5 Tips for Worshiping Online as a Family
We've all made a pivot. We've adjusted our schedules, our working habits, our eating habits, and our worship habits. Our church went 100% online starting in March along with many others. This wasn't new for us but we've found ways to make it more meaningful for all age groups.
Our KiDS Min shifted their programming to give parents the curriculum online. Previously we would send home God-time cards and email information to let the parents know what the kids were learning about so that they could reinforce the stories and lessons at home. Now it is all on them. I imagine its overwhelming. My kids are past this stage. I still talk to them about God but it's more of a conversation now than teachable moments.
Most of the families at our church are used to having parents and kids in separate parts of the building on Sunday morning. The conversation about the prudence of that is better left for another post or better yet a FaceTime dialogue. But the reality for us is that this is the first time families might be worshiping together on a regular basis even if for just part of the service. If you're not used to doing that, it's not easy - especially in certain ages and phases of development.
Our church recently posted an article about the 7 Tips for Engaging in Live-Stream Worship. You can read the article here. Its a great article if your kids are older or if you have no kids in the house. But for families with younger kids there are a things I think I would add to help you during this season.
- Find a way to watch on your TV. - This might seem obvious for some of you but I know some families where the person most likely to encourage the family to attend church is watching exclusively on his/her device and therefore the family is not watching together. If you've been doing that for several weeks, you've created a habit that excludes the rest of the family. Its confession time, I did this on Easter. Easter was the first time we did an entirely pre-produced worship service so I worshiped in my jammies with my ear buds in. Despite the engagement in the chat, it was lonely. The next time we did a pre-produced service I hooked my laptop up to the TV in the family room with an HDMI cable. Two other family members joined me inspired by their own free will. The others remained in bed. It was so much better. Watch as a family. It will magnify the message. They won't watch all of it with you but they will see you keeping your faith a priority and that is priceless.
- Talk about worship beforehand. - In the article about engaging in live-stream worship it talks about setting the right mood for worship by possibly lighting candles or something similar. If you've ever lit a candle with a toddler around, you know this isn't always wise. Instead, talk about what worship is (a way to praise God and experience God). Tell your kids what your favorite part of worship is. Talk about what you miss by not being there in person. Ask them what they like best about KiDS Min. Discover what you have in common and what is unique about each person in the family. You might discover something new about your own faith in the process.
- Pray. Pray during the service but pray as a family before you watch that God will be revealed in the experience. Pray afterwards that God will sustain each of you throughout the week. Take the spiritual leadership of your family that God has given you. You can do this! If you need some inspiration about how to pray, check out this post. It might not seem just right at first but your prayers are beautiful to God no matter what. Show your kids what it means to pray and to be authentic. You've been handed a gift here. Use it.
- Participate. I'll confess. I don't sing during online worship. Maybe a little but not in the same way I do during in person worship. Mostly I look at the faces of people I don't get to see as often anymore and I mourn that I didn't appreciate that time as much as I should.have. I also don't say The Lord's Prayer out loud. I say it in my head. So how do I participate? Do you really want to know? The same way I do watching sports or a movie at home: I talk to the TV. I am more of an AMEN corner worshiper at home than I am in person. It's been very freeing to say "YES!" or "I don't know about that." or "I'm with you!" I rarely do that in person. I'm regretting that now.
- Discuss. What did you learn? Where did you see God? What will you do differently? Talk about these from a grown up perspective and a kid perspective. They need to hear you wrestle with these questions so that when they wrestle with them in the next phase of their lives, they know it is part of growing their faith. Asking questions isn't a lack of faith; it is a deepening and clarifying of faith. Also be sure to model that you don't always have to have an answer. Many books of the Bible end with a question and not a statement. It's okay for you to do the same.
These tips aren't meant to take the place of KiDS Ministry curriculum. That curriculum is written with each stage of development in mind and will engage their brains differently than watching other services with your child. You kid may not really engage at all during the worship service you are watching. They may distract you. They probably will take the most holy moment of the service to throw a tantrum to end all tantrums (until the next one). But your example will shape their faith and build the lens through which they make meaning of the world. You are the most important influence in their life. Don't let that intimidate you. Let that inspire you. You've got this. We're all cheering for you!
Until Everyone Hears,
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