5 Ways to Engage Children in Church Service

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This post is from our friends at Children’s Worship Bulletins, their handouts are a perfect “hands-on” resource for kids in the adult worship service.

How to Welcome & Engage Children During Worship

Every parent, pastor or church leader has asked this question at some point: How do we engage our children in worship?

We have all seen children in the sanctuary looking bored, irritable, and disengaged while the adults participate in worship. The kids are standing (barely) … looking everywhere but the front … completely disconnected.

Here are some ways to engage children in worship before they are sent off to children’s church — or even when children stay with their parents throughout the entire Sunday morning service!

1. Welcome children to church

When children walk through the doors, make a point to welcome them in some way. The greeters can say the child’s name and say hello. Or welcome them during announcements at the beginning of the worship service. It is so important to show children that they are seen, especially at church.  And although many kids will be too shy to say hello back, the more they are safely approached and greeted, the safer they will feel at church.

It is hard to say “hello” when you do not know names, so build a community that tries to introduce themselves to those sitting around them, including fist bumping or waving and saying hello to the kids.  Children will feel more comfortable and welcomed when they know who they are sitting near. Adults seem to get to know other adults much faster than knowing the children. This is especially true for adults who do not have children, or whose children are grown. Being creatures of habit, we tend to sit in the same places and therefore sit next to the same families. By introducing yourselves to those around you, you open the door for kids to get to know their pewmates.

Another way to help your congregation get to know each other better is to occasionally do a member “Quiz” that asks questions about members. Include a picture and a question about them. Then post the answers — and whoever guesses the most right wins a prize. Do this once a month for a while and you will find that you will get to know names and faces quickly. Questions about “oldest member of our church” and “youngest member of our church” are good ones to start with.  

2. Speak directly to the children at some point during worship.

Another way to truly engage children in worship is to speak directly to them. This doesn’t have to be big; it could be as simple as taking a moment to say a little something to welcome the children (perhaps when you’re also welcoming visitors). It also helps to look at a few kids and wave to them from the pulpit.

If you have time in your worship service, another tried and true way to engage kids is to include a children’s sermon. If your church is small enough, you can invite kids to the altar or stage to let them bust out of the pews and wiggle into a new place.  If your church is larger, be sure the graphics on stage are kid friendly to visually show that this time is especially for them.

3. Give them their own bulletin that matches the reading or sermon.

Handing children a special bulletin of their own helps kids know that church is for them too. This is a great and educational way to engage children in worship, while also providing something for them to focus their mind and energy on.

Receiving a handout can provide a safe interaction for kids who may be shy while being greeted. If they are a new member or visitor, a little care packet containing a couple of bulletins with your church information, crayons and a small gift all add to the experience of treating children as important members of a worship service.

Some children’s bulletin online memberships, such as Children’s Worship Bulletins, provide you with a complete library of bulletins that you can search, and then match the bulletin to the readings or Scripture your pastor is preaching on!

4. Choose at least one song or hymn that you know children like to sing.

When choosing the music for your church service, engage with your music leader or worship team to ensure there is at least one song that children may know or like to sing along with. The opening hymn often works best for this, especially if children are dismissed before the sermon and do not rejoin for the remainder of the service.

Although we all know it is not always about the music, music plays a key role in children’s learning. It’s also a great way to get them to engage when they can sing along. This doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to just kid songs like “Jesus Loves Me” — use any song that may be popular on the radio, has lots of repeating lines or is a tune with words kids can easily recognize.

You can also play a new “learning song,” perhaps before the announcements, that allows everyone to learn the new song before worship. Or have your children’s church leaders teach songs to the kids a few weeks before you play them in service.

5. Be an example.

The best way to engage children in worship is to be an example. Children learn best by imitating those around them. When everyone around them is engaged and participating in worship, your children will see those examples and typically follow suit.

This goes for adults too! When you, as a leader, are engaged with the children and parents, members will also engage with each other.

Children’s Worship Bulletins provides engaging, Bible-based worksheets that are perfect for Sunday worship services, Children’s Church programs, Sunday school and take-home activities. It’s a quiet and fun way to involve your kids in worship and teach them the Bible. Download a free sample or start your membership at www.ChildrensBulletins.com

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