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Worshiping Together as a Family
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family in worship

Posted by Bobette Hatteberg, Children's Ministry Director

 

As a parent, the start of the school year always caused me to pause and reflect on my children’s growth: the areas they had been growing in and the areas that we still needed to address as parents. This was especially true in their spiritual growth.

 

One area in which we need to help our children grow is in learning how to worship God corporately. Last fall we began purposefully including our elementary-aged children in the Sunday morning worship service once a month – parents sitting side by side with their children in worship. This provides a vital time to teach children by our own example the value and meaning of worship. Children have the opportunity to see how mom and dad worship – how they sing praises to God with joy and energy, how they listen intently to the Word of God, how they bow their heads in humility during prayer.

 

Here are some ways you can help your children grow in their participation during corporate worship:

  • Use opportunities throughout the week to teach your child what it means to worship
    • Teach them to be quiet and reverent during the meal time prayer.
    • Teach them to sit and listen intently when you read them a devotion or a Bible story or Scripture verses.
    • Teach them to pray before bedtime, helping them learn the different parts of prayer such as adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication.
  • Talk about how our behavior during the worship service should be one of respect, reverence, and participation.
    • During the week role-play the behaviors you want to see from them during the service. (e.g. eyes closed during prayer, singing joyfully during praise and worship, sitting quietly during the message.)
    • Talk about the different parts of the service and how they can participate in each one. (e.g. praise and worship, pastoral prayer, offering, announcements, sermon)
    • Talk about your expectations of them during the service (e.g. Sit or stand or close eyes when the service calls for it, sit quietly, keep papers as quiet as possible, look toward the person speaking, etc.)
  • Teach your child how to take notes. Use one of the children’s bulletins and go over how they can use those during the service.
  • If your child becomes especially disruptive during the service and gentle signals and reminders are not effective, you may have to leave the service briefly to talk with your child or to discipline them. If they are responsive to your correction have them return to the service to demonstrate that repentance. If you are concerned that they have not responded well to your correction you might sit in the foyer together, training them to sit quietly as if you all were still in the sanctuary.
  • Help your child become acquainted with the people who lead worship.
    • Have your child greet the pastor after service.
    • Talk about who the worship leaders, readers, etc. are during the service, calling them by name.
  • Prepare for Sunday worship by learning the memory verse and if you know the Scripture passage for the coming Sunday, read it together several times during the week. Even young children will be excited when they hear familiar words on Sunday.
  • Sing some of our church’s praise and worship songs at home during family time. The more a song becomes familiar to a child the easier it will be for them to participate.
  • Talk about the service afterwards. Discuss things such as what the songs taught us about God’s character, who we should pray for as a family based on who was mentioned during the pastoral prayer, and a few main points from the sermon.
  • Prepare for the service by taking your child to the restroom before the service starts. Remind them that leaving the service will only be reserved for emergencies.
  • Apply something from the service together. Work on a specific area of character mentioned during the sermon. Send a card or take a meal to someone mentioned during family prayer.
  • Help your child grow in their participation. A 1st grader might draw pictures of what he hears during the sermon. A 3rd grader might write down words they hear repeated during the sermon as well as fill in the outline. An early reader can follow along in their Bible when Scripture is read.
  • Choose seats that will help your child participate. That may mean separating siblings who provoke each other easily. It may mean sitting closer to the front so they can see the lyrics better.
  • Encourage your child when you see them participating in ways you have taught. In areas where they still need to grow, remind them prior to the service of those things.

Worshipping together as a family is exciting and full of learning opportunities. Do something today to help prepare your children for worship on Sunday!



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