One of the goals of our children’s ministries is to prepare kids for full participation in the congregation. To do so, we model a worship service in our children’s ministries as well as offer parents resources that will help make parenting in the pew both fruitful and enjoyable. I was encouraged by what another Pastor, Keith Collier, once said to me about parenting in the pew. He said “Training our kids how to worship is worship”. He explained that parents living out this high calling, as found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9, is a form of worship. If you are helping squirmy kids focus during a worship song that’s worship! If you are handing your child a worksheet that goes along with the sermon and are helping them complete it that’s worship! When other believers see you doing these things, regardless of how well it is going, the proper response should be “praise God that they are obeying the call to worship by training their kid in the Lord”. Since we understand that parenting in the pew is a tough task, we have compiled some tips to help you thrive in the process.
-Pray for your kids that they would be obedient and would have open minds, ears, and hearts when hearing God’s Word.
-Set expectations. Let your kids know that they and others are at a church gathering to worship the Lord and that it is important not to be a distraction. Explain that they have the opportunity to worship the Lord through obedience and a heart’s desire to learn about and grow closer to Jesus.
-Play some of your church’s worship songs in the car and teach them the lyrics.
-Teach about the various elements of the service, such as prayer and the offering.
-The night before, talk about last week’s sermon, and when possible give them a preview about what will be preached about the next day. Follow that up by praying as a family for a blessed Sunday of worship.
-Make sure that everyone gets a good night’s rest and a good breakfast. Prepare clothes and other items that night to allow for a more calm pre-church experience on Sunday morning.
-Bring a Bible, journal, and pencil for each child. In the children’s center you can also grab a worship bag with materials to use.
-Have the kids use the restroom prior to the worship service.
During the Worship Gathering
-Keep it interactive. Stand and sing with your kids. If they are young, holding them in your arms can work great. Allow them to place money in the offering plate. Encourage them to give of their own money. Help them open to the right page in their Bible.
-Be an encourager. Sit close to them and place a hand on their shoulder. Write notes from the sermon along with them. If they express being bored, encourage them that all people struggle at times during worship gatherings but people are blessed when they press on and worship the Lord.
-Have them write questions that come up during the sermon.
-Don’t give up. If things get out of hand, don’t worry, just quietly take them out to the atrium or restroom for a quick discussion. Remember that it is worship to train your kids to be lifelong worshippers and every mistake creates a teachable moment.
-Pray. God called us to train our children to follow Him and He will be with us as we try!
After the Worship Gathering
-Discuss the sermon and songs in the car.
-Ask them what they learned and what questions they have.
-Listen to worship music on the way home to continue the worship experience.
-End the day by reading the sermon passage with your kids at bedtime.
-Be encouraged that you are doing your best to parent in a way that honors Jesus and helps lead your kids toward a relationship with Jesus! Keep pressing on!
This article was originally written by Dave Zablocki for the 24/7 faith series at Normandale and has been adapted for this post. A big thanks to our friend Keith Collier at FBC Groesbeck for the input on this article.