Engaging kids isn’t always easy in church, but it’s important for keeping families in your church. When kids are happy, their parents are more likely to attend on a regular basis.
Plus, as kids grow up in your church, they’ll return as adults when they’re finished with college. If they happen to move, your church will have inspired them to continue attending in a new area and hopefully, still interacting with your church online.
It’s important to know what kids want most from church since 43% of believers come to God by age 12. And, parents (over 50%) and ministry leaders (28%) have the biggest impact in helping children find their faith.
1. More Activity Please
Kids sit in classrooms all week. They want to get up and moving around. Often, they’re asked to either sit with their parents during services or in a small classroom.
Kids in your church want to run and play. It’s also a great opportunity to get them away from screens. Provide more active activities, such as skits and fun indoor games that teach while getting kids up and moving around. Kids typically learn better through play, so let them be active while learning.
2. Go Beyond Just Crafts
Crafts are great for Sunday school, VBS and special events. However, kids want to do more than just glue together Popsicle sticks. Mix up crafts with active activities, music and Bible study.
Kids want to do more than just have some busy work while the adults worship. They want to learn too. If they’re just making crafts all the time, they might feel like it’s more fun to stay home.
3. Sitting Still Is Too Boring
How many kids really like to sit still? This is often why families don’t attend church. They’re embarrassed by their kids fidgeting and whispering through services. While kids do have to learn to behave and sit still when necessary, they’re probably not taking in the sermon or even Bible studies.
For kids, church often feels like a boring class. Since they’ve dealt with classes all week for hours each day, they want a break on the weekend.
Give kids something to do. Create a place for kids to get up and move around without disturbing others. Provide faith-based games and activities. This is especially true for smaller kids.
If your church often has longer sermons, kids will get bored and either start moving around or fall asleep. Give them a place to move while still listening to the sermon or being taught a more child-friendly version.
4. Let Kids Go Outside
Be honest. Would you rather sit in a church on a bright, sunny day or be outside enjoying the fresh air? For most kids, this is a no-brainer. Kids in your church want you to know that the great outdoors is much more fun.
When the weather is nice, take them outside. Create a fenced in area for them to run and play. Write a shorter sermon for kids for your youth minister to share with them. Do this outside too. Then, let the kids play. When they get to have fun with their friends and learn too, they’ll definitely want to come back to church next Sunday.
5. Skip The Hymns, But Not The Music
Kids in your church aren’t usually fans of hymns. They’re slow and feel way too dated for kids. Just think about how you probably felt growing up. You may not have liked what your parents listened to and felt their music was just too old for you.
Kids want more upbeat music they can dance and sing to. You can even add some more upbeat Christian music to your regular services and let kids sing and dance beside their parents. This gives them a way interact without feeling bored. Plus, the music feels like it’s more for them, which engages them in a way that traditional hymns usually don’t.
6. Don’t Make Kids Go Upfront
While some kids love being the center of attention, others would prefer to skip that. It might seem like a good idea to ask kids to come to the front during services for a special kids’ message, but it’s just awkward for those who would rather crawl under the pew than walk to the front of a full church.
Sometimes, this alone is enough to make a child not want to come back. So, skip this part. If you’re doing a kids’ message, simply add it to your sermon and make everyone a part of it. This makes kids feel more like a part of the church family.
7. Make The Bible Kid-Friendly
Even adults have a difficult time reading the Bible. It’s not exactly like the books people normally read. Now, imagine that from a kid’s point of view. They’re not going to understand what you’re trying to tell them.
So, make the Bible more kid-friendly. Kids in your church do want to study the Bible, but not if they can’t read it or understand it. If you make it more approachable, they’re more eager to listen, read and learn.
Consider buying kid-friendly Bibles for your church. Also, teach scripture, but have a kid-friendly explanation for it. It’s even better if you can make it more relevant to what they’re going through. It’s a good idea to talk to kids and their parents to see what’s on their minds and what they’re struggling with.
8. Adult Services Are Boring
How many people do you see dozing in the pews on Sundays? If adults can’t stay awake, how are kids supposed to?
While your church’s sermons aren’t necessarily boring, they’re not the most engaging for kids. When it comes to adults falling asleep, it’s usually just because they’ve been busy all week and the soothing sound of the pastor’s voice lulls them to sleep.
For kids, the sermons are often too long and too difficult to understand. This leaves you two options. First, send kids to a separate area during services to have their own kid-friendly service and activities.
Second, make your services more engaging for everyone. Make sure it’s easy for kids to understand too. Add more visuals and music to keep their attention. And, offer more opportunities to stand up and get involved. You can even let kids ask questions.
Of course, a combination of the two often works best. Start services with the more kid-friendly portion of your sermon. Then, let kids go off to play while you go into the more adult aspects.
Letting kids be part of the adult services and making them engaging makes kids want to return. Plus, it helps families feel more connected and welcomed.
9. Let Kids Get Involved
Kids in church want to be involved with what’s going on. They like to help and have input. If they’re not engaged, talk to them. Ask them what they’d like to do.
Get them involved in creating lessons, have them put together skits about what they’ve learned and even ask them to put together questions to ask during regular services. When they know they’re going to have a say, they pay more attention and learn more.
10. Food Is Always Appreciated
Everyone loves snacks. As long as parents allow it, provide simple snacks for the kids. You can even have themed snacks, such as angel food cakes. You don’t have to provide much. A simple snack and something to drink is plenty.
You’ll definitely want to provide snacks that aren’t messy. When they’re finished eating, ask them to help with clean up. This teaches them to be more responsible and gives them a sense of being needed.
11. Learning God’s Word Is Important
Despite how it may sound, kids in your church want to learn God’s word. While they are probably attending just because their parents made them, that first visit is a chance to get them interested. However, it’s all kind of intimidating.
Just imagine trying to teach a seven-year-old advanced physics. If you just read to them from the Bible, they’ll be lost. Take them to the average sermon and they’ll be bored.
Kids don’t want to just play the whole time. They want to learn. They just want to do it in a more fun way. For instance, do a short five-minute lesson and follow it up with a bingo card. Instead of letters and numbers, there are pictures. As you read out tidbits from the lesson, they place pieces on the appropriate pictures.
Even if kids aren’t in with all the adults, they still want and need to learn God’s word too. This is your chance to engage them on their level.
12. Let Kids Be Kids
Kids aren’t adults, yet. They don’t have the same patience or interests as adults. What works for all the adults probably won’t work for the kids in your church family.
Instead of forcing them to act like mini-adults, give them room to be kids. Make sermons more engaging and kid-friendly. Provide a separate kids’ learning environment before or during services. Don’t get angry if they’re wiggling in their seats or suddenly call out a question.
They want to be a part of the church family, but they’re still kids. They can easily behave while still being a kid. Accepting them encourages them and their family to keep attending your church.
13. Make It A Safe Place
Sadly, church isn’t exempt from bullies. Much like with school, kids in your church might get bullied if you’re not paying close enough attention. This can make them see church as a bad thing. This is especially true for kids who are already bullied in school.
Make your church a safe place. Encourage every single child to report bullying or anything else that makes them feel uncomfortable or unsafe.
You should even tell them to talk with their youth minister if they’re having trouble at school. Sometimes, they’re more comfortable sharing something like that with someone other than their parents.
When you create a safe environment for kids to be friends without judgement, they’ll want to come back again and again.
14. Don’t Try To Be Hip
If you want to engage the youth in your church, don’t try to be hip. People have tried this for generations, but it always comes off as awkward and trying way too hard.
Instead of trying to be what you think the kids in your church want you to be, just talk to them. Let them guide you. Ask them about their interests and what they like and don’t like about youth ministry. It’s much easier to relate to them when you give them chances to tell you what’s important and what’s working for them.
15. Kids Have Questions…A Lot Of Questions
Even as an adult, you probably have a lot of questions. Now, think about how your mind worked as a child. You were curious about everything. What if no one wanted to answer those questions?
Kids in your church have a lot of questions. Even if they might seem silly to you, they’re important to kids. Spend time every week answering questions. This is a great way to end a sermon. Dedicate 10-15 minutes just for kids to ask questions.
Most adults will enjoy it and they’ll probably learn something too. Plus, it’ll teach church leaders what the youth of today are most concerned about.
If you don’t want to add this to your sermons, set aside time during Sunday school for questions. They don’t even have to pertain to that particular lesson either.
Another option is to ask parents to submit their child’s questions on social media. Then, the pastor picks 5-10 questions to answer each week during services. The rest can be answered on social media or your church blog.
16. Kids Want Something To Do At Home
Kids in your church want to continue exploring their faith outside of church. It’s not just your church’s job to help guide them. They also need their family. It takes family and the church family to grow a faithful child.
Provide resources for parents to help teach their kids more at home. You can offer prayers, kid-friendly Bible study lessons, activities and more. These are great resources to add to your church website and/or social media.
A great resource for engaging kids all week is your church website. Consider adding a kids-only section with appropriate videos, games and lessons. Check out our Google Grant Management services to help more families find your church website and help bring in more families to your church.