Strategies for sharing Worship with Children

Listening to someone for 15-20 minutes without interruptions takes practice – especially when the topic is something that we don’t know much about. Children can learn how to do it with support and with some tools to help them succeed.

Most people, regardless of age, have moments when they ‘tune out’ during a sermon or service. Often we will listen intently until a relevant point sends us off into our own thoughts. Then we consciously return to listen intently again when another point or aspect calls us back.

It’s not surprising that children do the same thing. We can help them learn how to tune in and out.  We can also help children connect the sermon to their own lives.  Some strategies include:

Keep an open and supportive attitude. Share your reasons for attending worship with your child. Let them know that you’re excited to hear the message from the Minister and that enjoy participating as a family.

Encourage your child to listen but try not to stress if their attention wonders.  Provide some manipulatives to keep little hands busy while they listen. You might be surprised how much children ‘hear’ when you think they’re otherwise occupied.

Choose the manipulatives thoughtfully. Avoid books or electronic games which can engage the child’s mind as well as their hands. Listening to a sermon is an active thought process.

Listen for sermon “Take Aways” and “Windows” so you can talk about them with your children on the ride home.

A sermon “Take Away” is something important the minister said that you want to remember or learn more about. It could be an idea, a story, or a quote.

A “Window” is something the minister says that sparks a connection to something going on in your life. It may help you think about it in a different way or lead to new insight.

Talk about the sermon in the car on the way home. Share some of your sermon “take aways” and “windows” with your children and ask your children about theirs.  These car conversations may not feel natural or easy at first, but over time this can become a treasured few minutes during an otherwise hectic week. Your children will learn to value this time with you and these conversations as much as you.