The art of the children's sermon

January 13th, 2015

Children’s sermons can be the most awkward time of the whole worship service for the pastor, yet they are as much a part of worship as the congregational prayer, the sermon, and the benediction.  This is not a time for children to be on display for the congregation; it is a time to include the children in the worship service and to speak the Scripture to them in their language. Including children in worship means taking time to learn their language and to speak that language. 

The children’s sermon is the art of proclaiming the Word of God from a different perspective.  Speaking the Scripture to the children means that the pastor needs to prepare in the same manner and with the same intentionality as the rest of the worship service. When preparing to lead children in a children’s sermon, keep in mind the following things:

  1. Children are children. They will talk, and wiggle, and laugh. Children, especially young children, have a very short attention span. Don’t try to overdo your time with them. Keep the whole time together under five minutes.
  2. What age are most of the children? If most of the children coming forward for the children’s sermon are 2 to 4 years old, your illustrations and comments need to be age-appropriate. If most of the children are 9 or 10 years old, you will phrase your comments differently. Young children do not get the “God is like” connections or the moral statements we add onto our stories. They will smile back at you and want to tell you all about the new kittens next door.
  3. Make the sermon time simple and to the point. The younger children will bore quickly and the older ones will become confused.
  4. Don’t ask questions. Questions will be answered with very long, detailed stories or complete silence. You make the statements and you present the information.
  5. All children love to hear stories. Invite the children into a time of story telling and tell the biblical story; you can never tell the scriptural stories enough. Consider the Scripture for the sermon. If you are following the lectionary, there is usually a good story to be told from the Scriptures. You don’t need to end the story with a moral point. Just tell the story then pray.
  6. Remember, in some churches the children do not hear the Scripture read or proclaimed. This might be the only opportunity to share Scripture with the children. 
  7. The most important part of the children’s moment or sermon is connecting with the children.  The children need to see the love of Christ in you. If you are serving a larger congregation, this may be your most intentional time with the children. If you are serving a smaller congregation, this time will reflect your established relationship with the children. Really, that is all the children care about.
  8. This is a great opportunity for children to learn to pray aloud. Use this time to have the children do an echo prayer with you. You say a line, they repeat that line. Don’t make the lines too long, and don’t use large words. Make the prayer short and direct.

This is not a magic formula, but it does offer you a foundation for preparing for your time with the children. Keep these points in mind to make the children’s sermon great.  

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