All four of my kids play basketball. Although our youngest, Tara, was toted along to all of her sibling’s games, wore their jerseys, and grew up in a home with a ball in every corner, that’s not how she learned the game. She learned the game by playing. It wasn’t until she joined a team, picked up a ball, dribbled it down the floor, and banked a shot off the backboard that she truly experienced basketball.
Children learn through observation, but they learn best through participation. We take them to church so that being part of a church family and gathering regularly to worship God in community with others becomes part of the fabric of their lives.
(Home Grown Handbook for Christian Parenting, page 187)
We know that children benefit when a church lays out the welcome mat for them during worship. (Truth is, we all benefit by having them there.) We also know that worshipping with children in a way that nurtures faith and invites participation requires intentionality on the part of those who plan and lead worship and it requires focused attention on the part of parents and caregivers who may arrive already exhausted from the time and energy it took just getting their kids out the door and into the sanctuary.
Our job as a family of God is to nourish parents by providing encouragement. One informal but oh-so-important way to do that is to know their children by name, to brighten our eyes and smile upon their arrival, and to let them know “we’re glad you’re here” even (especially) on those occasions when junior decides to cause a bit of a ruckus in church.
We’re also called to support and equip parents. One way to do that is by giving them this terrific new tool from the Intergenerational Church toolkit: Ten Ways for Families to Engage Kids in Worship.
Download a copy and distribute it to your families. Keep an extra stash in the Welcome Area at church so that guests and newcomers also sense your support. Share the information with the rest of your congregation so that everyone gets on board and is intentional about ways they can support families too.
For more great ideas (including a wonderful example of children’s Guide to Worship, tips for creating children’s bulletins that draw children into worship, and links to “Pew Projects”) open the Worshipping section of the Intergenerational Church toolkit .
It's one more way let your families know how much you love them!