25 Tiny Ways to Welcome Kids in Church
Article reposted. First posted at TGC written by Megan Hill on November 28, 2022.
My kids decided they wanted to commit to our current church well before my husband and I did. On our first visit, our three young boys were met by teenagers who offered fist bumps, Sunday School teachers who introduced themselves with a smile, and a church elder who taught them the secrets of his signature sleight-of-hand trick.
The church didn’t have children’s ministry staff or polished kids’ programs. What it did have was people who liked kids. And that was more than enough for my children.
The little things church members did when my kids were small taught them to expect to be included and valued every Sunday—no matter how old they get.
In the years since, the congregation members have continued to express love for my kids in dozens of ways. My boys have grown into teenagers, and have been joined by a younger sister, but they still know who is prepared to give them a LifeSaver and who is always up for a discussion of the big game yesterday. They also know who is praying for them. As a result, they walk into church on Sundays believing they belong. The little things members did when they were small taught them to expect to be included and valued every Sunday—no matter how old they get.
Whatever the size or resources of your church, it can be a place where little kids know they are welcome. Just like adults, kids in the church flourish when they are known, loved, served, and engaged. And it often doesn’t take much.
Consider 25 tiny ways to welcome kids in church.
Know (Make Kids Feel Seen)
Look kids in the eye.
Get down on their level (while giving them personal space).
Learn kids’ names and use them.
Tell them your name.
Ask them about their interests and follow up in future weeks.
Regularly greet the shy and reserved kids, not just those who are easy to talk to.
Love (Make Kids Feel Valued)
Say “I’m so glad you’re here!”
Give kids a high five, fist bump, or handshake (a kid-appropriate “holy kiss,” 2 Cor. 13:12).
Take time to stop and listen when kids tell stories about their week.
Carry mints or other small treats to give to kids (with parent permission).
Say “I’m sorry” when you’ve sinned or been thoughtless, and say “I forgive you” when a child apologizes to you.
Say “See you next week!” or “See you Wednesday at kids’ club!” when worship is over.
Serve (Make Kids Feel Supported)
Explain to visiting kids (not just to their parents) where to find facilities like Sunday School rooms, the coat rack, and bathrooms.
Tell kids what to expect for the day’s schedule. Show them where their parents are going and tell them where they’ll meet them when the kids’ activities are over.
Notice kids who look lost or confused and ask “Is there anything I can help you with?”
Have allergy-friendly and kid-approved snacks and drinks at fellowship time and kids programs.
Provide options like quiet rooms, accessible bathrooms, and classroom aides for kids with special needs.
Offer to help the kids sitting near you find songs in the hymnal and Scripture readings in the Bible.
Ask “How can I pray for you?” Remember to follow up the next week.
Engage (Make Kids Feel Useful)
Ask kids to assist with small tasks like passing out bulletins, picking up trash after services, or moving chairs.
Assign kids to be “buddies” to visiting children to make them feel welcome.
Tell kids “It was great to hear you singing in worship. It encouraged my heart.”
Tell kids “Thank you” or “Good job!” whenever you see them doing something helpful or kind.
In these small ways (and many more) we honor our Lord Jesus, who welcomed little children, affirmed their value in his kingdom, and commanded us to make it easy for them to come into his presence (Matt. 19:14).
Megan Hill is the managing editor for The Gospel Coalition. She is the author of several books for adults and, most recently, a book for kids about the local church: Meg Is Not Alone (Crossway/TGC Kids, November 2022). She belongs to West Springfield Covenant Community Church (PCA), and she lives in Massachusetts with her husband and four children. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram.