It’s a new school year and a great time to develop new good habits. At my congregation, everyone is together for the first half of services. We sing and pray together, then take communion. Following this, our K-3rd graders are dismissed to Children’s Church. But what about my fourth and fifth graders, or even the middle school kids? I looked around the auditorium disappointed. Kids galore were playing on digital devices, some wearing headphones and others simply had the volume muted. They were not learning about God nor were they learning how to behave properly in a worship service during a sermon. Granted, the sermon is above their little heads, but it still a great time to learn how to listen. What to do about it…
Not everyone is on board yet, but I will keep working on it with both the kids and their parents. I saw a number of “sermon notes” options for kids but none that hit all the areas I really wanted to zoom in on. I want kids to listen for scriptures, for things they don’t understand and things they think are interesting. I developed sermon notes pages just for them that I’m happy to share with you. Each week I print out new copies for them to pick up before services. I’ve even got a 3-hole punch next to the forms in case they would like to keep these notes in a binder. I plan on asking our preacher to remind them to pull these out when it’s time to pay attention. By directly talking to them from the pulpit, they are included and will feel important. I’m hoping this helps get them involved.
Now for the part that is required to get participating in something they really don’t want to- incentive! Honestly, I don’t like this part, but it’s important. Think about it. You are starting a new diet. You want to lose weight or get fit but it’s never easy in the beginning. By incentivizing yourself with a small treat at certain points, you work hard to meet that goal. It’s part of being human… we will chase the carrot if we want it badly enough. Back to the kids. After the sermon, we have an invitation song. During that song, kids who have completed their sermon notes form can be the first to exit to the foyer where they find me with prizes. They can choose from pencils, trinkets, gum and more. I keep these things very inexpensive. (Another thought is playground time. They would have 5 minutes on the playground with friends while services wrapped up and parents pick them up.)
I would love to hear ideas of how you get kids listening and learning how to worship. Comment hear or feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org