Teaching My Son to Engage in Worship

The impact of intergenerational worship where we as parents and grandparents intentionally model and teach our kids how to worship and grow in their discipleship has long-term blessings as they grow in their faith.

Today, in this guest blog article, Kid’s Ministry Friend, Jennifer Williams, shares her journey of beginning to teach her 4-year old to worship.

Keeping little bodies quiet and little ears attuned to a sermon can be a challenge! As a preacher’s wife and mom of two young boys in our small church, I often feel the pressure to keep them as still and silent as possible. The old adage of “Seen but not heard” can be a trap in our modern church culture, which often leads to handing kids a phone or game to play just to keep them quiet. I’ve struggled to find a way to teach my 4 year-old to sit in church and actually engage in the worship service.

Recently, I started a simple, no prep strategy to help keep him tuned in. I write a few words in bubble letters on the back of the bulletin and encourage him to trace each letter as we hear that word in the sermon. These words do not have to be insider knowledge from the pastor. Look at the title of the sermon if printed, take a quick glance of the passage of scripture. Is he preaching on Old Testament characters, Ruth, Moses, etc.? Is the sermon in the New Testament with Jesus or Paul? Is the topic love or discipleship? Write those words down. Even if they aren’t pretty art, just write them down.

Now comes the fun part! Watch as your child engages with the sermon! It may take a few weeks, but it is the joy of my heart (and God’s too) to watch my boy listen and be excited to hear His Word preached. This strategy requires constant input from you. One day he will be big enough to listen alone and begging to sit with the youth, but for now, I get to join in the experience of worship with him.

When the pastor says a word on your list, get excited! Point to the letter, say the word! Tell him to listen again! As that little body gets antsy and starts to throw the pencil, point to another word that the preacher says and get him to trace that. (This seems to be a more concrete redirect than just telling him to stop!) After you’ve filled in all of the letters, I let mine draw and scribble on the paper. Sometimes he asks for more words, so I draw them too. He’s little and his attention span is only so long. We will increase it over time. I’m sure there will be 100 other strategies. And when our littlest joins along with us in worship, I’ll probably be needing something totally different!

Training up a child means in worship too. Do I listen as well? Do I “get” a lot of the adult meaning of the sermon? Probably not, but I’m teaching my son to love God, to worship Him and to love the church. It is certainly worth the sacrifice!!

Jennifer Williams is a pastor’s wife in small town southwest Georgia (Iron City Baptist), mom of two little boys, and the Children’s Ministry Coordinator at her church.

If you are looking for a great resource to assist in this journey, check out Parenting in the Pew.

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