Children in Church


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Holly at Seeking Faithfulness got me to thinking about this when she posted on it, and I remembered something that has worked for me in the past.

I actually need to pull this trick out of my bag again to control the wiggles during worship service.

Our children all sit with us throughout the entire worship service and we expect them to participate in every aspect of the worship, as far as they are able. The oldest ones can turn in their Bibles to the scriptures mentioned and to the correct page in the song book, and all but the baby can sing praises, bow their heads, and stand and sit when appropriate.

I give each of the oldest (ages 7, 10, and 12) a little notebook in which I have written words that I expect to hear in the sermon. These might include: God, Jesus, forgiveness, scriptures, holy, repent, etc.

I tell them to make tally marks whenever they hear the preacher mention one of the words I have written. This encourages them to really tune in to what is being spoken and actively listen to the word of God.

If they are old enough and able to take notes (the 10 and 12 yr. old), I ask them to jot down scriptures mentioned, main ideas, and so forth.

After church, we discuss the sermon and the scriptures referenced. They really seem to benefit from actively listening for those key words that I wrote in their little notebooks. It helps them to focus and think about the sermon instead of daydreaming or asking me 13 times what time it is.

Back in my younger parenting days when I only had 2 or 3 children, I would load up a bag with crayons, coloring books, little puzzles, snacks, and lots of stuff that I thought would keep them busy during worship. Then I started to realize that I was only encouraging them to think of it as a playtime, and a boring one at that. I wanted them, instead, to think of it as a time to actually worship and listen to the words being read from the Bible.

The youngest ones can have little stickers or pictures of Bibles, Jesus, heaven, crosses, etc. in their notebooks that they can circle when they hear those words mentioned.

These are the things that have worked for me while having my children in church, and I really don’t remember why I stopped doing this. I will definitely be going back to it again starting on Sunday.

Check out Rocks in my Dryer for more great tips!

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Comments

  1. What a brilliant idea! Our boys are usually in children’s church, but occasionally they need to be with us during the service – thanks so much for this great idea – I can’t wait to try it out.
    Thanks! Tanya

  2. Christa @ No End in Site says:

    I love the idea of a notebook with tally marks. When my kids get a bit bigger, I’m going to “steal” your idea. About a year ago, we realized the same thing about the crayons and paper and ditched them. Our kids are 4, 3, almost 2 and 8 months. It’s hard, but they all sit with us during the service and only get taken out if they start to fuss loudly. We’re the only ones at our church who do it this way, but we think it’s best! Thanks again.

  3. Happy House Quilts says:

    this is wonderful!!! I will try it sunday!!!

  4. I love the tally marks! Notebooks and pens are the only thing we take for our kids (2,4,7) and they mostly just scribble in them. But the tally marks make a great transition from doodling to actually taking notes. Thanks!

  5. What a clever idea, I’m trying this out on Sunday.

  6. I do this with my 7 year old. It’s a great idea. He looks forward to seeing what words he is to listen for during the sermon. I never thought about having a notebook, I usually just use the back of the bulletin. Ann’Re

  7. In our church, everyone attends the worship service, so that means all the kids are in there. Many parents seem to have the same idea as you did when you were younger, loading up the bag with things to keep them busy, but not paying attention in service. This is not something we plan on doing when we have children; we’ll be aiming for what you did/do.

  8. (Jim &) Brandy Brow says:

    I completely agree about what crayons or toys into the sanctuary during church time conveys to kids. We have a challenge with this right now because there is nothing during the sermon for our elementary age children (which is the majority of them). They hand out children’s bulletins with Christian activities, but only one of my kids does it, and it still doesn’t get her listening to the sermon.

    Half of the crew (6 kids) are not pencil-pushers and struggle with written language in capability and attention span, so I’m not sure your tally method would work since my 8 year old literally can’t sit still without fidgeting and my oldest (almost 13) simply won’t. (Both have ADHD.)

    If you have any ideas for how to help ADHD kids sit through church, please hail me at my blog (my e-mail is listed in the sidebar).

    Thanks for this post.

    Brandy of The Building Brows

  9. Wonderful ideas, Connie! You are right that worship time should be shown as a time to pay attention and not be distracted by lots of other activities. I especially like the notebook idea with the words you expect to hear!

  10. good ideas for when we don’t have children’s church!

  11. In Light of the Truth... says:

    I can’t wait to try this when my children are older. For now, how do you get the baby to sit in church?? I have a very active 14-month old who doesn’t for even 30 seconds sit in my lap EVER. I’ve been to the Raising Godly Tomatoes website http://www.raisinggodlytomatoes.com/ and read about this but don’t know how to go about it. What’s your success?? I would LOVE to hear from you!

  12. SAHMmy Says says:

    Great tips–I’ll have to keep them in mind for when my kiddos are a little older. Our church’s Sunday School is held at the same time as the sermon, but when my son is 5 or so (he’s 3 now) I plan to have him sit in church with us. I think it’s important that children learn to actively (but quietly!) participate in the Sunday service alongside adults.

  13. Really great idea! Right now our three year old is still at the coloring stage (not really recognizing words) but I hadn’t thought about pictures for her to listen for.

    I’m definitely going to try this with my almost six year old.

  14. We use this idea too! Each of my children have a white 1 inch thick notebook with their names on it that has a pencil pouch and a notebook in it and the oldest (9) is expected to take notes, my 7 yo is expected to write down all of the bible verses mentioned (I have a printed list in the front of his binder with the spelling and abreviations of the books of the bible.) and we get competitive with him and say, “Wow do you think you could write down 10 verses?” This seems to appeal to him. These older 2 sit in the pew in front of us and then behind sit hubby and I, 5 yo and 2 yo. 5 yo notebook contains pages of printed bible words that she traces and then tallies when she hears the word. 2 yo notebook contains a pad of the Crayola wonderbooks, I think that is what they are called – the marker paper that the markers will write on but not anything else?? With the 2 yo we try to get her to copy our words but mainly she just scribbles. I too started out with a bag full of tricks, but that didn’t seem to be getting to the heart of the matter. Oh and one last thing 5 yo is anxiously awaiting to move up to the big pew when she can find her own pages in the song book! Thanks for a great wfmw connnie. I like the idea of printing out pictures for the kids to circle, I’m going to try that with 5 yo this Sunday. Elizabeth

  15. What a GREAT idea! I have a church bag that has a spiral notebook for each child and a baggie of markers. I usually let them color during the sermon, and they also get a snack during this time. I try to encourage the older one to read along in the liturgy, and sing during the songs. The younger ones say the liturgy where they know it, and also participate in the prayers. I think I will try the tally thing this week! Thanks for the great idea!
    Blessings-Andie

  16. Great ideas! My baby is still too young for most of them (she’ll be 1 next week) but I’ll keep that in mind for the future! I definitely get distracted when parents aren’t keeping their kids controlled, so I’ve already been thinking of strategies for when Wendy is older.

  17. You’re a genius! Can’t wait to try this ~

    http://tonsofsons.wordpress.com/

  18. These are great ideas!! Thank you for sharing- this is something most people can use.

  19. What a great idea!

    Have a nice week!

  20. I love these ideas. I will definately try these with my two boys (8 & 6) this week. They both sit quietly with us in our Worship Service, but usually just doodle on paper. This is a great way to get them involved in listening to the sermon. Thanks so much.

  21. These are outstanding ideas! I am so excited to hear that you keep your children with you and engaged during worship. This is something I aspire to but it always seemed too difficult. Thanks for the suggestions.

  22. Wow, great tips. We have been struggling with the “church-time wiggles” lately.

    BTW, I have something for you.

    http://www.homesteadblogger.com/findingcontentment/70318/You+Make+Me+Smile+Award.html

    Barb J.

  23. Mrs. Brownstone says:

    I really love the idea of giving them words to tally mark!

    Thank you so much for sharing – I can’t wait to try it this Sunday!

  24. Veggiemomof2 says:

    Wonderful idea! We have no other option for kids once they’ve graduated Kindergarten, but one of the ladies in church makes special bulletins for the kids that have activites in them pertaining to the sermon. Works well for my ADHD/Autistic son.

  25. Thanks for the tip. I have my children in church but the sticker idea would work great.

  26. I tried this tip this past Sunday! It worked!!! My son is 12 years old and has ADHD. It is very difficult for him to sit through the service and that makes it hard for us to focus on what the pastor is saying. He really took to this though and proudly presented me with the list I had given him along with some words he had added himself! Thanks for the tip!
    Michelle

  27. What a wonderful idea! I may have to use it!

  28. Great ideas- I am going to give the notebook a try next week! Thanks for the help!

  29. Anonymous says:

    Hi! I was looking for ideas on notes for children during service, and I came across your blog. Thanks, everyone, for the ideas. I work at a church, and we have our children in the service with us, and I’ve been trying to come up with a more generic page for kids to use. (Right now we use a more detailed page for the kids that, while about the sermon topic, doesn’t necessarily dictate that they actually listen to the service.) I took some of the ideas I saw and incorporated them with some things we have been using in our church service to create these note taking pages. I made one for younger kids/ beginning readers and one for older kids (upper elementary, possibly through youth, though my pastor is suggesting that even adults use them). I posted them on our church website if you’d like to use them. Also, if you would like an editable version, I would be happy to e-mail it to you. If you use them, I would really love any feedback you have (Do they work? Any ideas for improvement? etc.)

    Thanks again for the ideas!! :)

    In Him,
    Christie
    (children@hubchurch.org)

    Website link for younger kids:
    http://www.hubchurchmedia.org/ccb_doc/group_35/9BJRZAAXUYWQ85NTM96M3BMHPJG7XKAK/Generic%20kids%20OT.pdf

    Website link for older kids:
    http://www.hubchurchmedia.org/ccb_doc/group_35/9BJRZAAXUYWQ85NTM96M3BMHPJG7XKAK/Generic%20questions%20-%20older.pdf

  30. We have eight children and this does work! We never did Children’s Church or nursery. We always had our children with us. Now these many years down the road people ask how our children keep so quiet but that is the way they were trained! :) They listen to the sermons and they know the hymns by heart!

  31. Thank you for these ideas! We keep our children with us as well, but have always struggled with how to keep the very little ones quiet. I loved the idea about a notebook with the key words to listen to. My son is almost three and since I read your post I have been doing a version of what you do with him and it’s working great! I just wrote a post on it on my blog and linked back to you as well. http://livingandlearningathome.blogspot.com/2011/06/engaging-preschooler-during-sermon.html

  32. Ann Matlack says:

    So proud of you Connie…If you will think back to when I had foster children you will remember that I employed most of the things you are doing to keep them still and quiet. I do wish I had thought of some of the other things you are doing…Keep up the good work. You will never regret it…Love you..Ann

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  1. [...] activities or distractions. This will only teach them to expect to be entertained. See my post on children in church to read what we do provide during [...]

  2. [...] (Check out this quiet way to keep even small children engaged and listening intently to the sermon.) [...]

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