Welcoming children into the corporate worship service is such a huge blessing for children, parents, and the congregation as a whole. But we sometimes forget that the word “welcoming” is an active word—not a passive one. It is not merely acknowledging the presence of children in worship. Rather, it is seeking ways to intentionally connect them to the worship experience: singing, prayer, reading of Scripture, offering, preaching of the Word, etc. Writer and pastor’s wife Megan Hill has some great advice—a few, simple things that the church can do to welcome children.
I make no claim that the following suggestions are an exhaustive list of how to welcome children in local church worship. They are simply four things which have been a blessing to my family. These things also have the advantage of being both simple and applicable across church cultures.
- Greet children by name. Welcoming children to worship begins at the door to the church building. Here, after being apart for sometimes a whole week, the people of God rejoice to see one another again face to face. And because we are commanded to greet “all the brothers” (1 Thess. 5:26), we include children…
- Read and preach from the same Bible version every week. …When my church consistently uses a single version of the Bible, it makes it easier for my kids to read it, to memorize it, and to meditate on it.
- Sing from a hymnal or distribute printed words and music. Most kids love to sing. Of all the elements of corporate worship, singing is probably the easiest for them to participate in, the most obvious way for them to contribute meaningfully, and the best opportunity for them to feel a part of the congregation…Having printed copies of the psalms or hymns has helped my children learn the songs by heart and become confident in singing the praises God himself has ordained (Matt. 21:14–16)…
- Specifically mention children in prayer and preaching. …Specifically mentioning children in the sermon reminds them that the commands of Scripture are commands for them. What’s more, speaking directly to kids from the pulpit assures them that the offer of the gospel is an offer for them. I am so thankful for every pastor who tenderly says, “Children, here is your great hope! Look to Jesus, the only Savior of sinners!”
Just a note from my own personal experience with our own children and, now our 2- and 4-year-old grandchildren: Point #3, about singing from a hymnal or printed music sheets, is really helpful. If your church doesn’t do this, talk to your church leadership and see if you can find a way to have printed copies the words to the hymns and songs. Some churches provide these within the printed “Order of Worship.”
Also, if are coming to our National Conference but haven’t signed up for your seminars yet, consider these:
“Let the Children Come to Me” in Worship—David Michael
Like every human being, children were created for worship, and one of the strategies for raising a generation of worshippers is to include them in worship services of the church. Another strategy is to create a separate, more “child-friendly” worship experience for children until there is sufficient maturity and understanding to worship with the adults. In this seminar we consider a biblical perspective on this topic and some practical strategies for welcoming and involving children in the corporate worship services of the church.
Strategies for Engaging Children in the Worship Service—Sally Michael
This seminar will discuss the difficulties in involving children in the worship service and propose solutions to solve those difficulties. Practical suggestions will be given that parents can use to enfold their children in corporate worship, as well as strategies children’s ministry leaders can employ to train and encourage parents to have their children involved in the worship service.
(Image courtesy of phanlop88 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)