Parent Guide: Helping Children to Worship
Speak of attending the worship service as a special opportunity. Help children to anticipate being with their family in a special experience.
Make opportunities for children to talk with worship leaders. Invite them to your home or out to eat so that they will feel that the worship leaders are their friends.
Take care of basic physical needs before the worship service. Take children to the restroom and walk around a little if they have been physically inactive for a while.
Sit together as a family, especially when the children are young. This gives you the ability to guide their behavior as well as to interpret things they may not understand.
Encourage your children to stand and sit with the congregation. They may want to sit during the active part of the service, and then stand up when the sermon begins. Not only do they need to participate in the worship experience, but they need the physical movement in order to sit quietly during the sermon.
Involve the children in music experiences. Help them to read the hymnal. Encourage then to learn the songs. You might sing the songs in the car or at home to help the children become familiar with the songs.
Help your children to know how they can best join in prayer. Before worship, discuss concerns or thanks for events or people in the children’s lives or your family life. Help them to know they can pray silently while others are praying aloud. Since they have short attention spans, help them to sit quietly if they finish praying before the prayer leader does.
Help your children to find the Scripture passages in their own Bibles. Especially young readers will be eager to find the passages in their Bibles. Use colorful Bible markers to mark the verse ahead of time.
Explain the offering to your children. Let them participate by putting an offering in the plate. Emphasize that it is a way we show love to God. Help them to know where the money goes once it goes in the offering plate.
You might want to carry a special worship bag for your children. Include interesting paper, special pencils or markers, and perhaps a book (pipe cleaners are a good quiet item). Children often multitask, listening while they are occupied with an unrelated activity. Change the contents of the bag fairly often. Also pick up the children’s bulletins.
Help them to listen for certain words, Bible names and places, and other simple concepts. Younger children can draw picture of things they observe. Older children can keep simple notes.
Prepare them for baptism and the Lord's Supper so they will understand what is occurring. Younger children, who are concrete and literal thinkers, will not understand the symbolic meaning of the ordinances, but they can understand these are important ways for people to remember Jesus and to show others that they are going to follow Jesus’ example.
Before and after the service, talk with your children about the invitation time. They may be getting restless by this time. Explain that people are making important decisions about following Jesus during this time, and they need to “practice their patience.”
Discuss the service on the way home or after you arrive home, answering questions they may have about the experiences. Ask them what they enjoyed most. Share appropriate thoughts or feelings that you may have had. Keep it short and simple.