What Does Welcome Look Like to Children?

May 26, 2020 9:00:00 AM / by Cathy Skogen-Soldner

We recognize that this is an unusual and even unprecedented time to be doing ministry. This post pertains to more normal times, and you may not find it relevant in the next few weeks. However, we are also aware that, with many of us working from home, some people may have more time to read blog posts now than they usually do. We hope that you will be able to read this now and use its guidance at such a time as our activities return to normal.

We love having children as a part of our faith communities. They are like a breath of fresh air; they gift us with their curiosity, silliness, enthusiasm, honesty, and unfolding theology. So, what can we do to help children feel welcome?

A lowered coat rack at a good height for children

The kids at my church came up with the following Top 10 list of things that make them feel welcome.

Children’s Top 10

  1. activity bags that include pipe cleaners, activity books, stickers, storybooks, pencils, and crayons
  2. coat racks for kids
  3. age-appropriate chairs and tables that fit their growing bodies
  4. colorful classrooms with bean bag chairs
  5. space in the classroom for crafts, learning, play, and movement
  6. step stools at sinks and fountains
  7. seeing their works of art on the church walls
  8. snacks (this was #1 on everyone’s list!)
  9. children’s worship bulletins featuring activities and puzzles
  10. large glass jar in the worship space to collect coins for their “Noisy Offering” each week

Recruit Adults Who Love Children

A key part of welcome is recruiting volunteers who have experienced the unconditional welcome of Christ and are excited to share it with children. Those adults:

  • practice hospitality by smiling and learning names
  • accept where children are at and acknowledge what’s important to them
  • provide interesting and age-appropriate opportunities to learn the promises of God and the stories of God’s people
  • engage children in conversation and ask questions about their lives
  • affirm and encourage
  • provide a safe space for children to hang out, get to know each other, play, and learn

Active Participation

Children know they are welcome when they are included in the life and work of the church. We extend welcome to children when we say, “We need you here.” We affirm their God-given gifts and give them space to share those gifts with the community when we ask them to help as:

  • setter-uppers and cleaner-uppers at gatherings
  • instrumentalists for worship services
  • pray-ers—leading prayers for worship or being on the prayer chain
  • singers
  • weed-ers in the church flower garden
  • percussionists playing with the worship band
  • litter picker-uppers on the church grounds
  • servers at meals
  • cookie bakers for coffee hour
  • readers during worship
  • greeters and ushers

When we welcome children, we are introduced to new ideas, new possibilities, and new friends. Those we take into our lives change us. Maybe that’s why Jesus said, “Let the little children come” (Matthew 19:14).

Topics: Children Ministry

Cathy Skogen-Soldner

Written by Cathy Skogen-Soldner

Cathy Skogen-Soldner is composer and owner of Cathy’s Music and works as Coordinator of Children’s Worship Participation at St. Timothy Lutheran. Some of her best insights and creative ideas have come from nuggets she has received from the children in her life.


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