Family Worship at Church
Resources

Practical Family Ideas

These are just some practical ideas to help you start thinking and conversing about what a Sunday family routine might look like in your family. We know that each child and each family is unique. The important thing would be to start discussing how we as parents can be intentional with our children. 

  • Encourage a sense of excitement that Sunday is coming!
  • Positive attitude modeling: we “get to” vs. “have to” go to church. “It’s Sunday today!” (Psalm 122:1)
  • Patterns of preparation: set out clothes, set out bags, set out Bibles, get up earlier, etc.
  • Pack in advance: Bibles, pencils, journals/notebooks, snacks, quiet toys, etc.
  • Talk about service elements at home: what they mean, why they’re important, what is expected.
  • Help children participate during the service so they feel a part of it: singing, finding Scripture passages, finding hymn number, bringing offering, taking notes or copying yours, following along in service order, etc.
  • Set patterns that you want to continue: For instance, noisy and disobedient behavior should not equal playtime in the nursery or anything else that a child would consider being “better” than staying in the service.
  • Separate certain children by sitting between them if they seem to be quarrelsome that morning.
  • Set a good example: children learn much just by watching
  •  Have a quick chat before the service to gently remind them of the purpose in attending church, share expectations, and give them things to look forward to in the coming morning.
  • Have a quick chat after the service to connect and share about what God used to impact you during the morning.
  • Get good sleep the night before!
  • In many ways, family worship in church actually begins at home. Preparation, training, discipline, understanding, respect, family devotions, etc. What we do during the week matters!
  • Help your children during the week to become more familiar with some of the elements in the service:
  • Memorize together: the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostle’s Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Books of the Bible
  • Teach your children how to look up Scripture passages
  • Learn familiar hymns and songs together
  • Discuss tithing and how they might participate
  • Prayer requests

Challenge:  
Pray (for your family and changes you might make)
Plan (make one)
Prepare (as best you can)
Practice! (regular church attendance)

The ultimate goal is not just to get your child to “sit still and be quiet!”, although that’s helpful. 

We want the child to get a sense of something big, something worthwhile, of Somebody so great and powerful, Somebody so loving, that people would come together to think about Him and talk about Him and to speak with Him. God must be important. God IS important.


Age-Specific Ideas For Children in Sunday Worship

Approach: Not always an immediate result, but a long-term view

INFANTS:

  • Pack diaper bag the night before
  • Try to feed baby right before leaving the house
  • Choose an appropriate service time (if it works) around naps, etc in which you increase your chances of successfully staying in the service
  • When feeding/diapering needs arise, watch/listen via tv in “nursing mother’s room” or with speakers in narthex

TODDLERS:

  • Start the morning making them excited to go to church
  • Pack a small bag of quiet toys/books to keep their hands busy
  • Pack a quiet, clean snack and save it as a last resort (try a container that makes them eat it slow—like a pill box)
  • Again, if you can, choose an appropriate service time
  • Require them to go to the bathroom before the servicePrepare them before the service by talking about your expectations of them and explain things that will happen (short and sweet)
  • During the service, have them very near you (or in your lap) so you can closely supervise them and occasionally whisper in their ear about what’s going on in the service (“now we will stand and sing”, “close your eyes, the pastor is praying now”)
  • Teach respect for others (“we must not be loud, so-and-so can’t hear the pastor”)
  • Teach good habits (no kicking the pew in front, not turning around, etc.) Leaving the service for bad behavior should not be considered “fun”
  • Tell them afterward what they did a good job at and be ever so happy about it!If there were things you can’t ignore, bring those things up too and then remind them about it next week right before the service (“remember last week when you were kicking the pew in front of you? Remember not to do that this time, ok?”)

AGES 4-5ish:

  • Pack only a few things (less toyish) for them to do, but explain to them “I want you to see how long you can sit quietly without using anything. Then, only if you need something to make it through, you may, but only during the message. The rest of the service you can participate.” The goal being, not to need a “toy” at all. Make them feel proud to be old enough to listen without anything. No snacks.
  • Try having a notebook for them to copy notes or words from the screen.Whisper as needed to encourage participation.
  • By this age, if there is a need to take them out for bad behavior (not something legitimate) discipline/correct them and go right back to the service. Leaving should not be considered “fun”.

AGES 6 and UP:

  • No toys, no snacks.
  • Strongly encourage taking notes, listening, singing, praying, and participating in general
  • Remind them of the purpose of the service
  • Make expectations very clear and be consistent about upholding them (sometimes they literally need to be told to stand up or sing with the congregation)
  • Discuss the service and the message with them on the way home or at lunch and let each person share what “stuck out to them”. Be positive! No lectures! Just let them talk and open communication up. Sometimes questions they have come out at this time. Just converse about it, again, no lectures! Briefly share your heart/thoughts as well (short and sweet so you don’t lose them)

 Our Church Provides:

  • Busy bags
  • Scripture passages for the upcoming message via email
  • Order of service in bulletin
  • TV in “nursing mother’s room”
  • Speakers in the narthex
  • Insert in the bulletin for sermon notes and prayer requests
  • Emailed prayer requests