Five child-friendly sermon tips

Children are concrete thinkers who sit in a worship service filled with figurative words. They fidget and squirm. They frown and make faces. So why should we be concerned about including children in the worship service?

If we wait until children understand everything that we say or do in worship, we lose the opportunity to create quality experiences that lay foundations for faith. Worshiping with the community of faith is essential for Christian growth. Including boys and girls in worship is vital to their understanding of Christian disciplines.

Making sermons child-friendly doesn't mean wearing a clown suit or pulling surprises out of a paper bag. Try including some of these ideas and create a child-friendly worship serivce in your church.

1. Address children in worship.

Speak directly to children and include references to them in prayer and in the sermon. Find opportunities to reinforce biblical truths that children encountered in Sunday School. Avoid using children as a way to be "cute" in front of the congregation. This can mistakenly communicate insincerity.

2. Include stories children can relate to.

Real life stories that demonstrate tangible examples are very effective with children (and adults). Consider telling narrative Bible passages as stories. Children are not alone in their desire to hear well-told stories. Practice stories in order to enhance attention.

3. Consider a child's view.

Evaluate your facial expressions and tone of voice from a child's view. A child once said about a pastor's presentation style, "Why is the preacher always so mad?" Think of the child's perception of God when addressing sensitive stories or content. Overly dramatized stories may scare children.

4. Make the first Lord's Supper special.

If your church is small enough for you personally to serve the Lord's Supper to each member, encourage children who have not accepted Christ to come forward. Instead of offering the elements whisper a simple prayer in the child's ear. Invite children who have been recently baptized to join you on the front row. Personally serve the elements to children who are participating in their first Lord's Supper.

5. Encourage parents.

Creating a worship service where children feel included enhances the experience for all in attendance and sends an important message to parents. When you value children, you also value families. Children are not the church of the future. They are the church of today.

Tommy Sanders is the father of three children Katie, Jayne Claire, and Kyle. He is the Minister of Childhood Education at Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas.

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