Big Church Hurts


“The sermon has nothing to do with me.”

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Worship service topics are often at a higher intellectual level
than most elementary-age and younger children have the cognitive
ability to process. Additionally, because children tend to be
visual learners by nature and have short attention spans, they
can’t focus on a monologue for more than a few minutes. An
adult-focused message isn’t geared for kids, and therefore has no
relevance to their lives.
“I went to my parents’ service and I was always having to ask my
parents to explain what our pastor was saying,” says Jenna
Williams, a fourth-grader from Frisco, Texas.

This is a tough issue to overcome, because very few children’s
ministers have influence over what the pastor chooses to speak
about, and even fewer would lobby to make the weekly sermon
developmentally appropriate for kids. It’s just not going to
happen. So kids who sit through the sermon and listen usually walk
away with a very different message than adults do. They understand
clearly that this portion of the adult service applies to them in
no way.

“I must not be expected to worship because I can’t see
or read the lyrics.”

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Churches do a lot to make songs accessible to people, such as
printing lyrics in the bulletin and displaying them on video
screens up front. If you’re a 7-year-old or even a 12-year-old,
though, there’s a good chance you can’t read a lot of the words or
don’t know what they mean. Kids (and even adults) who are
unfamiliar with a tune may stand up, but they don’t participate
because they feel awkward. The ultimate result is that kids
interpret that they aren’t expected to participate in singing
praise because they can’t read or don’t understand worship


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