Sometimes it’s hard to sit still, especially for little guys and girls. Children have lots of energy and often entertain themselves (or are entertained by) toys, electronics, or friends. They are accustomed to movement, engagement, and activity. They become bored easily when the environment is not kid-friendly.
Imagine, then, how hard it must be for children to sit down, keep quiet, and be still during a worship service! The world has evolved to one of entertainment, both for children and adults. However, church is not designed to provide entertainment for adults or for children. So, we must provide tools for children to worship effectively? Let’s teach our children how to have wiggly worship.
Active listening is a key to learning, so activities that encourage children to participate in worship can be very effective. Since it’s generally not appropriate to respond aloud during a worship service (at least during the sermon), we must provide children with the chance to respond in alternative ways.
Here are some ways to engage your child in worship:
- Secret Word: Give your child a secret word to listen for during the worship service. Have him/her count how many times that word is used during the worship service. Here are some suggested words: Jesus, Amen, Bible, love, pray, God, etc.
- Books of the Bible: Give your child a list of the books of the Bible (or use the list in your Bible’s table of contents. Throughout the sermon, point to a book of the Bible and have your child find that book.
- Scripture Reference/Address: Take some time at home to teach your child how to find a scripture reference/address. Explain that each Bible verse has an address, much like each home has an address. It helps us find the verse/home. The scripture reference begins with the name of a book (of the Bible), and is followed by a number, a colon, and another number. In the Bible, you first find the book of the Bible (using the table of contents to find the page number, if necessary. Then you find the big number (chapter) and the little number (verse). During the worship service, give your child a list of scripture references. He/she should find each verse and write down what it says. Here are some recommended verses: Matthew 18:3-4, Luke 6:27-28, Romans 8:20, Philippians 4:6-8, 2 Timothy 1:7
- Pipe Cleaner Play: Give your child a few pipe cleaners to play with. They are flexible, yet strong. You can even have your child make shapes with the pipe cleaners to reflect what is being said.
- Draw it Out: Give your child a paper and pencil, colored pencils, markers, or crayons. Have him/her draw things that happen during the worship service. Encourage children to draw some things that the preacher describes. This will help him/her become active listeners.