Brutal honesty time.
Sometimes, my kids think church is “boring.”
Not that long ago, my middle child fell asleep on her dad’s lap right in the middle of the 9:30 service. My oldest makes the most amazing doodles you’ve ever seen during service times and on the rare occasions I can get my youngest to make it through any portion of a service, he spends most of his time touching everything he can get his hands on like hymnals, bulletins, random stranger’s hair…
So, why in the world do I make such a big deal about having kids in worship? Obviously they are bored. Obviously I am forcing them to do something that they don’t like and probably scarring them for life when it comes to attending services. Wouldn’t it be better for them to be somewhere else, like with other kids in a different room, where they can have fun and want to come to church?
There’s a lot to unpack in those questions, more than one blog post can cover. A lot of underlying assumptions about why we go to church and what church is supposed to look like and how kids are wired and all that stuff, but I’m just going to tell you my simple reason for why I want my kids participating in worship.
Because they are members of the body of Christ.
It’s simple really. They have each made declarations of faith, appropriate to their age and understanding, that they love God and want to follow Him.
They are part of the church. The church needs them. And they need church.
Okay, you thought I was brutally honest above… check this out.
Sometimes, I think church is boring. Hey now, so do you!! Be honest, sometimes we have a really hard time engaging, in some cases, staying awake. We wish we could curl up on our daddy’s lap and grab a quick cat nap during the sermon.
But most adults I know, especially adults that are desiring to grow in their faith and active in their walk with Christ, would not use the fact that church is “boring” to dissuade them from attending.
Because that’s not why we go to church.
We don’t go to church for an adrenaline rush. We don’t go to church to be entertained. We don’t go to church for goosebumps and thrills and chills. I’m not saying there aren’t times when we have amazing moments where those things might happen, but that is not WHY we go to church.
And that is not WHY my kids go to church. Sure, I do my best to engage them with the service. And our church is exploring more ways to welcome and invite kids into active participation in the service.
But even if we do it all perfectly, chances are, there are going to be days where church is boring. And that’s okay. Because there are days when school is boring, and home is boring, and life is boring. If we are never bored, if we are constantly entertained and distracted, how are we ever going to find time to “be still and know that He is God?”
If you are concerned with bringing your child into worship because you are afraid that he/she will be bored, don’t be. Being bored is not the worst thing in the world. But here are some great suggestions for how you can engage with your child during the service so that being bored and being left out don’t have to be the same. Kids don’t just have to sit and tolerate services. They can be invited into the experience and my guess is, if we engage with them during service time, we may just find out that we too get more from the service. (BTW, these ideas were inspired from an insert from Christ Church Parish in Raleigh, NC and a pew card that we use at my church)
- Sit towards the front where it is easier for your little ones to see and hear what is going on. They tire of looking at the backs of others’ heads.
- Quietly explain parts of the service and actions of the ministers and whisper the sermon to them in words they can understand.
- Sing the hymns/songs, pray and voice the responses because children learn the liturgy by watching you!
- If you have to leave the service, feel free to do so but feel free to come back as well!
- Let your kids doodle and color in church. Often when their hands are busy, their minds are engaged with the service more than you realize.
So many times I have parents tell me, “I didn’t think my child was listening to the sermon at all but then later, he said something almost word-for-word that the pastor had shared!”
Kids are a lot more perceptive than we give them credit for.
They are learning all. the. time. They are watching you, listening to you, and imitating you.
The next time your child says, “I don’t want to go to church. It’s boring!!” and they will because they are kids, give them a hug and say, “I know it can be boring sometimes, but that’s not why we go to church. We go to church because we are part of the body of Christ. And you are an important part of Christ’s body. If you aren’t there, a piece is missing. Who knows? God might use you today to encourage someone who is sad, to teach someone who is needing to learn, to love someone who needs to be loved. God might even speak to YOU if you listen closely. You are special to God and to us, and we need you there!”
And, as needed, remind yourself of that truth as well.
For more information about
- Kids in Worship
- Determining which Type of Family Ministry model works best for your church
- Encouraging the continued conversation through Practical Discipleship at Home
- Seminars, Workshops, Coaching
About the author
Christina Embree is wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. Currently studying Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, Seedbed, and ChildrensMinistryBlog.com.