has any questions. Encourage him to share his drawings or notes.
I hope this is helpful but if there are other ways we can support your family please let us know.