To make worship more family friendly, you might look at it through the eyes of a child. Ask other ministers and church leaders what they think a child would see. Go in your sanctuary or worship center and get down on your knees and take a look around. What does the environment look like from a three- or four-foot level? If you are just starting to develop a family friendly service, or if you have new families coming into the church, think about taking the children into your worship area during a weekday. Allow them to walk around and look at things.
What does the environment look like from a three- or four-foot level?
Bringing my three-year-old grandson to an evening choir rehearsal provided an opportunity for me to walk with him around the sanctuary. He stopped and touched different things. He went over to the keyboard and piano area, and I explained this was where the people that made the music sat and played these instruments. He walked up and down several aisles. Think how different this looked to a little body only about three feet high. He had only sat in one area toward the back, so this was all new to him.
When we got ready to practice, he came up on the stage, looked around, and then sat with the choir. He was surprised and said, “Nana, it’s really different up here!” When he got tired of helping us sing, he walked to the back of the church and, with the permission of the soundman, was able to go into the sound booth.
A funny thing happened after that experience. This little fellow took ownership of his church the next Sunday. He was so proud about all that he knew. He stood tall that Sunday and sang his little heart out during the service. He was relaxed and comfortable in the service.
Remember, if an unchurched family or a family new to your denomination or church affiliation attends your church, the children may not be familiar with what it is like to attend your worship service. You might need to teach parents how to prepare children for a worship service. This could be accomplished through a short video or DVD that each new parent would receive. Or you might put it on your website in document form.
This article is reprinted from Linda’s book Attract Families to Your Church and Keep Them Coming Back (Abingdon Press, 2014) and used with the publisher’s permission. The book is available through Amazon or Cokesbury.