Children are members of our worshipping communities who, like the rest of us, need to feel welcome and involved. Here’s a few simple ways to welcome children to your church, engage them in worship and create a welcoming space for children.
Learn children’s names. Talk to children. Find out about interests and remember them for next time you chat.
Invite children to come up the front and witness baptisms.
Invite children to be involved in taking up the offering, serving communion and reading the Scriptures.
Give children their own hymnbooks or orders of service.
Remind children (and adults) of what is happening in the service. Call attention to what is going on, ‘Now we are going to sing.. .. We are about to share communion, in which we remember.. ..When we pray we are spending time listening to God and talking to God.. ..
When passing the offering plate, pass it to children as well as adults.
Smile at children instead of telling them to be quiet, whisper a question to them about the service, it may draw their attention back to what is happening as well as reminding them that some people are spending time with God and we respect that by using softer voices.
Don’t be afraid to talk to the children about what is going on in worship you’re not making noise – your explaining about how we worship – it’s important.
Taking it a bit further
Provide an introduction to worship that encourages quietness, explains what we are doing in worship and lets children know that they are a part of that. Young Children and Worship a book by Jerome Berryman and Sonya Stewart provides a great call to worship that engages children in a sense of sacredness and readiness for worship.
Make a special effort to shake hands with children during the passing of the peace, say their names as you do so. Children might be slightly embarrassed about participating in the Passing of the Peace, don’t let it stop you.
Invite children in the church to create cards to welcome children being baptised. Have them present the card during worship.
Make sure children to have a good view of what is going on during the service. If they can’t see what is going on in communion, or a baptism, just move quietly to the front with them to let them see what is happening.
Children like to move. It’s who they are, create opportunities for them to move during the service. Passing the Peace – encourage them to shake hands with people on the other side of the church. Create opportunities for children to take things forward – food parcels, offering, prayers, art, handing gifts out to community. This is a two-fold treat – children are involved and learning about worship, with their involvement preventing boredom and fidgeting.
These helpful tips are adapted from the Lift up your hearts website.