The mood is one of quiet contemplation in your local church congregation when a child implores very loudly, "I want to go home! This is boring!" We've all been that red-faced parent.
Between sermons that are over little heads and expectations of reverence, church can be hard for kids. Here are six ways to help your kids want to worship.
1. Quiet books
Give little hands something to do during the sermon. There are quiet book patterns to cater to any interest. Some books are soft and include hands-on activities like matching, knot tying or buttoning. Others may be wipeable and allow kids to trace or move around stickers. You can also find magnetic scenes for kids to complete.
You don't have to get complicated. Some parents prefer a book of laminated religious pictures for kids to peruse while keeping with the spirit of worship.
To help your little ones listen in church, give them a bingo card filled with religious words and topics like, resurrection, service, or Holy Spirit. When a child hears one of those words she can place a marker on the space. Give your children a small prize for Bingo and Blackout. (Just be sure to explain beforehand kids shouldn't yell out, "I win!" in church.)
3. Introduce your children to church leaders
When a child knows the person speaking, they are more likely to listen. Take the time to let your children get to know your pastor or other religious leaders. Encourage them to ask questions about jobs in the parish, religious artifacts in the building and the meaning of ceremonies like sacrament. Then, when the time comes for reverence, they will understand what is going on and why good behavior is important.
4. Scripture story picture books
When your kids know the stories that make up your religious tradition, it will be easier for them to understand what is being taught in a sermon. Providing your children with picture books that tell stories found in the bible will help them learn those traditional stories the sermons and ceremonies are based upon.
Kids of all ages will enjoy a writing or sketching journal to use during the service. Encourage your kids to write about what they've heard and how it makes them feel. Have them draw what they see around them or illustrate a favorite scripture or scripture story.
Many churches have age appropriate scripture study classes for preschoolers through teens. Your kids will learn doctrinal basics in a format that captures their interest. This is also a good way for them to make friends at church. Having a friend to share it with increases the appeal of any activity.
It's hard to deal with the loud sighs, wiggling feet and busy hands of your children in church. Don't give up. Teaching your children the importance of church services and the right attitude of reverence while they are young will put them on the path to a lifetime of faith and joy in worship.