Keeping Kids Engaged

How do you keep kids engaged during church? We offered some insight into this in an earlier post, but this is a huge struggle for many families in the church. Perhaps your church doesn’t have children’s activities or maybe the activities stop once they get past fourth grade – whatever the situation, I believe this tool can help.

You’re sat in the pew looking around and you see a church full of well-behaved kids following the sermon in their Bibles while yours are fighting over some construction paper and a straw – yeah right! Every family endures challenges when the time comes for their children to sit through a sermon – you are not alone.

There are many different strategies, that people apply at different times. Some will give their children anything to keep them quiet and prevent disruptions so as to not distract people from worship. We alluded to our belief in the previously mentioned article that parenting your children in the context of a Sunday morning is worship itself, and in most churches people get that.

It has been said that a child can remain focused for roughly a minute for every year old they are – so your eight year old has about 8 minutes of solid focus in them, give or take. Now we noticed that a lot of our elementary students loved to draw, some were better than others at remaining “on topic” but given their ability to focus for a shorter period that is understandable. That led us to create this:

Sermon Notes A

We wanted to create a tool that we could put in the hands of parents that would help them disciple their children. We only offer activities for kids during services up to third grade, and even then some of our third graders opt to remain in service. It’s important that ministry leaders realize their role does not end there. Part of our vision is to partner with parents as we raise children that are fully functioning members of the church congregation. This helps us do it.

We sought feedback from parents, colleagues at different churches and in the end tailored the resource to our kids. There are questions for the kids to respond to, some will be able to engage in depth and others may write a word or two. They then have a large space with which to draw something related to what they’re learning about. Here is my example:

Sermon Notes B

Obviously, my artwork is slightly fabricated and not my own, but the structure is there for kids and families to achieve success. Many churches would expect teenagers to be able to take notes during services – you see this at youth camps over the summer. But how can they if we don’t scaffold the process for them?

My advice: print several of these sheets. Sacrifice your usual note-taking method as a parent and fill one of these in yourself one Sunday morning to show your kids how it can look. Next week, do it together – with both yourself and your children filling a sermon notes page in. After several weeks you can resume your normal practices and your child is more confident to pursue note taking in the way you have shown them.

Can you imagine the power of putting your child’s sermon notes page before them later on in that week and reviewing together what you learned as a family at church that week? Praying about what they wrote they wanted to pray about? Answering the questions they wrote down (which otherwise by now they probably would’ve forgotten about)? I believe there is power in this tool, and I’d encourage you to try it.

If you’d like a copy please email me at jared@normandale.org

– Jared Simpson

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