WORSHIP ENGAGEMENT, PART 2
Practical ideas for parents to engage children in worship services online and “in-person.”
Now that your children understand your expectations and you have agreed on some strategies to help them participate in the worship service (see Worship Engagement, Part 1, above), what exactly should be in your worship engagement toolkit?
I encourage you to gather the things that meet your children’s wants and needs. You know them best. Here are some suggestions to get you started, gathered from a number of Christian educators:
- Children’s Bible and/or storybook Bible.
- A pencil case with pencils, colored pencils, eraser, crayons, or markers.
- A clipboard for each child.
- A notebook for note taking and Scripture Doodling.
- Plain white paper or construction paper for note-taking, doodling, and drawing.
- Dry erase board, MagnaDoodle, or other erasable drawing board (these don't create waste like paper does).
- A small jigsaw puzzle.
- Lacing cards for younger children.
- Pipe cleaners (chenille stems) – a great fidget toy that can be used (and reused) as crafting materials to make objects that help retell the Scripture or to make figures to act out life application points.
- Wikki Stix.
- Lego for retelling the Bible story (this may be best as an at-home worship supply).
- Play Doh (best for outdoor services or no carpet).
- Individual packs of Model Magic (maybe a bit less messy than Play Doh?).
- A Bible figure for posing and fidgeting.
- Books of the Bible or memory verse flash cards.
- Worship bingo cards with worship activities and objects to watch for and key “church” words to listen for (laminate and include a dry erase marker for reuse each week).
- Quiet rhythm instruments such as egg shakers/plastic maracas.
- Individually wrapped hand wipes or hand sanitizer.
- Things to avoid: bubbles, slime, balls (they roll into other people's space), and candy and other snacks (encourage hand to mouth contact, which is not wise these days).
For more suggestions of activities and supplies that encourage active listening, see this blog post by Christie Thomas.
If your church does not provide a children’s bulletin or student worship guide, you can easily make one up yourself. In advance, ask your pastor what the Scripture or sermon theme is for this week’s worship. Your favorite search engine will help you find coloring sheets and puzzles. Here are a few of my favorite sites:
- One Page Printable Bible Stories, New Testament in both color and b/w.
- One Page Printable Bible Stories, Old Testament in both color and b/w.
- Christian Coloring Pages
- This is the word search generator that I like to use.
- Include a generic sermon note page, such as these from Path through the Narrow Gate (you may have to give your email to access this site, but you will receive lots of nice free coloring pages and holiday activities).
Find a sturdy bag or plastic tub to store and carry your supplies in, and keep your kit in the living room or by the computer for online worship, and move it to your car once your church starts worshiping together in person.
Remember to talk with your children after the worship service about what they created as well as any application of the sermon in their lives. That will reinforce that the worship guide and activities are not busy work, but are something that relate to what the children are hearing, learning, and experiencing in worship.