By now, your church has probably regathered in some format, either outside the building in cars or lawn chairs or inside the worship center with modifications for social distancing.
Many churches will wait until fall to reopen children’s ministry areas. If your church is regathering inside the building, chances are it will reopen with “family worship,” which means no preschool, children’s church or children’s small groups.
What does this mean to a pastor or worship leader who needs to plan for congregants of all ages? Consider these ideas to make your service more “family friendly.”
- Use visual and verbal cues to mark the different parts of the service. Ideas include lighting candles, verbal expressions such as call and responses, and videos or slides on the screen. Help children engage in worship with all of their senses.
- Allow children to lead in worship by reading Scripture or offering prayers. If your church has either Awana or Bible Drill, allow children to lead in worship by repeating Scripture they learned this past year.
- Add simple motions to songs. Clap the beat to upbeat songs.
- Honor routine.
- Explain why we do what we do at church, such as the offering, baptism, reciting creeds or the Lord’s Supper.
- If your church has stained glass windows that depict Bible stories, use these for the basis for a sermon series.
- Call attention to the virtual curriculum lessons being sent home each week to help parents understand the significance of their at-home discipleship.
- Use conversational teaching during the sermon. Ask questions that families can discuss during the meeting time.
- Offer opportunities for children to verbally “fill in the blank.”
- Have everyone stand for the reading of Scripture.
- Memorize Scripture as a church. Practice during the service time.
- Encourage children to find Scripture in the Bible before showing it on screens.
- Tell personal stories.
- Reduce the sermon/service time.
- Break the sermon into sections and add music or activity between each section.
- Use object lessons that explain and clarify teaching points.
- Offer a clear, concrete call to action in which families can engage the following week.
- If your church will provide a designated area for infants or small children, make plans to sanitize this area frequently. Limit the number of toys and porous surfaces.
- Explain the need for grace and welcome to adults who may not appreciate the presence of children in the service.
Here are some additional ideas to help families prepare for worship.
- Create and send a video that explains what will happen during worship that parents can use to prepare their children for church.
- Send families links to worship songs that will be sung on Sunday morning and encourage parents to sing these with their children in the preceding week.
- Pastors can engage with children online in a more informal setting to build relationships by reading or telling a story, playing a game, sharing a snack or answering questions.
- If your church is not providing printed material during this time, send the worship bulletin electronically for parents to print and bring to the service.
- Remind parents to prepare for Sunday by having a restful Saturday evening.
- Offer quiet activities or pre-packaged snacks for children.
Lifelong habits are made during childhood. Make corporate worship a place where children feel welcome and appreciated to create positive memories and habits. Remember, family worship is an investment in the future of the children and your church.