Sometimes the difference for children between enduring Sunday morning services and enjoying Sunday morning services is simply a matter of preparation and training. It is our heartfelt prayer that your child will come as a participant in the service to worship our great God. To that end, we have prepared a few suggestions that might help you lead your child to worship.
Be prepared for worship. Sunday morning worship begins on Saturday night. Lay out clothes (find all shoes!), get offerings ready, rehearse memory verses, gather together everything you need to bring with you, etc. before Sunday morning. Keep Sunday simple. Make a simple breakfast and leave the house with time to spare. Remind your child of your expectations of his behavior during the church service.
Be a role model for your child. Start your morning with a positive attitude, a cheerful tone, a spirit of anticipation and enthusiasm, and a heart for worship.
Walk your child through the service before it starts. Look over the bulletin. Point out what will be happening and how your child can participate. This may mean teaching him a refrain of a responsive reading, or teaching him a phrase from a song or chorus and asking him to listen for it. You may also want to pray with your child before the service starts.
Pray for your child. Pray not only that your child will learn to participate and listen attentively, but that her heart would be inclined to the Lord.
Encourage your child to participate in the service. By teaching your child hymns and worship songs at home, he will be able to participate in this service. If he cannot learn the whole hymn/song, teach him the chorus and signal to him when it is time to sing the part he knows. Encourage your child to sit and to stand at the appropriate times, to clap when appropriate, etc. Have your child bring an offering and place it in the offering box. Show your child how to find the sermon text in his Bible and how to follow along when scripture is being read.
Help your child become an active sermon listener. Help your child focus on the sermon by quietly whispering to her (e.g., “Listen to this story,” “Can you draw a picture of…?”). This is not a time of long instruction, just very short statements to focus her attention. It is also not a time for your child to whisper back to you. Encourage a younger child to listen to the sermon and to draw a picture of something from the sermon. If your young child has a hard time sitting for a long time, you may want to let her listen for a little while then look at small (non-distracting) Bible storybooks.
Stretch your child’s ability to sit still and be attentive. If you have an active child, you may need to take your child out of the service partway through. Keep stretching the time until he can sit through the whole service. You may need to be firm. Affirm positive behavior.
Talk about the service on the way home. Speak positively with your child about the service, and ask her if she has any questions. Encourage her to share her drawings or notes.