I’ve been a part of a few different churches that did family services on the 5th Sunday of 5 Sunday months. This happens four times a year. Some others choose to have family services on special holidays (Mother’s Day, etc.)
Some of the benefits of whole family services that we saw were:
#1. It gave the Sunday service workers 4 breaks a year on a Sunday morning.
#2. Some of our families like to have their young children sit with them in service. This provided a scheduled time to do that.
#3. Children were able to experience the large congregation setting that they would some day engage in on a weekly basis.
#4. It provided opportunity for the children’s ministry leadership to be exposed to the Sunday morning congregation.
#5. It introduced the senior pastor to the children of the church. (Many children wouldn’t have been able to recognize him before that.)
I’m not a big proponent of Family Services, though I’ve done them in the past. Here’s why: Usually a Family Sunday ends up being a regular adult service that children are forced to endure. I don’t think that this makes them feel a part of the church. I think it makes them dread the day that they will have to enter the sanctuary and try to sing songs they don’t understand (try is a key word) and listen to a speaker standing behind a pulpit that uses no visuals and uses big words. When the children stand to sing with the congregation, all they can see is the backside of the adult who is standing in the pew in front of them. When children are forced to sit through a service that is not relevant to them, they get squirmish. Then, the parents have to try to keep the kids focused. This becomes frustrating for the kids and the parents.
So, my recommendation is this. If you are going to have a family service, it needs to be tailored to hold the attention of the child. Sing songs that the children already know. (They could learn these in the children’s services in the weeks prior to the Family Service). Use visuals or storytelling during the sermon. The pastor could provide sermon notes for the congregation, and have a space on the sermon notes for a child to draw/color a picture that pertains to the Bible story that he tells as part of the sermon. Drama, or a unique costume character, would be a plus.
I believe that making biblical teaching relevant makes kids feel like they are part of the church. I don’t believe that making them sit with their parents through an adult-oriented service makes them feel like a part of the church. If anything, it makes them conclude that adult services are irrelevant to their lives. (We don’t want to teach them that.)
There have been times when we’ve done Family Services in the children’s area. We have Open House Sunday, or a series of them, so we can fit all the parents in. That way our parents start to understand what is going on in the kids area. We believe that is just as important (or more) as for the kids to understand what’s happening in the adult area.
I tell people, If you want to have family worship, you need to come to the children’s service with your children. Your children will get a lot out of it, and fact is, you will, too, because we are teaching the same Word of God as is being taught in the adult service, only we illustrate it with visuals and break it into smaller bite-sized pieces so they can chew it up and digest it!
I’m sure you also agree with me that Family Worship needs to be taught as a priority, not so much at church, as it should be in the individual homes. I believe that we should expose our children to family worship on a daily basis, not just for an hour on a Sunday morning every now and then. Kids need to see their parents worship, and not just inside the four walls of a church. That’s what will change a child’s life. Family Worship needs to be more than a one-hour block on a Sunday morning. It needs to be modeled throughout the week.
So, let me conclude by saying, Family Worship on a Sunday at your church could be a real positive thing as long as the services are geared to hold the attention of the children and to meet their needs. Honestly, I believe that children have the same spiritual needs as adults do. It’s just the presentation that makes the teaching appear relevant or irrelevant to specific age groups.
I pray that God leads you and your pastor as you strive to build up the saints…whatever their age may be…and bring them together into a spirit of unity.
© by Rev. Randy Christensen