Our children's services are set up where they are with me the entire service (as opposed to starting in "big church" and then leaving part way through). However, once a month is Family Sunday and we are all in the Sanctuary together. We do this for a couple of reasons. We want the children to have opportunities to be a part of the sanctuary worship service so that they can learn how the adults worship, we want them to see that they are a part of a bigger body of Christ, and also it begins to prepare them for when they are no longer in Children's Church. Plus, it gives all the workers the opportunity to be in church as well.
On Family Sunday, we do two things to try and include the children in the service. First, we include a time in the service specifically for the kids. We do a "Sermon in a Sack." If you are unfamiliar with this, it is pretty straightforward. I give out a sack to a child the week before that they can put anything they like into, as long as it follows three rules:
1) It's can't be alive.
2) It can't ever have been alive
3) It can't make a mess
Then on Sunday, at the appointed time, the children all come up to the platform and sit down. I am given the sack and I have to pull out whatever is in it and come up with a brief sermon about it. It sounds like this might be difficult, but usually it's not. For example, last month, a child brought in a box of Band-aids. I talked about how we only use those when we get hurt and that sometimes people treat God that way too. They only come to Him when they are in trouble or hurting. But God is not a box of Band-aids. He wants to be in our lives all the time...not just when we want something from Him. If you practice with things around your house or walk around a store looking for how God could speak to you through the things you see, you will find He can use anything to teach us if we will listen to what He's saying.
The second thing we do is to put together a worship packet for the children. Since all the children will get this packet it has things for the young as well as those a little older. I include a prize page that has review questions from the previous month's studies in Children's Church. If they bring it the following week to Children's Church, they can get a prize. If I know what the Pastor is preaching on that day, I try to make two or three pages of the packet follow his sermon. Including a coloring page from the text and possibly designing a puzzle around it as well. You can make up your own puzzles for free at Discovery Education. I have used it often and it is very easy to use. Then I include mission pages from our denomination as well. The packet usually ends up about 6-7 pages long. However, it is important to note that we DO NOT give out the packet at the beginning of service. We wait until after the "Sermon in a Sack." Otherwise, they may finish it before the sermon and since it is supposed to go along with the sermon, that would be a problem.
If you have not instituted a Family Sunday at your church, I would encourage you to do so. It is a wonderful way for all ages to worship together.
Until next week...