Tell me what your 'children's&
#39; or 'family' services are like at church?
Was talking to our Vicar last night about revising ours as they don't seem to be as successful as they once were.
One of the main problems seems to be that on a family service we don't have a creche, the idea being that we are all together in church. But it just seems that parents are getting fazzeled and children get fractious. The chorus's are more child based, the vicar usually does a very simple talk (with magic tricks!) and the Sunday School children are involved in the service in some way.
But it just doesn't seem to be working.
What is the format of your services?
Our church has started flag waving! We have lots of large and small fabric flags in really bright colours and anyone is welcome to wave a flag either standing with the vicar or anywhere they feel comfortable, during the hymns! It certain gets the children interested, since alot of them are too young to know the words or read! Its always a stampeed out of the pews as soon as the vicar says , 'we'll sing now!' We also have a lot of guest speakers, like CRIBS or one day we had the Arch Decon come with his Harley Davidson! He brought it right into the church! If its a family/uniformed organisations service he always does something to ge the children involved. We also have a power point presentations.
I've come to the conclusion that family services are a bit of a waste of time - I know the idea is that you can all sit together, but it is rarely a happy experience imo, especially with under 7s - perhaps over 7s it is different, but my kids all MUCH prefer Sunday School, they learn more, the parents enjoy being in the service more without them, it's more fun all round!
Whereas being IN a service with your children, means lots of 'don't talk, whisper, sit down, no you CAN'T have anything to eat - oh ok, I'll take you to the toilet then'
all the kids sit at the front in front of the vicar, and they will have learnt a song in sunday school to do for it. A couple of the older kids may do readings as well.
It works well here, but they are used to lots of kids and are very relaxed about it, no-one minds if the kids wander about for example.
I like the flag waving!
No one minds children wandering about, and we have toy bags for the very young children, it's jsut that this service seems to have become hard work
there are only 9 children at our church 5 of them are mine
The vicar does a lot to make them feel included such as asking them questions looking at what they have made in Sunday school (which is a bit hit and miss at the moment)
nobody seems to mind if they make a noise (except the parents)
Like the flag waving idea though x
wouldn't call our church exactly a role model for anyone, but anyway; the services seem extremely 'adult' to me (which is partly why I go there) and we have Godly Play every fortnight for 3 - 11s which is well done IMO although I would feel more comfortable with a very old-fashioned Sunday school where you win a Crunchie for knowing all the books of the Old Testament etc.
I find true family services that I have been to just don't work for me on any level at all. Hopelessly unChristian but I'd say reinstate Sunday school, but keep the children in at the beginning of the service and make the first and last hymns family-friendly ones - cheerful, tuneful, no Paracletes but plenty of To be a pilgrim.
Our under sixes still go out after a while and the minister then has a talk to appeal to the children.
He asks questions and throws sweets about to the people who give the right answer...not everybody is happy with that, but he does it anyway.
This is always the first Sunday of the month and the Brigades turn up with flags as well.
No waving of flags though
Lots of flag waving, instrument bashing and generally fun. There is an area at the back of the church (not enclosed) where kids can play, draw etc, but they are encouraged to join in with dancing and singing.
No-one minds the kids are running around, and the vicar usually interacts with them if one of them tears up to the front (usually ds). Most sundays the kids are out in sunday school so the odd week of general chaos seems to go down ok (although the old dears sat in front of me last sunday were NOT amused with the service the 'student' delivered )
In ours the creche still runs (under 3's) but all the other kids are in.
Plenty kids songs with actions and instruments (we have loads of space for dancing around), use of videos, perhaps a dedication, simple talk by the children's pastor or youth pastor, and often something interactive.
Recently we had one where families could pray together - you could go to one of several stations - eg a water feature you could touch together to symbolise peace, a bowl of oil to symbolise healing, a cloth 'flame' (cloth on a fan that blew it up in the air) to symbolise giftings etc. It was all very simply explained and then we all moved around the church visiting the different bits - our kids loved it.
Or I was at one when we were praying for others - a station with little bits of bread, to pray for the hungry, one with a world map and drawing pins to pray for specific countries, etc....
Our church is very child friendly, 120 kids, part time children's pastor, ft youth pastor, and kids are made welcome and there's no pressure if they're noisy etc. We have a family service once a term, and its usually OK, though my 3yo has just started joining in and she still gets a little bored - but then she usually goes to sleep!
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