- Posted by Julee Huy
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As we head into Family Worship, I wanted to share a couple of practical things that I’ve done to help support my kids as they sit through service. These are the things that work for me and my children and are in no way a mandate for all. I share these things in hopes that they may help guide you as you pray and prepare for Family Worship.
A good Sunday morning service begins Saturday night. Leave yourself some time to lay out clothes, breakfast, bibles, and activities – everything you’ll need and don’t want to forget on Sunday morning. I like to wake up in plenty of time to get myself ready and start the morning off well with the kids. I make sure everyone eats a good breakfast that’s low in sugar, has a good protein/carb balance, and includes a glass of water. Hungry kids will act out. Thirsty kids act out. Kids on a sugar high or a sugar crash will act out.
When I arrive at church, I make sure to have everyone go to the bathroom before service starts. I make sure they have everything they need before we sit down. This prevents anticipated requests to leave during the service.
EXPECT THEM TO PARTICIPATE
Our time during worship sets the tone for the service, so I try to have my kids looking forward and singing, preferable without leaning all of the chairs in front of them. This way, they aren’t distracted by everything going on around and behind them. There’s no making faces at neighbors, crawling under seats. I try to instill in them that this is our time to worship as a family.
When it’s time to pray, the littles are taught to fold their hands. This signals to them that it’s time to stop all activity, be still, be quiet and close their eyes. Whether they understand the prayer or not, they learn to go through the process with the rest of God’s church.
Each child has their own small bible, even if they can’t read. I prefer bibles without pictures as this is just a distraction. When the body stands for the reading of God’s word, they stand. They stand with their bibles open and turned to the right passage. All this helps to reinforce in them the importance of their bibles.
BREAK UP THE SERMON TIME FOR KINESTHETIC LEARNING
During the main teaching, I break up the entire teaching time into specific increments, this way I know how long the kids and I need to work on a particular goal. My goal is to teach them to sit still, listen to a speaker and interact with the lesson being taught.
For the first increment, we sit all the way back in our chairs and look at the person speaking. After about 15 minutes, I begin to draw the sermon for them in my notebook. I’ll also draw out shapes, their names, something to have them interact with the lesson and keep them engaged.
Having a specific time increment planned ahead helps me know how long to engage them in this.
After they’ve sat through part of the sermon and interacted with the text, we move on to coloring. The kids sit on the floor with their legs crossed. I recently purchased simple lap desks to aid with this. After they’re sitting correctly, I pass them a coloring sheet based on the text we’re in and crayons or colored pencils. I find that detailed coloring pages and colored pencils work best because it takes them longer to color and keeps them engaged longer.
After 15 minutes of coloring (some kids have to be instructed to keep coloring for the entire time), everything is put away and a small set of beading supplies come out. This is just a single pipe cleaner per child and enough beads for one pipe cleaner. These activities take us all the way to ending worship time, but if it didn’t we could also incorporate other quiet activities. I request proper sitting and quietness of my kids during this time, there is no looking under chairs, climbing around, just quiet activity.
If a child is being loud or difficult enough that they’re disrupting the service, I take them out of the service and ask them to sit with me quietly outside or in the mother’s room. While the environment then changes, I don’t change the requirement to sit still, pay attention, follow our plan, and quietness. The mother’s room then is not a reward to get out of service, but simply a place where I’m able to better guide and direct my child without disturbing others.
Again, all of this is a learning process and takes time. Each of my children are at differing levels and I try to meet them there, as well as guide them a little further along. Take some time to think about what would be feasible to ask of your child and how you also might train and guide them further, with more experience. Remember that the goal is that you, as well as your children, learn how to worship and be in fellowship together in a way that is meaningful and in a way that glorifies God. Be gracious to your children and to the children around you as we are all learning and growing along the way!