Beep! Beep! Beep! The alarm clock goes off and soon a pot of coffee is filling the air with the unmistakable promise of a good morning. It’s Sunday and soon you will be heading off for church….if you could just find those shoes you or that tie were wanting to wear. Let’s face it, come Sunday morning, normal universal physics no longer apply and things go missing that Saturday night were properly placed. A smile is on your face after a good week has come to completion and now it is time to gather the family and go to church and worship the Lord.
The trouble is, not everyone is as excited to go as you are. Sometimes and for various reasons our children may be hesitant to want to go to church. Perhaps if you think back upon your own childhood you may recall not always having the fondest of memories as you experienced church. Perhaps they sang songs you were not familiar with, the preacher used words you didn’t understand, the pews were uncomfortable, or if your parents were like my parents I had to wear shoes that I believe were intended for discomfort. So how do you cultivate in your child a love for Sundays and for going to church? What you can do so that they go not just willingly but happily?
- First, be organized and make your children feel relaxed. Sunday morning rush is one of the most detrimental anxieties plaguing Sunday morning. Pick out your clothes and theirs the night before, if something needs ironed be sure to do it then and not at 9 a.m. I assure you, an outlet will rebel or a previously unnoticed stain on your favorite shirt will emerge. Give children baths or showers the night before. Again the idea is to minimize the rush and the scurrying to and fro.
- Make it a special day. When I was young, we stopped by our local Dunkin’ Doughnuts on the way in and I always got the cinnamon twists and one powdered doughnut. Perhaps Dad can make his special pancakes, throw in some bacon and eggs and make it a special morning, because it is.
- Treat them like important people. When you are at church, be sure to introduce them not only to children but to adults as well so that they have relationships with a good range of people. The minister will seem less of a stranger if you have him over for lunch. Maybe a game of catch or h.o.r.s.e. outside will help your child make a connection on a more personal level. If the children in the church are not from your child’s school district then make occasions for the families to get together. Some churches have a special “children’s sermons or children’ s time” where the minister teaches them something either from the sermon or a Bible verse and connects it to their lives. Either before, after or quietly during, explain to your child the various parts of the service and why they are important. Maybe you yourself are not sure, ministers love to answer these kinds of questions. Ask them what they learned in Sunday School or in the worship service and praise them for interacting with what was being taught.
- Get your children involved. No one likes just ‘having’ to go somewhere to sit and listen. But if they are involved, then everything else becomes interesting. Something else that is often times overlooked is involving children in the ministry aspects of the church. Children want to do important things. Pay attention to when a group of people are planning to go to a widow’s house and rake leaves. Your child could draw a happy picture for them with a Bible verse written on it and even lend a hand to raking those leaves. A homeless shelter will sometimes have children there who just want to play and color with another child. These are ways where not only does the little boy or girl or even teenager spend time with others from the church, they are also helping someone else. Whenever I am working on something at home I am reminded that God wired children with the desire to help because I hear their inquiry often “can I help?”
Apply these simple steps, and not only will you find that your children are more willing to go to Church, but you might find Sunday mornings, that they are more excited and even ready before you are!