SABBATH MORNING SERVICES can seem really long when you’re a child. Sometimes I help grownups understand what it’s like for children in church. I make them sit on a table in front of a plain wall, because that’s like sitting on a chair that’s too big for you while not being able to see anything interesting. Next, I play them a sermon in a language that they don’t understand. I do it for only a minute, but I ask them to imagine what it would be like to listen to that for an hour and not be able to understand anything. Then I ask them how they would feel if they had to do that every week for 10 years! They usually laugh about it, but it helps them to understand how children might
feel during some church services.
It’s much better to spend your time in church in a way that brings you closer to God. Ask your parents to buy you a good children’s Bible that’s easy for you to read and understand. Some have pictures to color or lots of ideas for things to do (for example, the Hands-On Bible). Ask your parents if you can have a Sabbath bag with a good notebook, pencil, markers, and other things that help you to enjoy church. Maybe your parents could pop a surprise into your bag once in a while! Here are some ways you can worship quietly in church during a hard-tounderstand sermon.
MAKE A REBUS PUZZLE BIBLE VERSE
Choose your favorite verse from the Scripture reading and turn it into a rebus puzzle. This will also help you to memorize the words. A rebus puzzle is one where you swap some of the words, or parts of words, for little pictures of the objects, or pictures of things that sound similar. You might draw a heart for the word “love,” write the number 4 instead of the word “for,” draw a stick person for “man” or “woman,” or write g8 for “gate.”
Show the rebus puzzle to someone and see if they can figure out the verse!
Choose your favorite verse from the Scripture reading or sermon and turn it into a picture or postcard. Write the verse lightly in pencil so you can erase any mistakes. Then use your pens or crayons to bring it to life. Decorate the whole card in ways that illustrate the meaning of the verse, using your favorite style of artwork. On the back of the card write what the verse means to you or what you remember from the sermon. Write the date on the back of the card and keep your cards as a sermon journal.
Sometimes the preacher will tell a story as a sermon illustration. Retell the story by drawing a simple cartoon. Show your cartoon to a friend and tell them the story too. What
does this story tell you about God?
If you have fidgety hands (and if it’s OK with your parents) take something into church that you can use to create a scene from a Bible story or the sermon. You can use
paper, scissors, glue, and coloring things; or colored modeling clay on a small tray or in a plastic box; or chenille wires/pipe cleaners. Afterward, show your scene to
someone and tell all about it.
Look around your church and pray for 10 people you see. You might not know what they need, but you can pray that they will know how much God loves them or that God will bless them today. Choose one person you are praying for and share God’s love with them after the church service. Maybe you could make them a Bible verse card,
or give them a hug if you’re comfortable, or smile at them and wish them Happy Sabbath!
GET TO KNOW BIBLE CHARACTERS
If the sermon is difficult for you to understand, choose one of your favorite Bible characters and read about them in the Bible. If you are not sure where to find their story, ask your mom or dad to help you. Then draw a picture of a scene from their life, write a letter to the person, or design a trophy to celebrate one of their character strengths, such as bravery or faith or leadership. Write their story in your own words, create a poem about them, or even make up a song about their life. Find out some unusual facts about their life and make a quiz for your family. What do you like best about this character? What is the most important lesson you learned from their life story? In what ways are you like this character, and in what ways are you very different? How could you grow your character to be more like theirs?
What would you like to see in your church service? What do you think would make it better for the children? Which part of the church service would you like to change the most? Which part would you like to take part in? What gifts has God given you that could be used in your church? Draw a big outline of a church on a piece of paper and write your dreams and hopes for your church inside the outline. Show it to your mom or dad and ask if you and the other children can help make your church the best place for children to experience God. Ask your parents to read my other article in this magazine (page 18) so they can find ways to involve children in your church service every week.
MAKE A WORD-SEARCH PUZZLE
Make a grid of squares on a sheet of paper using a ruler and pencil, or print out grid paper on your computer. When the preacher uses a key word in the sermon, fit it into the grid to make a wordsearch puzzle. Or use some of the words in the Bible reading for the day. You can write the words forward, backward, upward, downward, and diagonally, as long as all the letters in a word are in a straight line. Put one letter of the word in each square of the grid. It’s even more fun if you can use a letter from one word in another word, so that the words crisscross through the grid. Whenever you include a word in your puzzle, write it down on a list, so that your parents, siblings, or friends can look for all your hidden words. You won’t be able to fill all the squares in the grid with words, so fill the extra empty squares with any letter you like, or the letters of a Bible verse or name, until the square or rectangular grid has a letter in every small square. Keep an eraser handy for mistakes!