Last week, after a mom read our post on making Sunday a Fun Day, she had another question, “How do you get your kids to want to go to church?” Has YOUR child ever said, “I don’t want to go to church, it’s boring?”
Guess what, your child is probably right; church can be boring for them. Think about it. They are sitting on a bench that is so tall their feet can’t touch the ground. The pew in front of them is so high they can’t see out of their row, all they can hear is talking, talking, talking, most of which they don’t understand. Sound fun? Not to me.
A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints asked this question. We are members of this church so the answers we write are geared toward our religion. But we suspect this issue is not specific to any one denomination. With that said, we know that many of these thoughts and ideas could be tailored to fit anyone’s needs
Becky Bailey author of Easy to Love Hard to Discipline writes that parents should stop trying to control their children’s feelings. Children have the right to all their feelings. I agree with this idea but sometimes it’s hard to know what to say when our children express feelings we don’t like, or don’t understand. So if your child says they feel like church is boring, what should you say?
You might be tempted to say something like, “church is not boring” or, “Too bad, you’re going anyway”. Instead try to understand why they feel the way they do and ask something like, “What part of church feels boring to you?” or “What could we do to help church not feel so boring to you?” Or, “I know it’s not as fun as other things, but it’s important for us to go because it helps us learn more about Jesus and show Him that we love Him.”
So, what’s to be done? Here are a few ideas that might help your child enjoy church more:
Cookie Sunday- Our family did this when our children were young. During Sacrament meeting kids had a pad of paper and they wrote a few key words (or drew a picture depending on their age) to help them remember stories or ideas they hear from the speakers. For every idea they wrote, they got a cookie when they got home (these ideas need to be about something the speaker said, not like my kids would sometimes try to get away with like, “he had on a red tie”)
Make a Sunday Book – Our Sunday book was a 3-ring notebook containing pictures of Jesus through out his life (I used pictures from the New Testament section of the Gospel Art Kit). I slid them into plastic pocket protector sheets. You can also add blank paper for drawing and a pencil bag with a few colored pencils. Also, scripture based quiet books are a great idea, homemade or purchased, or non-sewn types.
Friend magazine– If you never seem to get around to using it at home, take it to sacrament meeting. Let your kids look through it and do the activities on the Funstuff page or other activities that look interesting (I did draw the line at using scissors at church, we took Scotch tape to church but not scissors). They can dog ear the corner of the pages of things that can’t be done during Sacrament meeting that they want to do when they get home, or stories they want read to them later.
Lead the music – Tell your children to watch the music director as she leads the songs (also page 384 of the LSD hymnbook shows how to lead music). Show them how to draw shapes in the air: square (for 4/4 time), triangle (for ¾ time), and a smile shape (for 2/4 or 6/8 time). Show them where the time signature is on the music and when each hymn is sung have them watch the music leader or the hymnbook and follow them with small hand movements that can only be seen by those sitting on your row.
Narrate the sacrament (or communion)- If your child is a toddler or young pre- schooler, when the sacrament starts stand them stand up on the bench close to you (this shows them there is a lot going on outside your pew). Whisper quietly to them what is happening during the sacrament. Explain every step, in detail. It’s okay to use some words you know your child does not know yet. Your comments should include gospel teachings, not just who is walking where.
Example:“It’s time for the sacrament, watch, the Priests are going to take the white cloth off the sacrament table and we’ll be able to see the trays of bread and the cups of water. See them?”
“Now it’s time for the blessing on the bread, one boy who holds the priesthood is going to pray and bless the bread, let’s close our eyes and bow are heads and listen”
“Now the deacons are going to stand up all at the same time and go get trays of bread, watch. Now they are going to take the bread to the bishop, the deacons give the bread to the bishop first, see, bishop is taking a piece of bread. The deacons can pass the sacrament because they hold the Aaronic Priesthood”
“Look, now they are coming to bring the bread to us. When they get here, we’ll take the tray and take just one piece of bread. The bread reminds us that Jesus body hung on the cross and died for us. He was resurrected and we can be resurrected too.”
You get the idea? There is a certain age where this is really affective and they will listen as long as you talk and point things out.
As with many things, this can seem a little overwhelming, but remember that even one or two small changes can make a big difference. Good luck!
What do you do that works well? Do you have any successes to share?