I love the first 15 minutes of church. In my church, like many others, this is the time kids are in the service with us. It’s the time our whole church family is together. It’s sometimes noisy, sometimes chaotic and I love it! But it’s more than just fun and noise; it’s actually a vital time in the spiritual life of the church.
Research tells us that one of the factors that contribute to kids continuing to trust in Jesus into adulthood is how well we bridge the generational gap in church. Rather than doing church for adults, with kids in attendance, we should be doing church for people of all generations.
The precious time before kids go to their age-specific programs is an excellent opportunity to do things in a way that bridges the generational gap.
Here are three ways you can use the things you’re already doing, to make the most of those first 15 minutes.
One of the great things about multiple generations being in church together is that we get to do church together. It sounds really obvious but sometimes our practice communicates something different.
An example of this is the simple question of where kids sit when they’re in church. I’ve often been in services where kids sit on the floor in the front of church or in pews at the back of church, for part or all of that time together. Whether it’s a way of creating room for more adults in the pews or getting kids down the front for a kids’ talk, when we physically separate kids from adults we lose our sense of togetherness.
In contrast, having kids and adults together, physically communicates that we are all part of the church and when we do church, we do it together. From singing songs to saying creeds, or hearing a kids’ talk, having different generations standing side by side is what church family is all about.
Have the Lord’s Supper together
The Lord’s Supper is a time to remember and reflect on God’s grace shown to us in Jesus. While it provides an opportunity for personal reflection, it’s fundamentally something that we share together as God’s people.
As a community we acknowledge our sin and repent of it, we hear a declaration of the forgiveness we have in Jesus and remember the price he paid to achieve that. Doing the Lord’s Supper while kids are in the service means parents and kids have an opportunity to do these things together but it also means that we all get to participate as a church family.
You can do this in the first 15 minutes of church, or bring kids back from kids’ church and do it in the last 15 minutes. Either way, it’s a great moment of both teaching and encouragement for the whole church.
Include kids in serving
Kids love to serve. The moment in any kids’ ministry when you ask for volunteers you’ll be overwhelmed with hands in the air. They want to be involved in the life of the church and they should be involved!
There are so many opportunities for serving in those first few minutes of church (and before church even begins) and many of these are things kids can do. The idea of getting kids involved can sound overwhelming but here are a few very easy ways it can be done:
Welcoming Some of the best welcoming I’ve seen at church has been done by kids. Give them a pile of something to hand out to people as they arrive at church and let them go. They’re usually determined not to miss anyone, which means every person who walks through the door gets greeted. Why not pair them up with an adult who’s gifted at starting conversations with visitors?
Bible reading Many kids love reading out loud, so why not add them to your Bible reading roster? You can encourage families to practice at home and do the reading together at church. It’s a great way to get kids involved and to encourage families to serve together.
Music Most churches have kids who play an instrument. And most churches sing one or two songs before the kids go to kids’ church. Why not use those songs as an opportunity for kids to join the music team?
These are just a few easy things you could do to start to bridge the generational gap in church. What other things is your church already doing that you could adapt to make the most of those first 15 minutes together?