We've all been in the situation. It's time for corporate worship with our kids. Most of our kids are singing, perhaps doing motions, lifting praise to God. But there are a few kids who are distracted (or distracting). When is the right time to intervene?
Worship is responding rightly to the revelation of God, and we believe it’s an integral component of kids' ministry. The best thing you can do to encourage kids to worship is to teach them the amazing goodness of God. Then, during worship time, be engaged yourself. Kids will follow your example. If leaders are hanging back and talking to each other, kids will naturally assume it’s time to talk to friends. But if they see you focusing on the Lord and singing His praises, they will likely do the same.
A good rule of thumb is: Of course you can’t force a child to worship, but you should step in if he or she is distracting another child from worshiping. (The same could be said of listening in large group or participating in small group.) If a child is talking, rough housing, or otherwise calling attention to himself, a gentle correction is in order.
I remember walking into our middle school room during a beautiful worship set one morning. Almost every student had their hands up or eyes lifted upward, singing and considering the goodness of God. But as I slipped in through the back door, something quickly caught my eye. About four rows from the back, one of the boys was reaching over several other boys in an attempt to grab a friend’s baseball cap. With the grabbing and wrestling that ensued, every eye in the four rows behind them was focused on them, not on God. This is a time to intervene.
But rather than giving a sharp word or disapproving look, take time to get to the heart of the matter. Gently pull the disruptive child aside and with genuine concern, say something like: “You know, worship is the time when we give God the attention and gratitude He deserves. All of the kids around you want focus on God right now. But when you draw attention to yourself, you are actually stealing the attention that God deserves. I would hate for you to be in the position of taking something that belongs to God, so why don’t you sit next to me and we can worship together.” (Malachi 3:8) This approach shows your love and concern for the child while you quell the distraction.