I love the opening moments of our church’s zoom worship when each household is welcomed as their faces pop up on the screen. Like a modern-day Romper Room, the children are greeted by name: “Hi, Evelyn!” “Welcome, Weber family! How great that you’ve got your markers ready for coloring!” “Jeremy, is that you? I love that superhero cape you’re wearing!” The warm words, friendly waves, and smiles of recognition fill me up with joy.
I also love that our church has been intentional about providing ways for kids to participate in online worship. (Read more about that here and here.) Each week we send out a short email to everyone in which we do the following: list the Bible story that we’ll be reading, remind families to have art supplies, Lego and/or playdough nearby for children to use in response to the story, and invite the kids to bring a particular item along to worship.
The item we invite the children to bring always connects in some way to the Bible passage we’ll be reading. We also make sure it’s something that’s easy for already busy families to find. Some examples of what we've done so far: paper boats (Jesus Calms the Waves), paper palm branches (Palm Sunday), Alleluia paper butterflies (Easter), and a stick found while walking outdoors (Road to Emmaus).
After six weeks of online worship I’ve got a treasure chest filled with each of the props we’ve used. I can’t wait for the day we can meet again in person, open that chest, and pull out each prop as we recall the stories and remember how our faithful God provided for us. But for now, we’re still worshipping online, so I’m preparing for Pentecost. Here's some of what I'm working on.
Pentecost Ideas for Worshipping with Kids Online
- Invite children (of all ages!) to bring a specific item to use as part of your worship celebration. Some ideas:
- Bring some pinwheels to blow when you hear the words “wind” and “Spirit” during the story. Make your own pinwheels using these simple instructions or pick some up at the dollar store.
- Attach streamers, ribbons, or a dish towel to a wooden spoon. Wave it as we sing and when we read about the rushing wind.
- Print copies of this free Pentecost coloring page from Illustrated Ministry. Decorate them in advance (attach them to a stick and wave them!) or have them ready for your children to color as they listen along during worship.
- Use this simple prayer, inviting all ages to respond with “Thank you, Lord!”
Leader: For the Holy Spirit, whom you sent to be with us,
All: Thank you, Lord!
Leader: For the Holy Spirit, who helps us believe in Jesus,
All: Thank you, Lord!
Leader: For the Holy Spirit, who helps us know right and wrong,
All: Thank you, Lord!
Leader: For the Holy Spirit, who helps us care for others,
All; Thank you, Lord!
Leader: For the Holy Spirit, who helps us do what God wants us to do,
All: Thank you, Lord! Amen. (Dwell, Wonder,Year 1, Unit 6, Session 3, dwellcurriculum.org)
- Sing Happy Birthday, Dear Church together.
- In addition to reading the Pentecost story from Scripture, you might want to also read the story from a children’s story Bible or show a child friendly video version of the story.
Pentecost Ideas to Share with Families At Home
- Use these ideas (based on God’s Big Story card # 140, Wind and Fire at Pentecost) as you spend time in the Pentecost story together:
- After reading the story from Acts 2:1-41 in your Bible or a favorite children’s story Bible together, read it again and use your voices to make the following sound effects: whooshing wind, crackling flames, and babbling voices. End with a round of celebratory applause!
- Wonder about the story together by asking: What part of the story amazes you the most?
- Tell each other about a person who has taught you about Jesus and what you learned from them.
- Decorate (or have your children decorate!) a room in your house to celebrate the birth of the church. If you’ve got flame-colored streamers or balloons, great. If not, that’s okay too. Use whatever you have on hand. Don’t forget to sing Happy Birthday!
- What’s a birthday without a cake (or something else that’s sweet to eat)? Make a cake and cover it with candles or pull a pack of cookies out of the cupboard and have your kids frost them with store-bought icing or this 3 ingredient icing recipe. Stick some strawberry “flames” on top!
- Explain to your kids that, like the wind, we can’t see the Holy Spirit. Make or purchase pinwheels at the dollar store and invite your kids to blow into them as you talk about how wind works. Or go for a walk and see who can find signs of the wind at work. Talk about ways the Holy Spirit is at work too!
- Some of the best conversations happen as you color or work on a project side by side around the kitchen table. Print copies of this free Pentecost coloring page and color together as you talk about the story.
- Looking for a simple video about Pentecost to watch as a family? Check out Acts of the Apostles: What is Pentecost? by VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer.
How about you? Let us know how your church is including children during online worship and how you are encouraging families as they celebrate Pentecost at home.