If you want to have a good experience with your little ones in church, you need to plan ahead. Planning ahead for us included starting our preparation way before we arrived in church. It is good to start talking about church (in very positive terms), from the moment you leave church and then continue that type of conversation through the week and especially on Saturday. Fuel your children with anticipation for what God may teach them (and you) the next day, talk about how blessed we are to get to meet together for church, explaining that some children never get to experience this in other countries.
Even very young children can be prepared for Sunday.
Children can understand our communication (tones, facial expression, emotions, and some words) at a much younger age than we often realize. As early as 3–6 months of age, begin having “talks” with your child about the importance of church, why we sit quietly in church, how good it is to learn about Jesus and God’s love for us.
Help children learn to connect the good things they’ve been given to the God we go to “meet with” at church.
Through the week, point out to them things Jesus is doing in their life (growing beautiful flowers and pretty colors in the sunset for us to see, giving them a warm bed to sleep in, good food to eat, toys to play with, fun things to laugh about, etc) and encourage them to thank Jesus for these things through the week.
Slow down, prepare hearts, and bed down early on Saturday.
We live in a hectic, fast-paced, society filled with constant activities, but we’ve always felt it was important to try to protect our Saturday evenings and curtail late night events if possible. Sunday morning will go much smoother if the children are able to get to bed at a decent time the night before. Sunday mornings will be more meaningful for the entire family if the family is able to use a portion of Saturday evening preparing their hearts for the service. It is helpful to spend some time talking about the passage that will be covered and praying together asking God to speak, praying for the pastor, the praise team, praying for God to work. This is also a great time to specifically pray for your children to be spiritually receptive during the service.
How are you preparing your children for their church experience?