Resources for Gathering
As your children attend a Gathering OR watch an online Gathering from home, use these sermon notes to help them pay attention and learn along side of you! We want all ages to worship God heartily through singing to God and listening to the message.
In a Greenbriar Church Gathering, you will have the opportunity to take communion (also called the Lord’s Supper). This is a wonderful time to explain the gospel to your child and help give them a picture of what it means to trust Jesus’ sacrifice to atone for our sins and bring us back to God. You can prepare to share the significance of this meal with children of all ages.
The gospel is a true story. Our role as parents is to repeatedly tell this true story to our children so that one day they may believe and have life in the name of Jesus. If you don’t already tell the gospel story in the everyday rhythms in your home, start small but definitely start! Talk about Christ’s life, death, resurrection and future coming. Talk about it regularly throughout each week. If you need ideas on how to teach your children about Jesus and what it means to be with him, be like him and to do what he did, use the resources provided on the Family Resource page of our website. We also have KIDS Sunday Resources available each week to help you share the story of Jesus in greater detail as your children grow.
Talking Points by Age Group
For toddlers through kindergarten
Keep it simple! Practice sharing a new part of Jesus’ story as it relates to communion or choose one of the following phrases to share with your child each week:
- “God loves people and he made them! In fact God made everything. But people don’t always obey God. This is called sin. We need Jesus to rescue us from our sin when we don’t love and obey God.”
- “The bread and the juice are not actually Jesus’ body and blood. They are symbols to help us remember that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead to defeat our sin, bringing us back to God.”
- “This reminds us that Jesus has power over sin and death. We can trust Jesus to give us everything we need. Jesus died in our place and rose again.”
- “Jesus is our only hope to get back to God so any time you see someone take the Lord’s Supper remember that Jesus has rescued us.”
- “When we love God we obey him. Jesus helps us obey God and takes the punishment when we don’t obey or love God.”
For grade school children
- Read through Luke 22 and 1 Corinthians 11 together and return to these passages when your family needs a refresher or you’re ready to talk about new aspects of communion with your child.
- Learn at least the first part of the catechism together at home: What is the Lord’s Supper? “Christ commanded all Christians to eat bread and to drink from the cup in thankful remembrance of him.”
With this age group, you can spend more time unpacking different aspects of communion, the doctrines and the theology surrounding this holy moment we share with our church family when we Gather together. Return to the same concepts over and over again but try to add another layer of truth as you build a rich understanding of the Lord’s Supper for your children. Try explanations that are a little more in-depth like these:
- “God loves people. In the Old Testament, God made a covenant, or a promise, with His people. He gave them commandments to follow so they could live in right relationship with Him. But God’s people broke the covenant. They didn’t obey God, and they didn’t love Him. By dying on the cross, Jesus became the passover lamb we needed and he made a new covenant for us, a covenant that he would keep perfectly for us. He died so that we could live with God and have our sin taken away. Jesus brought forgiveness and made the way for people to know and love God again.”
- “Not everyone will take the Lord’s Supper, only those who have repented of their sin and trusted Jesus for salvation. Jesus told his disciples to eat this meal to remember him and that’s what we are doing as disciples of Jesus right now.”
- At this age, you can begin to have your child tell you the story of Jesus and ask them why we need to be reminded of Jesus’ sacrifice. If they are ready to take communion [see below], invite them to pray out loud for your family in taking communion sometimes so they can practice sharing the good news of Jesus in this tangible way.
- Consider watching the Bible Project video on Sacrifice & Atonement with your older children.
Should my child take communion?
As a parent, you will need to wrestle with this question and decide if it is time for your child to take communion. This is a weighty decision so take your time and consider talking with your shepherding elder, your Missional Community, or godly friends and family to see how other parents have processed this decision with their children. Ask other mature believers in your child’s life if they have witnessed the evidence of a regenerate heart in your child. Remember that not everyone should take communion, only people who have repented of their sins and trusted Jesus for salvation. Your child needs the gentle reminders of God’s love for them and they need to understand that this is a meal for believers, disciples of Jesus. Pray for them to believe the gospel and trust in Jesus. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you share the truths of God and the hope of Christ with your children. Encourage your child to worship alongside you and celebrate Jesus’ life, death and resurrection even if they don’t yet take communion/the Lord’s Supper.
- Have they given a convincing profession of faith in Jesus?
- Are they showing fruit and evidence of conversion through obedience to and love for Jesus?
- Do they understand and can they articulate the significance of communion?
- Have they been baptized?
Resources we love: The Big Picture Interactive Bible Storybook; The Jesus Storybook Bible; “Should my child take communion?”; Bible Project video on Sacrifice & Atonement; the Greenbriar Church Podcast for episodes on parenting and gospel-centered conversations about kids!
In their Sunday environments, your kids have been learning catechisms and Scripture to help build a foundation of biblical truth in their hearts and minds. In Greenbriar Gatherings your children may have an opportunity to recite a catechism or two that they have learned! We hope this helps reinforce that they belong and can fully participate as worshippers in our Gatherings.
TIP! As we rehearse catechisms we use this format: ask the catechism question; allow your child to answer; ask them, “where do we find this truth in the Bible?”; wait for the Scripture reference; ask them what that verse says; wait for them to recite the verse or verses.
Who made you? God made me
Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them”
What else did God make? God made all things.
Romans 11:36 ” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”
Why did God make you and all things? For His own glory.
Psalm 19:11 “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”
How can you glorify God? By loving Him and doing what He commands.
John 15:10 ” If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.”
Why ought you to glorify God? Because He made me and takes care of me.
Are there more gods than one? There is only one God.
Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.”
In how many persons does this one God exist? In three persons.
John 10:30 “I and the Father are one.”
Who are the three persons of God? The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Jude 20-21 “But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.”
Where is God? God is everywhere.
Jeremiah 23:24 “Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD.”
Can you see God? No. I cannot see God, but He always sees me.
Psalm 139:1-2 “O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.”
*As with all media, please preview this content to determine if it is appropriate for your children.
Helping Our Kids Worship in a Gathering
Our KIDS Classrooms will be closed for a season. Worship. Gatherings might be a little noisier and a little distracting as all of our children join us each week and that's OK! We want to take advantage of this season to help our children continue to develop as worshippers of God. Check out a few of our ideas and resources to help you process these changes with your children and set them up to enjoy worshipping God with us.
We want to come alongside parents as we prepare our children for a new rhythm on Sundays! Our KIDS areas will be closed for a while in an effort to promote health and safety. Last week we explored how the gospel frees us up to worship genuinely during this season of family style Gatherings, and we encourage you to read that first. This week we wanted to share some practical ideas on how to make ready the heart of every member of your family to see and savor Jesus Christ each Sunday. Each child will have different needs and abilities and as a church family, we want to set the stage for all of our children to be able to worship with us genuinely. Our expectation is not to have a studious, quiet service. Rather our desire is to develop true worshipers, in ourselves and our children.
All worshippers are welcome at Greenbriar’s Gatherings, no matter their ability or age because all people are called to worship God.
Just a reminder, we have 3 hopes for our church body as we train our children to worship with us in a Gathering:
That our children would worship God genuinely
That parents would be able to worship
That our fellow worshipers would not be distracted (but would be gracious no matter what!)
Set the expectation
The best way to set up children to succeed in any new effort is to talk to them before, during, and after their experience. Share with your children that Sunday Gatherings are a time for all people to worship God. Tell them that they BELONG and are ABLE to listen and follow along with other worshipers. There are three big ways that we worship God on Sundays with other worshippers: with our bodies, with our voices, and with our minds! Walk your children through the order of the Gathering and explain to them how they can worship God during each section of the service.
We will worship God with our bodies
We will sit or stand next to our family instead of running or playing around the building.
We will use the restroom and get a drink of water before service.
When it’s time to sit, we will sit in our chair and sit upright. We will try not to wiggle.
We will keep our shoes on and keep our belongings to ourselves.
Follow along with the worshipers around us. When everyone is standing to read Scripture, we will too. When everyone stands to sing and dance, so will we! When everyone sits to listen to the sermon, we will sit to listen as well.
We will worship God with our voices
If we need to talk to dad or mom when it’s quiet we will whisper.
When it’s time to sing or say a catechism or recite Scripture together, we will speak and sing out loud together!
We will pray together, take communion together (or watch mom and dad take communion) with a quiet and reverent voice.
Worship God with our minds
This is our time to learn about God so we will do our best to focus our thoughts on what the pastor is saying. We listen to our pastor because he is teaching us the truths about God in the Bible. Listening to and reading the Bible is how we know God!
We will follow along with our sermon notes and Bibles (for our older children) or our coloring sheets (for our younger children) to help our brains listen better.
We can draw pictures of what we are hearing or write down things we heard.
We will save our questions for after the service when dad and mom can talk to us about what we heard.
Affirm, correct, reset!
Ask them for feedback. “What did you learn about God today?” “Tell me about how you worshipped God.” “What were your favorite parts?” “Would you share about what you drew or the notes you took?” (see the Practice and Persevere section below for more ideas).
Affirm the behavior that you want to see: “you sat in your own chair and listened so well!” “I heard you singing loudly and I love that.”
Correct them where they need reminders for the next week: “If you need to talk to me next week you need to whisper.”
Consider offering a treat for the times when they put their best effort into worshipping God genuinely on a Sunday!
Follow through on your family’s form of loving discipline when they are willfully disobedient or disrespectful to you or the other worshipers.
Reset the following week, sharing that you expect them to worship with their bodies, their voices, and their minds, and they are going to be great at it!
You know your child best! If your child has different abilities or needs right now, please adjust your expectations and enjoy their progress as they try new experiences!
Practice in an Online Gathering
Online Gatherings are a perfect training ground for us right now! Try practicing at home first. Our children need the space to practice exercising self-control even when they don’t fully understand why you are asking them to sit still or it’s not particularly “fun” for them at first.
Instead of letting your little ones play freely while you watch the Gathering online from your couch, have them sit in your lap or on their blanket or in a designated chair so that they know this is a special time to worship God.
Talk with them beforehand sharing the expectation of worshipping with your body, voice, and mind.
Make this time special to help your children adjust. Have older children use a designated notebook for sermon notes and bring their own Bible. Have younger children bring a special tote with items they use only on Sundays.
Look up sensory strategies like using sit circles, weighted lap pads, or doing lap training/blanket training with your littlest ones who might need extra help extending their attention spans!
Again, you know your child best. Maintain realistic and loving expectations. But do share your expectations and start now! At this stage of their development, more is “caught” than is “taught”. They should be able to feel your eager joy to sing and listen and pray with the people of God. Sitting quietly may be harder for some children than for others but all children need to learn that they can do hard things with God’s help and all children can worship God genuinely!
Practice and Persevere!
The deep truths taught in the Sunday Gathering will be over your toddler’s head, and that’s ok! Our job as parents is to train our children in the gospel on their level at home throughout each week as we point them towards Jesus in all of life. There is so much good in exposing your little ones to the deep mysteries of the gospel which they cannot yet comprehend, just as they are immersed in the unknowns of the English language they are currently trying to learn. Everything is new to them. This is a good thing and a prime environment for them to learn to soak in and savor spiritual things from our God! You will also be surprised at how much they are learning, the phrases they catch, and the delight they begin to cultivate during this time of worshiping God heartily.
After each Gathering, discuss the things you enjoyed about worshipping God together. I like using these 4 questions in talking about a passage of Scripture. They can be tailored to help you review a Gathering with your child:
What did you learn about God?
What did you learn about people?
What do you need to believe based on what we heard in the Bible?
Is there anything you need to do from what you learned today?
This is a great opportunity to check in with your child in their growth as a whole person! You can ask them questions about what they thought, how they felt, what they believe right now about Jesus and God the Father, and what it means to trust Him. Share how you are repenting (turning from your desire to worship yourself) and believing in Jesus to save you from your sin (obviously do this in an age-appropriate way but our children need to see their parents repenting and turning to God in all of life!). We have the privilege of training our children to honor God, honor those around them, and begin to sow and water the seeds of discipline that will help them flourish for a lifetime.
We have resources available to you on our Family Discipleship Resource page if you need ideas on establishing rhythms of discipleship or family worship at home.
As we move into a time where our church family will enjoy family style Gatherings for a season, we must train ourselves and our children to prepare to encounter a living God and joyfully respond with worship! I’m praying this time will usher us into a renewed time of Christ-centered worship and discipline in our homes that will spill over into our time of gathered, in-person worship. One of our 5 hopes at Greenbriar is to be a family equipping church. That is, we partner with parents to help them lead their kids to be learners and followers of Jesus! We typically pursue this hope by providing gospel-saturated Sunday morning environments for our children, but in this season we have the opportunity to focus on developing ourselves and our children further as worshipers.
During this time, we have 3 hopes for our church body as we continue to train our children to worship with us in a Gathering:
- That our children would worship God genuinely
- That parents would be able to worship
- That our fellow worshipers would not be distracted (but would be gracious no matter what!)
The Posture of Worshipers
Training our children to approach Sunday Gatherings with awe and reverence is a corporate effort! As the local body of Christ, we lay aside our individual pursuits so that we may worship God (Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 1:12; Ephesians 6:16-19), nurture and build up believers to a greater maturity in faith (Colossians 1:28; Ephesians 4:12-13), and care for and evangelize those who are not yet believers in Christ (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 11:29). Our children are either believers who need nurturing in their faith OR they are not-yet-believers who need to experience the extraordinary blessing and mercy of the gathered church. Sundays are a great benefit to us but they are not solely for us. In this season may we embrace the purpose of the gathered church because small eyes are watching us all!
“Children feel the difference between duty and delight!”, John Piper once wrote as he shared how their church family navigated a shift to a family integrated worship gathering. If our kids watch men singing loudly and visibly enjoying this time set aside to worship God, eventually they will too. If the women are engaged while the Scriptures are being taught and stirred by prayer and shared communion, eventually our children will be as well. We get to train our children in the behavior we expect them to exhibit in a worship Gathering both explicitly and by our own example of worshipping heartily and listening eagerly. Over time our kids catch the attitude, the affection, the posture of those who love God and are ready to hear from Him. As you bring a reverent, and joy-filled spirit into a Sunday Gathering, our children will eventually follow.
Grace from fellow worshipers
If you do not have small children in this season of your life, this message is still for you! One way that you can serve your church family well in this transition time is to put the needs of families before your own desires for a quiet and studious service! We are all growing in grace right now, including our littlest worshipers. Children are full of energy and complexity as they navigate their new personhood. I encourage you to lay aside irritation towards any distraction they may create as they are learning to sit quietly in a Gathering. This is new for some of them and this is a time for them to practice a new skill. Invite the Holy Spirit to use difficult moments to reveal your own need for Christ. Pray for yourself. Pray for our littlest worshipers and for their parents. Jesus gives us a greater, purer and more loving perspective towards children than we naturally possess. Our littlest worshipers need time in corporate worship as well. Jesus saw the energy and enthusiasm that children are known for and was still abundantly tender towards them. May we follow his pattern in this and in every practice of life and godliness. We pray our children will one day follow Christ and glorify the Father in every aspect of their lives. We pray that every day until that day our children will have witnessed you, their church family, faithfully striving towards the same end with much joy and grace for all people!
A gospel reminder we need right now!
We are all feeling the strain of not gathering to worship in person for a prolonged period of time. We all long to gather. May we find hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ in these moments, brothers and sisters! May we remember that we are all broken sinners, separated from a glorious and good God. We are all in need of a Savior to bring us back into a right relationship with God. Daily, we need to turn to Christ as the only one sufficient to save us and sustain us. Weekly we will gather not to have our own needs met by a religious service but rather to humbly consider others as more important than ourselves and to look not only to our own interests but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2). The good news of Jesus is that we don’t save ourselves or defeat death or even bring about order or change in our own lives. We receive the good work from Jesus which he accomplished for us on the cross. We can submit to God with joy and freedom in the life we have in Christ. This is where true worship begins.
We drew our encouragement and specific, helpful tips on
We have resources available to you on our Family Discipleship Resource page if you need ideas on establishing rhythms of discipleship or family worship at home.