Parents, we are experiencing a time we never would have signed up for. Even though we are seeing a little lightness this summer, it’s been months of unknowns, cancelations, and a constantly moving target of what’s safe to do or not to do. Navigating this uncharted territory can be nerve-racking. Having our kids along for the ride makes for an especially rocky journey.
Sundays have also become something of a challenge. Depending on the age of your kids, and their attention spans, worshiping at home without the normal kid’s programs can be tricky. Life with little ones and getting your kids to be quiet (long enough so you can listen) is no easy task. Some of us are giving up and tuning out. Some of us are saying, “it’s not worth it.”
I’m here to tell you that it is indeed worth it. Staying connected to the community of faith and to God is always worth it. Even if it means watching church online or one more Zoom call. Seeing a face of someone you know can help stave off loneliness, and remind you that God is still there. Remember Hebrews 10:25, and let’s not give up.
Many of you have shared that you’re feeling discouraged and seeking tips for how to stay connected and how to engage your kids in worship this summer. So I wanted to give you some practical steps, some encouragement, and a challenge as you consider this ongoing season of worshiping together as a family at home.
Practical Options for Engaging Kids in Worship on Sundays:
- Set aside Sundays as different than every other day. Light a candle, eat a special breakfast, or get “dressed” for church to signal to kids that this time matters. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Let your preschoolers choose something from the costume bin to anticipate the specialness of the day. Don’t stress, as long as they are listening, it’s a win.
- Get creative this summer. Sit outside with the computer, have a watch party with neighbors with a projector and screen, have a Zoom discussion about the message with friends from church afterwards.
- Have your kids participate in Ren Kids Sunday Worship via Zoom. Everything is geared towards them. Seeing other kids, teachers, and pastors can help them feel connected to the church. Even if they don’t like singing, they will see people who know them. They will hear a story from the Bible and learn about God’s love and how to apply it to their lives. Let your kids bring instruments, stuffed animals, and costumes to make it fun. Have them do their call when you’re watching the Renaissance Church service online.
- Watch the Renaissance Church service together as a family. Whether you watch it on Sunday or at another time during the week, worshiping together becomes an anchor in your life and keeps us all grounded.
- Choose the same place to watch the service each week. Remove any distractions (no other devices). Everyone should be able to view the biggest screen you have. If you are watching the service while traveling, do your best to make the Sunday feel like it is still set apart. In this way, you are teaching your kids the practice of Sabbath.
- Use the different elements of the worship service to help you. Kids love to move and there are different ways to physically engage your kids during the hour. Worship is not a passive activity. Parents that participate in singing and moving will model how to worship. Try some of these: standing/swaying/singing/clapping joyfully during music, sitting still and quietly during prayer, looking up the Bible passages, or standing during the closing.
- Find ways to engage kids during the message. (It’s the hardest part.) Give a small snack during the message, let them “take notes” in a special notebook, give them a kid’s Bible, coloring pages, or a “Message Note” sheet. A special blanket or stuffed animal might calm them, but wait until the message begins to enjoy it. Having to wait for a treasured item helps them build anticipation.
Heart Work for Grown Ups:
- I want to encourage you, parents. This is not easy. Kids are challenging. You may experience pushback. Watching church on the screen is weird. Teaching kids to worship with you will include challenges, but it is part of our good work in raising disciples.
- Grieving loss is important. Kids miss their church friends too. Acknowledging this can be healing and bonding. Being honest and open about your loss is very important. So when you share what your new Sunday routine looks like, it can help lead them through this time of uncertainty. Grief is messy. Don’t be surprised if Sundays aren’t always smooth sailing.
- This is a marathon, not a sprint. Kids worshiping with their families (however imperfectly) has a lasting impact and leads kids to stay connected to Jesus and to the church for their lifetime. It can be frustrating, but I want to challenge you to stay the course. You can do it. The Holy Spirit will help you and will do the real work of transformation.
- Sunday isn’t the only time to worship, learn, and grow. Discipleship is a daily task. In Deuteronomy 6:4–6, parents are challenged to talk about God with their kids every chance they can get. Use walks, mealtime, bedtime, or drives in the car to share about what God is teaching you. Show them God is real. See that being stuck at home is an opportunity for more focused time with your kids.
- Teach your kids to make space for God in their lives. Discipleship is a lifelong relationship with Jesus. Your kids will grow up and will need to have their own spiritual practices to keep them connected to God. Weekly worship and Sabbath are just one part of walking with Jesus. Practically speaking, this means putting away the screens. Show them how to write in a prayer journal, read through a kid’s devotional, memorize Scripture, and be quiet long enough to listen for God’s voice.
You can do this. Praying for you and cheering you on,
-Michelle Andrews, Pastor of Children’s Ministry