Sunday morning rolls around. Is your family excited about heading out to church to spend the morning worshiping and learning about Jesus or are your kids more likely to complain “Do we reallllllllly have to go??”
While we all know that going to church is important, that doesn’t mean that all of us feel like going all of the time–especially kids and teens. And while forcing your children to go to church is one strategy, it’s so much nicer for everyone when your family actually looks forward to going.
If your family is one of the many where the kids would rather be at home playing video games or sleeping in rather than heading off to church, these seven ways to get your kids excited about church will help.
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1. Get Excited Yourself
Whether you look forward to church all week or you secretly can’t wait until it’s over–your kids can pick up on the little cues you think you’re hiding. Therefore, if you want your kids to be excited about church, the first thing you need to do is get excited yourself. Truly excited, not just for show.
Instead of focusing on all of the negatives (the time it takes, the hassle, all the other things you could be doing), focus on all of the positives and be sure to share them with your children as well. For example, how much you enjoy the sermons, how great the music always is, how much you’re looking forward to seeing your friends, how lucky you are to be able to go to church without worrying for your safety… Whatever excites you the most.
2. Make Church Attendance a Habit
If your church attendance has been awfully hit-or-miss lately, can you really blame your children for wondering if they really have to go to church? After all, that’s exactly the message you send when you start skipping out on church–no matter what the reason may be.
If your children are looking for excuses to get out of church–take away all of the excuses. Once your kids know they WILL be going to church as long as they aren’t dying, they are much less likely to fight you on it.
3. Get Everything Ready the Night Before
Sometimes, the problem isn’t actually attending church–it’s all of the effort it takes to get to the church in the first place. If you are bringing small children to church or you have children with special needs, getting out the door in the morning can be a real challenge.
If this is the case, why not make everything easier on yourself by preparing in advance? Make sure everyone has clean clothes to wear and set them out in piles the night before. (Pro Tip: A hanging closet organizer works great for setting out clothes in advance!)
Prepare a casserole in advance so all you have to do is pop it in the oven before church, or toss something in the crock pot first thing in the morning before everyone wakes up. (This list of make-ahead meals will help!)
Round up your Bibles, shoes, offering envelopes and anything else you’ll need. You may just be surprised how much a little advanced preparation can help!
4. Teach Them What Everything Means
Do your young children sit with you during church instead of going to Sunday School? If so, they may simply be bored. Most sermons are way over the heads of younger children, and if your service is filled with lots of imagery and symbolism, your children may have no idea what is going on or what any of it means. Sitting through an hour of this can be terribly boring.
Help bring the service to life for your children by explaining what everything means. Quietly whisper explanations for the things your children see during church, whether that’s taking communion or ringing the bells. Translate the sermon into kid-friendly language so your child can understand as well if appropriate. You may even sit close to the front so your child can better see and understand what is going on.
**Pro Tip: If your family attends Catholic mass, “The Mass Book for Children” is a great way to explain church in a way that your little ones will understand!
5. Give Them Something To Do
Even when children know what everything means, getting them to sit still for an hour (or more!) can be a bit of a hassle. If your children are quite young (or your sermons are quite long), you may want to find something for your children to do to occupy their time.
**Pro Tip: If you have little ones who have a hard time sitting still, a quiet time book like this 8-page activity book can really help. Just make it something special for church–not an everyday toy.
**Alternately, if your child is 4 to 8 and still needs a little help sitting through an especially long sermon or homily, this big book of Sacrament-Time Activities will help keep them quiet while still helping them learn about the Gospel.
6. Help Them Make Friends
While offering Sunday School is one way churches can make themselves more appealing and accessible to children, it doesn’t always guarantee that your kids will want to go. If there’s nothing wrong with the kids’ or teens’ program and its leaders, your child is just uninterested, helping them make friends can help. After all, what kid doesn’t want to hang out with their friends on a regular basis?
Help your child make friends by encouraging your child to invite other children over to hang out, or by inviting other parents with kids your child’s age over for dinner if your child is shy. Instead of just bringing your child to Sunday School, let them participate in more activities so they have time to get to know everyone and fit in. Try to show up a little early and leave a little later so your child has some time to socialize.
Plus, this will provide YOU with a good opportunity to develop more Godly friendships too.
7. Get Them Involved
For some children, church may seem boring because they don’t really understand why it’s important or why they have to go. You can’t really blame them–many adults struggle with this exact same question as well!
Instead of having your kids show up to be served every week, why not put them in a position to serve others? This will put them in a place where what they do–and whether they show up or not–matters. And serving others feels great, and it’s a great way to grow in faith!
Click here to find 75 ways you can serve your church–many are appropriate for teens and adults, and even young children can help with several of them!
While there is some disagreement as to the exact number of teens who drop out of church after high school, one thing is for sure, the number is far too high. Don’t wait until your kids are almost on their own to try to keep them in church. Start developing good habits today while you can (AND make sure to teach them REAL faith–not just rules) and hopefully all of the things you have taught them will stick.
Does your family ever have trouble getting motivated to go to church? (It’s okay to be honest.) How do you make things easier on yourselves?
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