Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Every month that has a fifth Sunday, we intentionally keep our Elementary Kids (K5-5th) with us in what we call “Family Sunday”. Family Sunday serves as an opportunity for us as parents (and fellow church members) to train our children in the importance of gathering with the entire church body. We intentionally help them turn in their Bible, sing the songs, fill in the notes for the sermon, and serve while also showing them the joy in doing these things for the glory of God.
This is what Family Integrated Worship looks like at Grace Life Church. We don’t worship separately as families, but together. It’s one of the reasons why we keep our kids in with us while we sing.
What we teach our children now is what they will often hold on to as they grow older. We show them the joy of gathering with the church. We show them how to follow along to a sermon. We show them how to stand and sing. Family Discipleship is modeled. Kids learn by observing and when they observe you loving the Jesus you are teaching them about, it will solidify what you are teaching them.
Here are a few helpful tips to prepare you for Family Sunday.
Let your children know they will be with you the entire service and tell them what to expect.
Nobody likes surprises or changes in routine, so prepare your children for Sunday’s gathering. Tell them that you expect them to sing along, read along, sit still, and listen carefully.
Teach your children how to listen to a sermon.
Attention spans are not getting any longer. Screen time and easily scrolling through apps train our children to have a short attention span. It’s training us too. It’s why YouTube ads are a few seconds and why Social Media platforms like Instagram and TikToc limit video length.
So how can we expect our kids to sit through a 30 minute sermon? We do so by teaching them. As they try to sit through a sermon, help them try to sit in their chair. This means they sit with you, not their friends. This may mean you are constantly telling them to sit down, but children need guidance and they need it reinforced. Allow them to color and draw, but do so by encouraging them to color or draw something related to the message. If they can read and write, encourage them to complete the notes in the church program. Avoid giving them toys, devices, or other items to keep them occupied. Doing so is practically teaching them that a sermon is not important.
PRO TIP: Bring snacks and drinks with you!
Discuss the sermon on your way home.
The car ride to and from the church gathering is an incredible opportunity for family discipleship. On the way home, ask them what they learned from the sermon. Ask them what they learned about God. Ask them why church and God’s Word is important. Ask them what their favorite song was. Take advantage of the Sunday gathering being fresh on their minds to instill in them the importance of the gathering of the local church.
A short note from the preacher to the parent.
In closing, let me make a few remarks from my perspective as the preacher. I love family Sundays. I love seeing the kids participating in the service both in singing and answering the questions I ask while I preach. My prayer for them is that they hear more sermons on Sunday morning than KidLife lessons. If that happens, then they’ve spent several years in church.
I’m often asked, “Are you distracted while you are preaching?” The answer is usually “no”. I am not usually distracted during Family Sundays mainly because I’ve prepared for the distractions. Yes, your children will stand up. Yes, your children will be chatty. Yes, your children will squirm. But don’t think it’s a distraction to me or to anyone else.
Why? Because I (and the older folks of our church) understand that seeing kids in a Sunday gathering means there is life and a future in this church. It brings us joy to see the kids in there with us.
It’s why I love seeing your kids on Sunday. I’m their pastor too and I want them to know that I will always be there to point them to Jesus and I’m never too busy or too distracted to pay attention to them.
Parenting is hard work. But it is a good and satisfying work. We have an incredible opportunity to point our kids to Jesus.
Let’s not waste it.
By His Grace,