Creating A Family Friendly Church
Attending church is an important activity for us as a family and it is important to us that our children enjoy church and are fed spiritually each week.
The church we attend had a lot of good things going for it when we arrived but since the creation of a Worship Committee, the church has come a long way in ensuring that it provides an interesting a meaningful worship service for all members each week. While the things we are doing are not radical, they aim to ensure that everyone, right from our children to our older members can gain a blessing. Here are some of the things we are doing in our church to reach as many people as we can.
Make sure your committee knows exactly what you are trying to aim for and what you are trying to achieve for your congregation’s worship experience.
Plan your program around the speaker’s topic Ultimately, we are in church to be fed God’s Word. It is important that the whole worship experience prepares people’s hearts to listen to this. To do this, choose songs, scripture readings, children’s stories and other elements of worship which relate to the speaker’s chosen theme.
Make the most of PowerPoint The reality is that we learn and appreciate more when a number of our senses are used. PowerPoint can add a lot to the presentation of worship. Using pictures and graphics, phrases and summary points that reinforce the message of the sermon, Bible texts (so everyone is reading from the same version – not to avoid bringing your Bible to church!) can all add to the worship service. My girls, being beginner readers, enjoy being able to read from the screen. This gives them an opportunity to pick up on the things that they did not hear from the speaker but also gives us the chance to interact with them and discuss the speaker’s message with them. I’m sure these advantages of a visual presentation also apply to our older members too! I cannot over emphasise the importance of making the most out of PowerPoint.
Include elements specifically for children
While we want children to listen and consider all parts of the service as important for themselves, it is important that they feel that they are especially included in the service. In our church we try to have action songs at the beginning of the praise time which we ask our children to come up the front and join in (fortunately we have a small church and this makes this easier!). Most often the children’s story ties in with the speaker’s topic to prepare them for the message of the day.
Involve people of all ages in the different elements of the worship
Ask different people (no matter how young or old!) to welcome, pray, lead out in song service, take the scripture reading – worship should be an interactive experience.
While singing slow, old hymns every week can be tedious for our young people, fast and furious new songs will not appeal to our older members. Providing a variety of styles and songs is important if we want our church to cater for all ages. I have found though that if our older members know that the ‘new’ song they are singing is related to the speaker’s topic they are quite happy to sing them. The concept of variety also applies to the structure of our service – don’t be afraid to try new ways of presenting the service, nor to rely on the old either!
Provide facilities for babies and young children
Make sure there is a parents’ room with a speaker so that parents can still hear the service even when attending to the needs of their children. We also have a small activity table in the back corner of the church to encourage parents who are concerned about their lively children to still attend. Provide pew packs, colouring pages, whatever it takes to make sure parents and their young children are comfortable in coming to church.
There will always be those in the congregation that will oppose things that are new and would prefer that church continue to follow the traditional structure it has had for years. Remember though that the positive voices will generally outnumber the negative. Pray, focus on God and spreading His word, and if you proceed in a loving manner you will gain support.
The reality is without families in our church, our churches will have no future. If we want families to attend, we must provide a meaningful worship experience for every member, young or old.