Hopefully, you have heard a lot about kids being in worship once a month, starting in September. We are really excited about this change, but I’m sure some of you might still have some concerns.
I wanted to provide you with some tips on how to make this a positive experience (for you and your child). Oftentimes, our attitude in presenting an idea determines whether our kids will have a good experience about something or not. I learned this lesson early on in my teaching career. I was working at a preschool, and the director of the preschool was trying to teach me this concept. To demonstrate her point, she had the entire class (3-4 year-olds) to lie down on their back and count the holes in the ceiling tiles. Sounds like a pretty unexciting activity, but the way she presented it to the kids was full of excitement. She conveyed her excitement to the kids, giving high fives for correct counting, etc. The kids thought that counting holes in the ceiling tiles was the most fun thing they could have done that afternoon. Lesson learned for me – if we present something as exciting, the kids are more likely to think the activity will be exciting.
Let’s apply that to worship. If you as the parent present the idea of them attending worship as something that they will have to sit perfectly still for more than an hour while they listen to someone else talk, etc. they will probably not be very excited about it. However, if you present it as an exciting opportunity that they are finally old enough to participate in, there will be more excitement. If you are truly looking forward to worship, and you convey this excitement to your kids, they are more likely to come ready to worship God as well. Maybe we all should start with an attitude check of our own heart: Are we eager to go to worship or are we going through the motions? Are we profoundly grateful for the saving work of Christ on the cross, or are we just being religious by habit or culture?
So, what can you do to help prepare your heart, as well as the heart of your child to worship? You can read the Scripture passage that Nate (or one of the other pastors) will be preaching from during the week. If kids are familiar with it, they will better be able to understand what is being said about the passage as well. You can encourage them to take notes during the sermon. As Brian mentioned in his post, that note taking may start off as picture drawing with a young child about something they heard from the sermon. It will eventually develop into keywords and maybe even an outline. We will provide you with a kid-friendly outline for your child to take notes on.
Some practical tips: Visit the bathroom and/or water fountain before you enter the worship service. Make sure you pick up the children’s hand-out and have a pen/pencil ready for your child to use. If you are serving in the choir, orchestra, teaching a class, etc. then your children will be more than welcome to sit with me. If the same child is present for both worship services, then we will have a special class for them during the 10:45 service that I will teach.
More than anything, keep in mind, that we know it is sometimes hard to pay attention to God and children at the same time. We know they can be aggravating and even embarrassing in church (Thanks Brian for the personal story of your son doing the Macarena!) But training your children to pay attention to God can be a very rewarding experience, as well as one that helps you pay attention to what is really important. We want the children at Foothills to grow and develop in a loving relationship with Jesus, and we think corporate worship is an important part of that process!