Every now-and-then our church invites the children to come to the main service. We call it a “family service,” and many of our children’s ministries are shut down that day. This post is not about how to program a “child-friendly” service. Instead this is about getting parents on board with sharing a service with their children. Often times it’s been my observation that when parents and children share a service together it ends up that parents spend the entire time shoveling incentives and distractions at their kids to get them to behave until service is over. Families who take this course may miss out on an opportunity to lead their children in developing a more mature faith. Here are four things we can do as ministry leaders to prepare families for bringing their children to the main service:
Almost anything can be successful if you communicate well. Weeks before we have a “family service”, we make sure to inform parents. We want to avoid families walking into church and unexpectedly finding out that their child(ren) will be sitting with them. We also want to encourage parents to have discussions with their children ahead of time so they are prepared to participate in the main service.
Motivating parents is not a one-time shot. It’s a consistent element in your family ministry. You must motivate, enlighten and encourage parents to take ownership of their roles as primary spiritual leaders of their children. Often parents fully depend on the pastoral staff to be the spiritual leaders. I’ve learned that in order for parents to embrace their roles as spiritual leaders, they must be motivated to step up. Give them clear vision and solid inspiration to be the primary spiritual leaders for their kids.
Prepare parents to model faith during the service. Modeling is the best way to lead children in the faith. Watching dad sing worship songs, mom take notes on the sermon or seeing big sister/brother pray are some of the easiest ways to model faith to a child. Prepare parents to model their faith during the service through active participation.
Prepare a “Plan B”
Even the best spiritual parents and the most well-behaved kids have bad days. It’s important to realize that children are still growing, developing and maturing. So it’s crucial to have a “plan b” in case a child gets restless. In our church we have two resources: 1) Family room: This space provides a live feed of the service and some toys/activities to occupy restless children. 2) Coloring and activity sheets that help point the child to the Bible story being shared in the sermon. It is important to remember that these elements should not be a first resort to occupy kids during the service but remain as a “plan b” option for families.
The whole family worshiping God together is a beautiful thing. Not only does the family establish faith memories together but the children begin to reflect their parents’ faith and develop their own heart for worship. How about you, are there any elements or tips that you’ve employed to create an all-family church service?