Ten tips for introducing your child to worship

Published on May 26, 2023

Worship the Lord with gladness (Psalm 100:2, NLT)

My husband and I served as copastors for thirty years, so when our three children came along, they were immediately welcomed into a loving congregation. This had its ups and downs. When one of them decided to make their presence known with a well placed shriek or an embarrassing comment during the children’s time, everybody knew exactly to whom those kids belonged. The congregation loved it, especially the cringe-worthy moments. Watching our kids act like everyone else’s kids connected us to the other parents in a unique and wonderful way. Our children learned church was a place where they were loved (and along the way, they learned church etiquette).

Introducing your child to worship is a wonderful part of raising children in the faith. 

A child’s first experiences in worship may begin as an infant or not happen until they reach school age. As a parent you may prefer your infants and toddlers to be in childcare during worship, or perhaps you are in a congregation where Sunday school and worship coincide. Whatever the case, your child’s introduction to worship should be an enriching part of their early faith journey. 

I hope these ten tips help as you think intentionally about introducing your child to worship. 

1. Attend a child-friendly church

A church that invites children to attend worship, that has a children’s time or a service where children are included, will not mind the joyful noise and commotion that comes with having young children in worship. A church that isn’t used to having little ones in service can learn to do so with the guidance and encouragement of church leaders. You can be the catalyst for this!

2. Bring your child to church on a day other than Sunday morning

Call the church office and make an appointment with a pastor, Christian education director, or church school teacher. Ask for a personal tour of the church facility. Locate the Sunday school rooms and bathrooms as well as the sanctuary. Let your child explore the sanctuary; see how it feels to sit in the pew/chairs, leaf through the Bibles and hymn books if the church uses them. Look behind the pulpit, communion table, and baptismal font, and ask the guide to explain their uses. 

3. Take home a worship bulletin to examine at home                                         

Many churches don’t have paper worship bulletins anymore, and if that’s the case, perhaps you can print one from the church website. Or simply make your own, listing the parts of worship in order. Let your child design or decorate the bulletin, or even write out the words (good practice!). Show your child there are times to sit, stand (and kneel in some places), sing, pray, and listen. If the Lord’s Prayer is used, write down the words and let your child practice at home, saying the prayer together. Prepare offering envelopes and let your child put money in the envelope. Explain that giving to the church helps take care of the church and the people, and it’s extra special when a child is part of that. Even a penny is of value—there’s Scripture to prove that!

4. Play “let’s go to church” 

Practicing the worship service at home will help your child feel more comfortable with what happens in worship. Let the child help light a candle if your church uses candles. Read a Bible story together, greet each other, pray, and sing joyfully! Practicing worship with your child is worshiping with your child in a new and delightful way.

5. Read the Bible and pray at home

One of my favorite Sundays of the year at our church is when children receive their first Bible during service. The thrill on the faces of the children, who often plop down on the steps in front of the congregation and start leafing through the pages, is priceless and a good lesson for the adults on the privilege and joy of reading God’s Word. Receiving a first Bible is a holy experience for children. Learn the stories in your child’s Bible, read them together, and encourage questions. Tell them the Bible is where we learn God’s story, and we are all part of that story.

6. Sit near an aisle or in a place where you can make an exit if needed

If your child needs to go to the bathroom or is feeling overstimulated or having a disruptive day, don’t be embarrassed. Walk your child out of the sanctuary until they can work off a little energy, then come back in. This is much easier if you don’t have to crawl across a row of other people.

7. Bring a worship notebook or bag

Many churches provide materials for children to use during worship, but if not, bring your own supplies. Colored pencils can be used to mark the parts of worship in the bulletin as you go through them. If your congregation uses hymnals or songbooks, get to church a few minutes in advance and use a bookmark for the songs to be sung that day. Have some coloring pages from a Bible coloring book or some blank pages for doodling. This is not disrespectful and can help your child listen more attentively. Have the words of the Lord’s Prayer printed on a page for the child to follow if he or she is of reading age. Let your child draw a picture of the music being sung or the story from the sermon, and give this to the choir director or pastor afterward.

8. Teach basic church etiquette

Speak to people before and after worship, and teach your child how to shake hands or simply wave if you are comfortable with this. If your child is shy, don’t force it! Always respect a child’s boundaries. Let the child help straighten up where you’ve been sitting, picking up any papers (or candy wrappers) rather than leaving them for someone else to clean up. Encouraging your child to take care of the church facility helps them feel like “this is my church!”

9. Get to know the pastor (if you’re not the pastor!)

Pastors of child-friendly churches love to get to know the children of the church. Introduce your child to the pastor after worship and participate in other church activities so the pastor becomes a friend and not a scary adult.

10. Don’t give up!

It may take awhile for your child to become comfortable in worship and learn how to sit quietly (some adults never learn this!). The best way for this to happen is to attend worship on a regular basis. There will be days when it doesn’t go well, but don’t let this stop you from going back. 

Sharing worship with your child can be one of the highlights of the week for you and for them. You are all learning together what it means to be part of the family of God.


Adapted in part from 99 Ways to Raise Spiritually Healthy Children by Kathleen Long Bostrom, 2010: WJKP, Louisville, KY.

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Kathleen Long Bostrom

Kathleen Long Bostrom is an award-winning author of over fifty books for children. Her books are published in over twenty languages. She is an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA) who now writes full time. As a middle child, Kathy was both the new baby and the older sister who later became a mother of three herself. She knows whereof she rhymes!

Read more about Kathleen

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