Struggling with the children's sermon

July 13th, 2015

I often find myself struggling with the children’s moment and children’s sermon during Sunday morning worship celebrations. Perhaps you can share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section and we can get a conversation going.

I sometimes wonder, “Who does this really benefit?” Because, really, isn’t it the adults who enjoy the sight of children sitting in the front of the church next to the pastor more than the children who are forced to sit there? It’s cute to see the kids squirm. It’s endearing to hear children give an answer to a question about the Bible. It’s adorable when they do “kid” stuff. It reminds us of our future — that we may actually have a future.

Then there’s message. I’ve been told many times that it’s during the children’s sermon that people really get the message of the gospel — that their “ears perk up because they can understand the message.” I was always offended when I heard that as an adult and as a pastor. What? Am I so dumb that I can't understand the pastor’s “regular” sermon? Am I such a bad preacher that I can’t explain the good news of the Gospel?

And what do you preach on? I know pastors who believe that the children’s message should not be something that’s, well, childlike. I once heard a children’s message that went something like this:

A rabbit’s mom was sick and dying. The rabbit went on a long journey to a distant mountain to get a potion that was the only cure for his mom. After days of hard and long travel, he finally arrived on the mountain and was able to get the potion that would save his mom’s life. The rabbit was thrilled and couldn’t wait to get home to help his mom. But on the way down from the mountain, there was an avalanche and, while the rabbit survived, he was buried deep in the snow. The rabbit didn’t know which way was up or which way was down. So the rabbit poured the potion out of the bottle to see which way was up. He was able to make his way out, but the medicine that could save his mom was gone. And there was no way for him to get back to the top of the mountain. He went home to his mother and shared with her the horrible news. He took care of her until she died. Sometimes, kids, we don’t know the right thing to do. Let’s pray.

A few kids cried as they were led to their Sunday school.

Was I being too sensitive in thinking, “Maybe I wouldn’t tell that story to a 5-year-old?”

Then there’s the, “Hey! Jesus loves you! Yay! Let’s pray!” Which is great and energetic. It gets the kids to laugh. It’s short and sweet and to the point. But it feels so empty. It feels like, “Hey, the kids are coming up. Let’s entertain them before we get on with the real show. Yay!”

How do you find a middle ground between the two examples? Is it necessary to find the middle ground?

Is it even necessary to have a children’s sermon as part of the worship celebration? Do the children really benefit from it? What are some effective ways to really make the most of this time we have with the children in worship?

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