What do Our Kids “Get” Out of Church?

 In Sara Humphrey

The following is from a blog post by Christina Embree for refocus ministry called “My Kid Doesn’t “Get” Anything Out of Church.”   It is one of the most talked about blog posts on the website, and it is something that really resonated with me as a children’s director.  I feel it needs to be shared to remind us of how simple, routine experiences can add up to big impact over time.

Sometimes it appears as though our children are getting nothing out of going to the larger worship service.  They wiggle, whisper, play with toys, distract others; the list goes on. Adults nearby might feel frustrated by the distraction, even though they smile on the outside.  They may wonder why kids aren’t “somewhere else.” I understand, I do! But there are many studies that show that worship times and learning alongside the larger congregation are some of the leading reasons for increased “stickiness” of faith in young adults.  So even though they appear to be distracted or distracting, our children are often getting much more out of worship than we realize.  And what they are “getting” makes a lasting impression that may very well keep them turning toward God as adults. So, what are our kids getting out of worship?

  • They get seen.  Before we made the switch to include children in worship at Hope, it was often asked, Where are all the kids?  Now, we may not be the biggest children and youth ministries on the block, but we have kids!  Awesome kids, in fact! But when they are separated out from the main worship service they often go unseen.  In fact, a very kind member didn’t even know I had a child myself. It was purely unintentional, but it made my heart hurt.  I knew we needed to change. I want to make sure our congregation knows our children and youth. It is important and meaningful that at least someone knows each child’s name.  And now that our children are attending the service, they are seen (and heard!); no more wondering where the kids are. They are right in front of us!
  • They get to see.  Kids learn by watching others and imitating their actions—whether at home, at school, or at church.  We have the opportunity to disciple the next generation every week during worship. Our children can see us singing, listening to prayers, reading scripture, offering our gifts, and serving the church.
  • They get to experienceHopefully we do not passively sit in the pew on Sunday morning, and we should invite our children to participate alongside us.  Taking communion, looking up the scripture in our Bibles, putting our offering in the offering plate, learning a new worship song, praying the Lord’s Prayer, and serving alongside the adults are just some of the ways our kids can participate in the worship service.  

Do children have the same worship experience as the adults?  No–their faith is still developing and growing (mine is too!).  Will there be wiggles and boredom? Yes—they are kids. But these momentary frustrations are worth it in their long-term faith development.  We want to raise a generation of engaged, enthusiastic Jesus followers. It begins by welcoming our children into worship. Smile at them. Get to know them.  These small encounters can make a big impact.  

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