Welcoming Children to Church

Welcoming Children to Church

May 23, 2016 by

Welcome children pew cardWith cry rooms, children’s church and child check-in, sometimes it feels like children are not welcome in our worship services. Some churches intentionally go that route, creating children’s ministry programs that rival summer camp. That’s cool, but what about the rest of us who don’t have the budget to build a McDonald’s playland? We need to simply welcome children.

Hamburg First United Methodist Church in Arkansas welcomes families with a simple card in the pews. It explains how parents can engage their kids in the service. It starts with an admonish to “relax!” It goes on to encourage sitting up front so little ones can see, explaining to kids what’s happening and reminding parents that kids mimic our behavior.

They shared it on Facebook to an overwhelming response: over 50,000 shares, 18,000 likes and more than 700 comments.

So, maybe you’re wondering, “How can my church do this?”

If children are bored in church, maybe we shouldn’t blame it on the children. Maybe your sermon is boring.

Here are some quick tips to help you start welcoming children:

1. Set the Tone

One of the quickest ways to make parents and their fidgety children feel unwelcome is for a pastor to respond to those distracted kids. When a pastor gives “the look” or even pauses for a crying baby, you’re sending those parents and children rushing for the door, maybe never to return. This is awkward for everyone, not just the parents. Pastors need to be able to keep the sermon going no matter what instead of being easily frustrated. Yes, kids can be distracting, but a parent will feel comfortable in church if they know they won’t be forever condemned for their child’s behavior.

It’s up to the pastor to set the tone and develop a culture where it’s OK for kids to be kids.

2. Engage With Children

If children are bored in church, maybe we shouldn’t blame it on the children. Maybe your sermon is boring. How long is it? How densely packed? What are you doing to make it easy to follow along (for both kids and easily-distracted adults)?

Instead of blaming children, a better approach might be to engage them.

What better way to help kids feel more involved—and less fidgety—than to acknowledge their presence? Ask questions that apply to parents and children. Make children feel important by singling them out when asking questions or referencing something specific during the sermon.

Anything you do to make your service more engaging will benefit not just kids but the entire church.

3. Clearly Explain the Options

Parents who are new to or just visiting a church often ask themselves the question: “What do I do with my kids here?” Every church is different, and being new can be tough. Make life easier for parents by providing easy-to-access information about what opportunities are available for their children during the service. Is there children’s church? A nursery? Make sure they know about these options, whether through a visitor’s section in the bulletin or in the slideshow up front. Too often churches assume people will know this information or force visitors to ask.

Ideally, parents should find detailed information on the church website so they can know what to expect before they get there.

Be clear and direct. Help parents feel comfortable in a new environment.

“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” -Matthew 19:14

Post By:

Ruthie Flaa

Ruthie Flaa is a college student trying very hard to survive her final semester before graduating in the spring. She enjoys writing so much that she’s majoring in it.
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7 Responses to “Welcoming Children to Church”

  • Christopher
    May 23, 2016

    My church has monthly rotating liturgists. So I made them a checklist for their opening greeting which includes instructions on children: where the nursery is, ages for various programs and an invitation to allow kids to stay at the parents’ discretion.

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  • Kellylynn Vercher Browne
    June 13, 2016

    Yes, often I feel children are left out, they are only given 6-7 min of story time, the rest is up to the parents. Jesus says, we must become like children and it would benefit us and our services to include dialog and simple child-like engagement in the sermons. Pray to this change!

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  • Laura
    October 20, 2016

    I’d really like to steal this, do you have a picture of the back of the card?

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  • Jeanne
    February 23, 2017

    I like your catd. This would be a valuable tool. Where can I purchase them or a similar card? Thanks Jeanne

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  • Marylin
    November 15, 2017

    I love the card, is there a way to purchase them or anything similar?

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  • Rhonda Mckinnon
    December 24, 2017

    Would like to know where I could order these for our parents. Thank you.

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  • Kevin D. Hendricks
    January 2, 2018

    Hey folks, there is no way to order these cards. It’s just an example one church created on their own. You’re more than welcome to borrow the idea and create your own.

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