More ideas on engaging children in worship

Some helpful tips that congregations are using to encourage people of all ages to worship together

“We don’t want to wait till adult years before giving people a chance to be part of the worshiping community,” says Carolyn C. Brown, an author and intergenerational ministry consultant.

Here’s how other congregations are helping people of all ages worship together

Give kids a worship role. Through fifth grade, many children at Fredericktown United Methodist Church in Ohio attend Junior Church. On fourth Sundays, they join their parents for the entire service. “So on the third Sunday of each month in Junior Church, music leaders work with the children on a song to sing in the worship services the next week,” Mary Elder says.

Involve kids in Scripture. Dave Poolman, pastor of Princeton Christian Reformed Church in Kentwood, Michigan, sometimes asks children or teens to read Scripture. “I will often do the introduction to the sermon with commentary, prior to reading the Scripture, either the whole passage or verse by verse, if that’s how the sermon will be developed,” he says.

Engage kids in sermons. Poolman knows that visuals get attention during sermons. He’s used a carving of Moses with the Ten Commandments, a clay lamp, and a projected image of Rembrandt’s painting “The Return of the Prodigal Son.” He recommends using Carolyn C. Brown’s book You Can Preach to the Kids, Too.

Charles Jansz says that some Dutch Reformed congregations in Sri Lanka include a children’s sermon weekly or monthly. Others, like Jansz’s church, reserve them for baptisms and special occasions. Jansz would like to do more children’s sermons. But there’s often not time, because many churches offer services in Sinhala, English, and Tamil, and most members depend on (often spotty) public transport. So Jansz makes sure the main sermon is relevant to kids.

Peter Bush, pastor of Knox Presbyterian Church in Mitchell, Ontario, directly appeals to kids during intergenerational services. “Spaced throughout the sermon, I sometimes say, ‘I need the help of the children right now. So if you can stop what you are working on for this question, you can help us,’ ” Bush says. He is co-author of Where 20 or 30 Are Gathered: Leading Worship in the Small Church.

At First Presbyterian Church in Larned, Kansas, Dennis Scheibmeir says, “I tend to follow the lectionary. I sometimes use Carolyn C. Brown’s Forbid Them Not: Involving Children in Sunday Worship to plan services.”

For Pentecost services, Carolyn C. Brown suggests preachers talk about something every kid cares about—birthday parties. Parents plan ballerina parties, sports parties, Harry Potter parties according to their child’s special interests. “At birthday parties we pay attention to what the birthday person is like. At Pentecost we pay attention to what’s special about the church,” she says.

Include kids in prayer. Poolman wants to do more with this. “The most we’ve done has been to take children’s prayer requests and pray about them during worship,” he says. Those requests don’t come often, but Poolman knows it takes time for children (and everyone else) to see themselves as full participants in worship.

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