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  • Writer's picturemattlillicrap

Engaging with a Live-Streamed Service as a family

The Coronavirus situation is forcing all of us to re-think the way we do so much, including church. How do we live as God’s people when we can’t gather as God’s people?

One way most churches are trying to help is by recording or live-streaming services on Sundays. That’s going to be a learning experience for everyone, from those preaching to all of us watching. The danger is that we disengage and miss out on a central part of how God build his people. 

Let’s face it, it’s going to be hard at times. Especially where we’re gathering around a screen as a family. But it’s also a fantastic opportunity to grow as a family in worshipping God together. I really believe it could be an enormous opportunity for so many families to grow in faith together. So, here are some thoughts on how we might help our families with younger children engage with the service.

1. Relax

What parent hasn’t sometimes been on edge that their kids are in danger of disturbing others in church? Well, now they can be loud and wriggly and it’s not so much of a problem! 

There will be weeks when it feels like everyone has engaged really well… there’ll be other times when it’s all gone wrong, it feels like no one has listened, and you haven’t been able to either. That’s ok. The regular act of getting together as a family to ‘do church’ will speak volumes to your children about what is important and why.

2. Help each other watch Talk about what is being done or said in the service, point out important things, but also just ask observational questions… (Which biblical character does Julian remind you of? What do you think of Matt’s shirt this week?)

3. Join in

It’s going to feel weird for some of us to sing along with the songs in the service, but just go for it. Maybe your children could play musical instruments too. For small children, if it’s rattly, bangy, shaky, jingly, then it’s a great thing to praise God with! And again, the noise is only an issue for the people in the room!

4. Have your bibles open

Grab a bible and turn to the passage. Help children who can read find it and follow along. If you have a children’s bible which covers the sermon passage, perhaps open that for younger ones to show where they are in the Bible.

5. Write and draw notes

There are all sorts of ‘sermon notes for children’ tools, but I have used with my kids which they have really enjoyed which gets them to look out for the big ideas in the sermon, write what they learn about Jesus, and has a big space for them to draw what they hear.

6. Be imaginative

Is there a theme in the sermon which prompts a craft idea you could do after the service? There could even be a point where it’s worth pausing and doing an activity before restarting again.

7. Share what you’ve learned

Maybe you could WhatsApp a picture of your family’s craft to a church group. At Eden we’re looking into setting up an online message board for everyone to use.

At Eden we'll be working on different resources for families and children to use, and I'm sure many other churches will, but you know your children best. Could you raid the recycling bin to make a model together? Could someone draw a picture of the key event in the Bible passage? If you can spot one big idea in the sermon, could you learn it and put actions to it?  

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