One of my desires for my children is that they would be at home in the church. I want them to know church as a place where they are known and loved by the other children and adults, a place where they can pray and worship God with others, a place where they learn the Bible and grow as disciples of Jesus, a place of joy and peace and service.
My church does a fantastic job of welcoming children at church and acknowledging that church is for children and adults alike. Even so, I try to do my part to help my 2-year-old daughter feel at home while we’re at church each week. Her age group is typically in the nursery for most of the service, but joins the congregation for communion and worship at the end. My hope is that she feels like she knows what’s going on at church, instead of feeling like everything’s going over her head. Here are some of the things I’ve done so far to work towards that end:
- Make a playlist of songs your church frequently sings and play it throughout the week so that your kids find the worship songs familiar and can sing along more easily. I take home our bulletin each week and add new songs to my playlist so that it’s more or less updated most of the time.
- Talk about the different things that your child may see during the service. My husband and I have taught our daughter the names of various things up at the front (altar, cross, chalice, etc.) and while communion is being prepared we quietly explain to her that the bread and the wine remind us of Jesus.
- Our congregation celebrates the church year, and one simple way to incorporate the different seasons at home is to find a way to display the current color in a noticeable place. I recently got some fabric from the scrap bin at my local sewing store to make mini banners, but you could just as easily frame some colored scrapbook paper or cover a canvas with fabric. When I finish I’ll post pictures!
- Our church follows a liturgy during the service, which is actually really great for kids because certain parts of the service stay the same from week to week. When we take the time to practice saying some of the phrases together at home, we notice that our daughter perks up during those parts of the service.
- Of course, since so much of what goes on a church revolves around the Bible, reading Bible storybooks at home is one of the best ways to help our kids know what’s happening on Sunday mornings (or evenings, in our case).