If you grew up in the US, especially if you were raised in the southeast, you attended Sunday School. Depending on the church you attended, you may also have heard special children's sermons. All this is generally referred to as “Children’s Church” and it is usually overseen by a children’s minister at most churches. The trend in modern Christianity is for churches to have programs and staff specifically for the young people in the congregation. They are usually divided into the nursery for the ones under 4 years old, children’s church for those aged 5 to 5th grade, and youth programs for those in the 6th to 12th grades. One of the primary responsibilities of the children’s minister is to prepare children’s sermons for the service each week.
In the Christian church over the last 50 years, it become more and more common for children to have a separate worship service on Sunday mornings from the adults. For most of Christian history, families went to church together and sat in the same service together. However, in the late 1700’s, English churches started offering Sunday School to educate illiterate children who worked during the week and could not attend school. These programs grew into what we now call Children’s Church.
How Has Worship Changed?
Until recently, these have been seen as positive programs for both parents and children. In the beginning, Sunday School gave children a much-needed education. Most of the poor children who attended Sunday School would not have learned to read were it not for their church. Over time, as the scope and purpose of these classes changed, the concept of Children’s Church was introduced. Now, modern churches typically offer morning worship services, Sunday School classes, and worship services with children's sermons specifically for children and youth.
There is a lot of debate over whether this division of worship is the best thing for families. Those who are in favor of children's sermons argue that each age group needs to focus on discipleship and worship at an age-appropriate level. Proponents for this type of Sunday morning schedule believe each group is better served separately, and that there are other opportunities available for families to worship together, such as special holidays.
There are good arguments on both sides of the issue. However, there are some definite benefits to Sunday morning programs for children. Some of those benefits include:
Once you’ve decided to have a children’s program at your church, you’ll need to come up with a format and content that draws in and keeps children interested. Delivering a children's sermon is different than delivering one to adults. Here are some tips for delivering children’s sermons:
Lead With Fun
Before you present spiritual material, do something that gets the attention of the children. This can be a fun activity or game. Pick something that relates to the lesson and gets them moving. Then, proceed with your children's sermon.
Keep It Simple
Young children are not ready to fully grasp concepts like redemption, salvation, justice, or predestination. This is why young children shouldn’t be pressed to be “saved.” Keep the messages simple, yet meaningful.
Tell A Story
Children thrive on narrative. They learn a lot by watching characters in a story make decisions for good or bad and face consequences. Children will apply things they see a fictional character go through to themselves. This is the basis for all educational programming on television. So tell a story and don’t interpret it for them. Let the children draw their own conclusions.
Rotate The Responsibility
Most churches now have a dedicated children’s pastor. This can be great because he or she can focus on creating material just for kids. However, it’s important for the children to hear from the other staff members. Create opportunities for the senior pastor or the youth pastor to give the children's sermons. Or, allow the children a chance to teach each other.
Get On Their Level
When you are teaching children, do your best to get on their level. Sit in front of or with them. Ask them to join you at the front as a volunteer. Be with them rather than over them.
Don’t Talk Down
Children are not stupid. They know the difference between conversation and someone talking down to them. No matter what level you think the children are functioning on, talk to them like you would anyone else. Make word choices and story choices in your children's sermons that are age appropriate, but watch your tone.
15 Engaging Children's Sermons Ideas
If you’re having trouble planning your children’s sermons, here are some ideas that will engage and educate:
The Tower Of Babel
Use a set of building blocks to get the kids moving. Jumbo-sized blocks are even more fun. Challenge the kids to see how tall a tower they can build before it falls over. Once they’ve tried and discovered the tower can only get so tall before toppling, use the activity to segue into the Bible story.
Honor Your Mother And Father
You will need a set of markers, scissors, some construction paper, and string. Have each student draw another student’s name. Have them cut a circle from the paper. On it, they should write something good that the student whose name they drew has done. Then, help them put the “medal” on some string. Have a “ceremony” where they place the medals around each other’s necks and state the good thing the other person did. Use this to teach how they should also honor their parents.
The 90 And 9
Bring in 100 stuffed sheep. You can have the children help by having everyone bring an animal or two. Put all the sheep except one at the front of the room so they can see how many 99 is. Hide the last one and have them find it. Use this to explain that even if God had 99 sheep, he would keep looking for the last one.
Fishers Of Men
Use toy fishing rods with magnets attached to the hooks to “catch” a variety of objects. Use this game to tell the story of how Jesus asked his followers to be “fishers of men.”
The Light Of The World
Have everyone sit down and remain seated. Turn off the lights and light a flashlight or candle. Place a bucket over the light. Use this lesson to explain that the purpose of a light is to shine in the darkness.
Love One Another
Use a basin or bucket to break a small saucer into large pieces. Carefully glue them together so the children can see it. Explain how the cracks will always be there and teach how this is what happens when we don’t love one another.
Children Of The World
Using jelly beans or M&Ms, have the children guess what’s inside the candy. Then, open a few pieces of different colors to show that the insides are all the same. Use this to teach that we are all the same on the inside, which is what God sees.
Bring in a large, clear bowl filled with water. Using a tiny dropper, put a drop of dark food coloring into the bowl. Let the children see that the color dissipates and changes the color of the water. Use this to show that just a little faith can still make a difference.
Plank And Speck
You’ll need another staff member. Place a small dot on your face using a black marker. Have the other staff member enter with a large “plank” (cardboard) across their forehead. Without acknowledging the plank, have them point out the speck on your face. Use this to tell the Bible story about fixing yourself before you fix others.
Jesus Paid It All
Use a volunteer from the children. Explain that you have gotten into trouble and this student has agreed to pay your debt. Talk with the volunteer beforehand so they understand what to do. Have the children discuss whether this is fair. Then, teach how Jesus paid a debt for all of us.
The Great Commission
Ask for a few volunteers. Tell them a happy secret in front of the others and ask them not to tell. Move on with another “lesson” while they try to keep the secret. As the kids ask about the secret and teach how Jesus didn’t want us to keep the Good News to ourselves.
Adam And Eve
Place some candy under each of the children's’ seats. Ask them at the beginning of the lesson not to eat the candy. When it’s time for the lesson, see who still has candy. Use this to teach the temptation of Adam and Eve.
Noah And The Ark
For the sermon, ask the children to put together a box out of cardboard. Have them decorate it, but don’t tell them why. Then, do a candy toss and have them catch it in their buckets. Explain the story of Noah and how he had to build something without knowing why.
Have the children construct a Mobius strip out of long pieces of paper. Then, have them try to find the end and explain it. Use this to explain the mystery of eternity.
The Love Of God
Use a “bottomless” magic bag for illustration. You’ll need an assistant. Place a coin or candy in the magic bag. Have the assistant hidden out of sight. Ask for a child to reach into the bag and take the prize and verify the bag is now empty. Have the assistant place another prize in the bag secretly. Have another child come up and reach into the bag. Repeat this several times. Use this to teach that God’s love never runs out.
If you are responsible for the children's sermons at your church or another place of worship, it’s a hard job. Children can be demanding and frustrating, but as a leader, you want to do the best for them. This list of children’s sermons will help you find engaging material to keep them listening. Whether you believe in separating children for a service or teaching them in the main service with everyone, these children's sermons will keep your little ones engaged as well as touch their hearts.