What did you learn at Church Today?
It is a typical scene around noon on any given Sunday at any given church. As the family leaves the church parking lot, a parent will turn to the child(ren) in the back seat and ask the same question, “What did you learn at church today?”.
But what is the typical response they receive? It probably is something like “Nothing” or “I don’t know”. We know they were in their class that morning. We know that they have dedicated teachers who spend hours in prayer and preparation for their class each week. We know they were in the worship service. So why do we get these vague responses from our children?
Here is a thought - maybe we are asking the question in the wrong way.
We put the word “learn” in our question. To a child, to learn something is to hear it for the first time. But children are learning when they come to church, they just don’t always think of it as learning. They hear Bible stories. They hear verses from the Bible. They hear the hymns. They hear the sermon. They are learning.
For children who are frequently in church, if they heard the story of Zacchaeus that Sunday morning, it wasn’t something new. They have probably heard it multiple times. When the Music Minister named the next hymn, it may have been one that they have heard before. They may have heard the Bible verse that they Pastor used in his sermon. In the child’s mind this Sunday morning at church there was nothing new for them to learn.
Although learning new things from our Bible study is important, Christian growth isn’t always about the new things put before us. Sometimes we grow as we are reminded of the concepts we have heard before. Repetition isn’t a bad thing. It is actually needed for children to be able to grasp a concept in its entirety. Adults need repetition as well. How many times have we read a scripture verse or passage that we have read many times and this one time God shows us something new in those words!
We don’t want our children to think that if they don’t learn something new at church on Sunday morning that going to church isn’t important. Fellowship with their friends is important. Hearing God’s Word read is important. Praising Him through worship songs is important. Hearing prayers voiced aloud is important. Watching their parents and other adults that they know participate in the various aspects of the worship service is important.
To get a conversation started with your children try re-phrasing your questions. Also, ask a different question each time so they don’t fall into the habit of thinking they know what you will ask them as soon as you get in the car.
Depending on the age of your child, here are a few examples you might want to use:
- What funny thing happened at church today?
- What kind of questions did you and your friends ask your teacher today?
- What was your favorite part of church today?
- What did you see or hear today that made you smile?
- If you could choose a song for everyone to sing next week, what song would you choose?
- What did you and your friends talk about today?
- If you were teaching your class today, how would you have told the Bible story?
- What surprised you the most at church today?
- What do you hope you will do in your class next week?
- Which song was your favorite one today?
- Was one of your friends absent from class today? What can you do to let them know that you missed them today?
- Did you hear something in your class or the worship service that you would have liked to ask a question about?
- Did you hear about something today that you would like to try to do this week?
- If you were the teacher of your class, what activity would you do first?
Always try to ask open ended questions, to challenge your child to think about their time at church in a new way. Open ended questions will reveal to you what things seem important to your child, what things they are paying attention to, and even what things they may have misunderstood. Open ended questions provide an open door for conversations. You may be surprised at what your children “learned” at church that day.
Preschool and Children’s Director