You know, the sermons people say they actually listen to

Bishop Willimon’s thoughts on children’s sermons have returned to me. First, I read the blog post; then it was reprinted in The United Methodist Reporter. So, I’ve been thinking. Overall, his point is well taken, and I agree with his principle. Here are a few thoughts I would add (or affirm).

You know sometimes you want to go up front when the pastor calls the children!
In many ways children’s sermon are beneficial. It can be a meaningful time. Yes, people tend to speak over their heads, but how much more so than a normal sermon? Yes, the pastor should visit Sunday school classes and other events and activities of the children. What a blessing, though, to pray with our children on Sunday mornings; that’s what I look forward to. At Oak Haven the children go directly to our Children’s Church after the children’s sermon (moments). This gives me a chance to pray that God would speak to them and they would learn to become better disciples of Christ—the same prayer for adults.

Nothing offered to God is a waste. So, most children’s sermons aren’t a waste. However, most are uncomfortably self serving. I get you like children; you like to make people laugh; you can be funny. But please don’t use God’s name, and our children, to get your kicks. That’s a little to Third Commandment for me. All that said, the children’s sermon can be a great way to help teach children discipleship.

I’m no expert, but I have done many children’s sermons and heard many more good ones and those that have driven me up the wall. With that I’ll offer these points of consideration:

  1. Prepare! Do not expect to get by. These are real lives you are interacting with. Take time to consider what you know about them, what the Scripture for Sunday is really about and how you can faithfully communicate that to them. Never wing it.
  2. Illustrations stick. Good ones, that is.
  3. Candy? These children will grow up in a world that teaches them to expect things in return; don’t add to that. Unless your candy is a good illustration save it for later.
  4. Include the congregation. Have the congregation answer your questions, or invite them to sit with you as well. Ask them to pray, too (One time I had the children sing to the congregation You Are Loved. I wish I had been sitting in a pew that Sunday!)
  5. No, Pastor. I’ll do this one. The pastor doesn’t have to be the only one who teaches the children (remember this?).
  6. Speak Up. Now, this seems more practical than anything, and it does have practical qualities. But if you are crafting good children’s sermons it will also help teach your congregation. I’m not talking about Sunday’s lesson, but how to communicate faith to young people. So, as a congregant, I need to be able to hear you.

You could probably write a book on this subject. Oh, wait that market’s already been hit. Still, this is what goes into some of my preparation for this time of our worship. What about you? What kinds of experiences do you have with children’s sermons? What makes a good children’s sermon, if we need one?

Stay blessed…john

0 Responses :