Every church is different when it comes to kids in the service. Some bring the little ones in before they can talk. Others have children’s church until a certain age before the kids join their families in the pew. Regardless of what end of the spectrum you are on or whether or not your church falls somewhere in the middle, eventually children will attend church with their families.
Which leads us to the question at hand. How can we help our kids get the most out of the sermon?
We want our kids to grow in Christ and increase in their faith, but sometimes find it difficult to help them make the connection between the sermon and their daily life. You’re not alone. We are all sitting in the pews with the same struggles. So let’s roll up our sleeves and look at some practical ways to help our children get more out of the sermon.
5 ways to help your kids get more out of the sermon
Change your attitude
My pastor often says, “Repeat after me: The problem is me.” It always makes my kids chuckle, but it’s such a vital truth in our lives. The first step in any process, goal, or problem is to consider what we can personally do better. This is the case with helping your kids get more out of the sermon. Chances are, you’ve sent the wrong message about church, fostered negative behaviors, and possibly even been the root cause of a huge attitude issue in your kids.
But don’t worry. I’m not throwing you under the bus. We all struggle with this. Being aware of it is more than half the battle. Being willing to grow and change is the other. So, perhaps it’s time to change your attitude about church. Do you love God’s Word? Do you love listening to the sermon? Do your kids see this? Often our attitudes are marked by frustration, inconvenience, and stress. Don’t let that happen to your church experience.
If your kiddos are going to learn to love and enjoy the sermon, it all starts with your attitude about it!
Practical advice—> Read Psalm 139:1-10 and ask God to show you how your personal attitude needs to change. Ask Him to give you wisdom and discernment to know how to help your kiddos get more out of the sermons as you grow together in faith.
Expect big things and hold them accountable
Once you have a hold on your attitude, it’s time to work on theirs. Start by expecting big things. Don’t belittle their ability to grasp what is being discussed. Expect them to get a lot out of the sermon. You’ll be shocked at how effective high expectations are and how damaging low expectations can be. If you give your child a coloring book and say, “This will keep you busy/quiet during the sermon,” you may be sending a clear message that he/she is incapable of understanding and thus not going to be held accountable. You are likely also sending the message that church is boring and kids should be entertained.
I was that kid, entertained while in the pew and seeing little value in the sermon itself. Not only did I walk away from the church in college, I had almost no biblical truth in my heart to hold onto when times got tough in my life. Friend, does that shock you? After 18 years of attending church 3 times a week, I had very little to fall back on! That should shock and concern you as a Christian parent.
Oh what a mess this type of parenting has caused in our nation! Don’t you see it? Teens are walking away from the church because it’s not entertaining enough and we’ve not given them tools of faith to compel them to stay. So many of them are only satisfied if there is a gadget in one hand and a senseless movie on the screen. If we want our kids to be serious about God, we’re going to have to stop entertaining them to death.
This starts at church. Expect them to enjoy the sermon for what it is. Kids are naturally curious and the BEST way to teach them is by allowing them to hear excellent things. In all things, we should be expecting a little bit more than we believe they are ready to handle. This is what grows them spiritually, academically, and even emotionally! Plus, remember that you will be right there to help them. Which brings me to my next point…
Talk during the sermon
Yep, I totally just said that. I hereby give you permission to talk during the sermon. Lean over and explain those big words. Make connections to your family devotions or Bible reading at home. Whatever you do, make God’s Word real, active, and living in the lives of your kids. I promise, your pastor won’t get mad if you whisper something valuable to your kids while he is talking. (Just don’t talk about what you want for lunch or where you are going on vacation next month.)
Helping your kids make sense of the sermon is one of the most valuable ways to help them grow spiritually. Don’t miss the opportunity for fear of what others might think or say. If you go to a super quiet church (like mine) try sitting in the back or on the side if you are concerned about distracting others.
Give your kids tools to help them process the information
This is one of the keys to helping your child truly love church. In fact, you may have started reading this post already knowing how important your attitude is and greatly desiring to hold your kids accountable for what they learn in the sermon, but wondering how on earth to do that. I wish I had an easy answer for you. Every family, child, and church is different. There isn’t a one size fits all answer, but I do know we can use tools to help us with this process.
My kids have been carrying a sermon notebook for several years now. The goal of the notebook is to send the clear message that the content of the sermon is worth remembering.
How they remember isn’t necessarily going to be the same for each child. I’m not looking for perfect note-taking skills, neat handwriting, or the lack of doodling. In fact, I don’t even look at their notebooks. The simple fact of making them and getting them to church each day sends the message I want to convey. The rest can be done through other means like the sermon chat mentioned below.
You can find sermon note pages that simply help kids listen for key words. You can also find notebooks with detailed questions and in-depth formats. Do a little search on Pinterest and find one that works for you.
I actually created one myself. It has two versions. One for younger kids and one for older. I added a few bonus pages like prayer requests and favorite verses, then I made multiple pages and bound them in a notebook. If you’d like to learn more about how to get your own copy of those pages, click the image below.
Have regular sermon chats
The final step is to make sure you hold your kids accountable by asking them what they learned in the sermon. The easiest way to do that is a sermon chat. This is just a fancy way of saying “talk about the sermon.” And it’s truly all you need to do. Whether it’s in the car on the way home from church or over Sunday lunch, take a few minutes and talk through what you’ve learned.
Ask each family member to contribute something, but don’t ask for a complete recap. It’s better to ask for one take away. This way everyone has a chance to contribute and no one feels as though they can’t. Even little ones can give you something, anything they learned in the sermon. If you ask every single week, they will know to expect it and will learn to come prepared to talk.
Another strategy is to ask this question: “What are you going to do differently this week as a result of today’s sermon?” My kids love this one. It’s so much more than rehashing details. I’m actually asking them to take something they learned and make it work in their life. This is such a wonderful way to end a sermon for both kids and adults!
One word of caution. Don’t get too “spiritual” on your kids. If their take away from the sermon was that the preacher really loves the music pastor because of an interaction they had during the service, this is just as worthy as reviewing a main point from the sermon. Seeing faith lived out is the best way to make it real in your own life, so be careful not to assume one take away is better than another!
So what do you think? Have you tried any of these methods? Do you have other suggestions? Be sure to share them with us. Whatever you do, remember we are all a work in progress. Don’t be hard on yourself for failures. Simply keep walking humbly with the Lord!
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