Having been used to a fun and engaging kids program, kids and/or youth transitioning into church services can be a make-or-break time for their Sunday experiences. Here’s a few tips for parents and churches to help them love “adult” church as much as they loved their kids/youth program:
- Ask them how they feel about it. This helps start the conversation, you can tell them what to expect and helps them get excited about gathering as God’s people in this different context.
- Sit with them and model singing, listening and participating in the meeting. Maybe take turns with other parents to sit with them and their friends. It can be nice doing this together with other Youth Kids.
- Our church has YOUTH EDITION sermon outlines. Grab a YOUTH outline on your way in (or ask where to get one). These have some more guided questions to help the kids/youth listen and take notes. Get them to write down words they hear but don’t understand so you can discuss them later.
- Plan to have a ‘post-match debrief’ so your child/ren can ask questions and help you get a read on what they have understood from the meeting. It would be good to talk about what you remember and/or have been convicted of to model repentance, change and growth from God’s word.
- Investigate ways your child can serve at church. Start with having them tag along with you where appropriate. This helps them feel more a part of the church family and less of a ‘consumer’.
- Encourage your teens to keep an eye out for new and visiting teens and to welcome them by talking to them – treating them how they would like to be welcomed if they walked into an unfamiliar church with unfamiliar people.
- Unless it is already happening, quietly and respectfully ask the preachers and service leaders to include the youth so they feel included as valued members of the congregation. This could include teen-specific sermon applications and/or illustrations, acknowledging their attendance and the vibrance their energy brings.
Dad’s, we need to take the lead here! Studies show what many have suspected for a long time – children whose father valued and prioritised church attendance and involvement have significantly higher rates of church attendance as adults.
Where there are families in our churches with single mothers, particularly of boys, this is also where men in church can be role models to these boys – but talk to the Mum first!