Every church-going mom has been there. You want to go to church, but you don’t know how to make the experience meaningful when caring for rambunctious little kids. You want your children to develop their faith and spirituality, but you question how much they are learning at such a young age.
Helping children stay calm in a space that is generally quiet and reverent is hard enough. You also want them to learn valuable lessons, and you want to take away something from the message yourself. It sounds impossible. But, maybe it’s not! This list of children’s church ideas can help you make the most out of going to church with kiddos.
Now, a word of caution: kids are kids, and they may still act up. It will take persistence and patience to get a good routine in place for church time. Still, give these ideas a try and you might find church a little more enjoyable for you and your entire family!
Note: While these children’s church ideas are written with Christian worship services in mind, they could also be tailored to other religious programs. Find what works for you!
Bring Sensory Toys
Your diaper bag is already full to the brim, we know. Try packing a separate bag just for church (a tote like this would be cute). Your children will learn that the toys in this bag are a treat and help them process that you are in a special place.
What you pack in this bag is important. You need toys that will help your kids stay quiet and clean, but also entertained. Try including a number of sensory experiences, such as stuffed animals, magnet books, and felt or paper dolls. Better yet, find sensory toys that also have inspiring lessons for kids to help them identify scripture characters and stories! Here are a few suggestions that your young ones might enjoy:
Books are a wonderful way to keep children entertained – but also calm! Similar to sensory toys, try finding books that have touch-and-feel components, flaps to lift, etc. And, if they tell motivational or spiritual stories, all the better! There are hundreds of children’s scriptures to choose from; here are a few suggestions for books with Bible activities for kids:
Make sure to give your child a say when it comes to packing books and toys in your church bag. Their participation can make them feel more involved in church and help them look forward to attending.
Many worship services have a serene atmosphere. When you walk in, you sense that you should be quiet…unless you are a toddler! While you may feel the need to hush your child throughout the program, try helping him or her learn to whisper. This will practice will turn a moment of reprimand into a moment of connection. How can you direct your chatty child to engage with the service? Here are some ideas:
- Point out the speakers, minister, or people helping with communion. Maybe some of these people live in your neighborhood or see your child at school or daycare. Help your child say their names and learn what practices they are performing at church.
- If there are musical numbers, point out the musicians and singers. Help your child identify the instruments, count the members of the choir, or gently flip the pages of a hymnal. If he or she wants to sing along, let it happen (a child’s off-key voice is the sweetest music of all)!
- If you need to get up and walk around, no problem! Help your child walk calmly and reverently in the halls. Help them continue whispering to avoid disturbing others. Point out artwork and pictures in the hallways or offices to help them identify stories and people from scriptures. You may actually find a few other parents with little ones walking the halls; help your child say hi and make new friends in a calm fashion.
Grow With Your Child
As your child gets older, update your bag to make room for new children’s church ideas. This will prevent them from getting bored and build upon the foundation you started with them as babies and toddlers. You may only include a blank notebook and some pens; ask your child to journal about the service or to draw a picture about the sermon. Have them write down questions they have so you can discuss them later. You might even purchase their own set of scriptures to read during the service.
If you’d like a few additional ideas, here are items that older kids might enjoy at church:
Don’t Be Afraid
Don’t let worries and self-doubt cloud your experience at church. If your children act up and you need an extra hand, ask a friend to sit with you. Many people at church would enjoy the chance to get to know you and your kids!
Also, don’t be scared to get creative! If your little ones want to do something a little unorthodox, let them (within reason, of course)! For example, you might let your child use a baby wipe to clean the back of the pew. It might seem silly to you, but it might feel like an important job to him or her! Let them participate in worship in ways that make sense to them.
John Angell James once said, “They who would grow in grace, must love the habitation of God’s house. It is those that are planted in the courts of the Lord who shall flourish, and not those that are occasionally there.” With some work and dedication on your part, your family will grow in grace by celebrating your faith and spirituality, even when it feels overwhelming and pointless.
Luckily, most congregations enjoy children and want them to participate and feel welcome. Even if your children are a little loud and busy, keep doing your best to share your faith with them and let them feel the love, fellowship, and peace that can come when attending church. You are doing them a great service by showing them an example of healthy, genuine worship and building their village of kind adults who can mentor them throughout their lives. Keep plowing on and you will likely see blessings for each of you.
If you enjoyed this list of children’s church ideas, please share the link with other parents in your church community!
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