Okay, Kids, it’s time for Church!

So, you’ve got your Bible, your coffee, and your remote—you’re all ready for Eastbrook at Home—the new normal worship experience during this period of quarantine. After a few minutes of singing along with the worship team, it happens—a screech, a cry, tattling, more crying! THIS is a worship service?

It’s a practical reality, you need to focus on the proclaimed word of God from our pastors, to be spiritually fed and encouraged so that you can lead your family wisely. But, how do you enter into this time of teaching, when you’re surrounded by little ones with micro-attention spans?

I’ve asked our Children’s Ministry team for some input in developing this list of Tips for At-Home Worship with Kids:

  • Recognize the Spiritual Battle. Just as you can count on every distraction when having your quiet time, you can expect that this will be the one hour when things will “blow up.” The Enemy will do his best to keep your family from worship, so call him on it. Pray in advance for God to keep these distractions at bay. If online church just “doesn’t work” one week, try again next week. Giving up is exactly what the Enemy wants for you.
  • Decide on a regular “set” time of worship each week. If kids know that they can count on Sunday at 10am to be Worship Time, it will become a natural part of the weekly routine, and they will accept it with less push-back.
  • Prep kids ahead of time for what the experience will be like. Remember, they’re kids—they have no idea what “On-line Worship” means or what it looks like. Instead of telling them that you’re going to “watch church”, tell them that you’re going to participate in Say something like, “This means that we’re going to sing along with the worship leaders. We’re going to pray when they pray. And, when the pastor preaches, we’re going to open our Bibles and listen. This is the grow-ups time to learn, and you can help by staying busy . . . “
  • About “Staying busy”. . . For younger children, consider making a “Worship Box” (see sidebar). Or, simply have a stack of books, coloring sheets, playdough or other quiet activities ready for the sermon time.
  • Signal for this quiet time with a “Sermon Stretch”. Think of this as a “7th Inning Stretch”—pause the video, and get up to do a few stretches or jumping jacks. This signals a change in the service, and it allows kids to expend a little extra energy.
  • Intersperse the regular worship with material from our Kids at Home page. Nursery Coordinator, Joanna Pawlisch does this with her three young sons. They pause the service video, then switch to the kids’ Bible Story video (Preschool or Elementary), discuss the questions and pray together, then have the kids do quiet activities, while she and her husband watch the sermon.
  • Proximity can help. K5-1st Grade Coordinator, Colleen Mittag, suggests getting down on the floor to help her youngest son stay calm and focused on his activity, while she listens to the sermon.
  • Save the sermon for another time. The one advantage of a recorded worship service, is that you can flex as needed. Maybe you have some family worship together with the beginning of the service, work through the kids material and pray as a family. You can your spouse can listen to the sermon and discuss it after the kids’ bedtime.

Worshiping with kids at home can be challenging, but it can also be a great time to model for your children the priority of worship. On a typical Sunday at Eastbrook, they don’t see you worship, pray, and study the Bible. Now, they can understand that if you make worship important part of your week, then living a life of faith is important for them, too.

Creating a Worship Box

A family Worship Box is a great way to engage kids with hands-on tools that teach them that there is a plan and a purpose for each part of our worship services. Find a box that your kids can decorate and fill it with the following items which they can use as you worship together:

  • Worship and Praise – Simple musical instruments, a “shaker” made from a plastic Easter egg with a teaspoon of rice, or streamers to wave while singing.
  • Confession – a small cross to hold as we think about our sin and how Jesus paid for it. (A popsicle-stick cross is fine, or for older kids, a chalkboard where they can write their sins as they confess, then erase them, symbolizing God’s forgiveness.)
  • Prayer for Others – a globe, map, or pictures of family and friends around the world.
  • Offering – a tiny gift bag with paper hearts to show that we give God our best.  Let kids draw their offering on a heart to place in the gift bag.
  • Sermon – Bible Story Books, coloring, or activity pages from Eastbrook Kids at Home page
  • BenedictionSmall battery-operated tea light or flashlight to symbolize how we leave worship to shine Jesus’ light to the world.

—Laure Herlinger, Sr. Director, NextGen Ministries

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