Yesterday we explained why we think it is a good thing for kids to be in church at regular intervals according to their age and maturity. Today we look at the practicals of this with 5 tips to help.
1. Speak to your Kids about being in church.
Speak to them before you go to church. “Hey kids, today you get to stay with us in church. You get to see the whole of the service.” This will often lead to a longer conversation. It is all a good chance to see where they are at and to explain what church is.
Speak to them during the service. Some people are overly sensitive to not cause a disturbance to those around you. I had a Dad speak to me after church last week “Sorry if I disturbed you whispering to my son.” I hadn’t actually heard him once. Speak to them during the service, help them follow along and be there to explain when they feel a bit lost.
Speak to them after. It is quite right we make an effort to adjust the service because kids are in. Make sure you adjust your afternoon as well. Speak to them about what they saw, what they understood. Make it a precious time to look back over the service. Make it about what ‘we’ all learnt. Not about how ‘they’ behaved. That takes us on to point 2.
2. Model worship to them in and out of church.
Church is not just about church. We are meant to live what we believe the rest of the week. By having your kids in church you invite them to see you. They will see you in the service and they will notice a little bit more out of the service. This is a glorious opportunity for their good and for yours, but have a think what you model. What do you model in the service? Are you there on time? Do you love to be there? Why? How do you sing? How well do you concentrate? Do you write anything down? How about after…. do you seek to put things in to practise that you hear in church? Are you keen to wrestle things though in the week? Our kids are watching all the time. What do they see?
3. Use the sheet.
We give kids a sheet to help. Use them. This week we are using a sheet that you could use with your children every week. Sometimes we will want them to follow the argument of the passage, or follow the story of the sermon. There will be parts when we need them to stop and engage. At other points we will be looking to build an ability to listen to a sermon and follow it if they have a sheet to follow or not. Look at the example below that we are using this week. They have things to fill in, but they will have to listen for a few minutes and then write something down. Then they will have to listen a bit more and think through another section they may want to fill in. This is a more difficult thing to do, but with some encouragement they will be surprised what they can follow.
4. Catch them doing the right thing.
I know, we are sometimes better at catching kids doing the wrong thing than the right thing. Why not reverse it this week? Keep a list of all the times that do the right thing and then praise them for it. They just may be doing more that is helpful than we think.
5. Be in it for the long run.
The goal is to produce an adult, not a perfectly obedient child that stays a child. Let’s be honest, this week may be really tough. It may be difficult for a while. We don’t know when it will get better. Think about how we encourage our children in mastering a musical instrument. We know that Grade 1 needs to be the start point if we want to end up at Grade 8. Sometimes progress is rapid, sometimes we hit snags along the way. If we endure that for the sake of learning an instrument, is it not worth much more investment for the sake of eternity? It’s a marathon, not a sprint.