Friday, December 21, 2012

4 ways to get kids comfortable in church

One of my favorite things about going to a small-town church is how comfortable Brady feels there. He is used to the routine, has no problem talking to people and often asks questions of the pastor afterwards.

He sees his old kindergarten teacher, kids he knows, paraprofessionals from school and his babysitters (our pastor's family)!

I grew up in the Catholic Church and while the services are beautiful and moving, they were also fairly rigid. As a child, I felt distant from the service and Priest and had a hard time connecting. I want Brady's experience to be different.

I think there are a lot of ways to help children even in a large church feel comfortable and at home there.

1) Introduce them right away to the Pastor, Pastor's spouse and children. They are the sort of Mother and Father of your church family and it gives the child a personal view of who is speaking.

In our case, Brady was baptized at age 4 in Florida and met with the pastor at length beforehand to help him feel less nervous. Since then he seems to see pastors as accessible people which I think is great. It helps that our current pastor's daughter is his babysitter!

2) Have them in service with you whenever possible. When I moved to Kansas, I wanted Brady to be in a separate children's church like he was in Florida. But I'm so glad now that he is in service with us. He picks up things from the sermons he hears and it has led to amazing conversations about life, the Bible, God and behavior. He learns from the service.

3) Participate in informal activities like potlucks, caroling, Bible school, youth group, volunteering, anything to connect more with your church family and get to know them and them know you.

4) Bring the spiritual feeling of church to your home. That can happen in many ways, whether saying Grace or praying at bedtime, praying for people in your community or when you see or hear an ambulance, playing Christian music, or talking about what it means to live as a Christian in your daily life. Have a Bible that is for your child alone, his or her own personal tangible connection to God and spirituality.

And being a former Catholic, I still have Rosaries, Crosses and statues of Mary and St. Christopher in my house. These tangible expressions of spirituality give us all comfort.

It's my hope that Brady will always see church as a welcoming, comforting, safe place where he can learn and grow and be better. I hope it will help him to continue down this path as he grows up and becomes his own man.

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