Every Sunday my regular front row at church is filled with little girls. I’m not really sure why these sweet little gals like sitting in the front row during worship, but I’m glad they do. They all bring their little notebooks and pens, and they draw during the sermon.
No one is playing on iPads or cell phones. No one is sleeping. No one is eating or drinking. There isn’t a single entertaining thing happening (except for my husband’s brilliant and lively sermons), but still they come to me week after week and sit there.
I know that many of us worry that our children will be bored during church. We fear that if they are bored they won’t want to go, and if they don’t want to go then that doesn’t bode well for their future as good little Christians. For this reason we have created all kinds of awesome children’s church programs designed to keep them busy and interested, and I think those things are great if they’re available to you.
But, and I know this may be an unpopular opinion, I think it’s okay for kids to be bored at church.
If you polled most church-going kids, I doubt that many would say that the sermon is their favorite part of the worship service. I don’t expect my kids to jump up and down with excitement when it’s time to sit still and listen to talking for 40 whole minutes. But I do expect them to sit still and be quiet. And they do. My whole little pew of tiny church-goers do. They draw to pass the time, and then when the service is over, everyone goes home.
I’ve also noticed something about my front row crew. When Chad tells a joke, they laugh. When he raises his voice, their pens stop moving. They look up. And, when I get my kids home and ask them what the sermon was about, they know exactly what was said, down to specific details. They may appear to be bored, concentrating on their drawings instead of hearing a sermon, but the truth is that they are listening to every single word that is spoken.
I like and have often taught children’s church. At our church we don’t do children’s church during the summer, and I like that too because kids also need the opportunity to learn how to be a part of “big church,” the regular worship service. They need to be sitting with their parents, watching us as we worship. They need to begin building an understanding of how to be part of the service, how to function in a church environment that is not kids-only. They will benefit from having chances to worship as a family and not exclusively in age-graded environments, even if it’s not their favorite type of activity.