10 Minutes: Prepping your kids for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday Services
Updated: Dec 15, 2019
I’ve loved this photo of a clown at Purim since the first time I saw it years ago, and I bet it resonates with your children when they hear they’re going to sit in the main service 2 extra times this week!
Between school projects, sports, and dinner, it might feel like a heroic effort to get your family to the 6:30 Maundy Thursday service, much less to invite your kids into a meaningful experience. And Good Friday? A solemn, quiet service in the middle of lunchtime on a day off school is laughable. For many children, just 10 minutes of preparation (even in the car on the drive to the church building!), can help them engage in meaningful ways with these services.
0. Trust the Holy Spirit.
Before you even bring up the subject, remember that the Lord is at work in children’s hearts and minds. Expectantly ask Him to be at work in your child’s heart during this service.
1. Talk about the meaning behind the service:
MT: “We are going to a special service tonight at church called Maundy Thursday. It is a time of remembering Jesus’ last meal with his disciples.”
GF: “We are going to the Good Friday service at church. This is when our church family remembers Jesus’ death on the cross.”
2. Tell them what to expect in child-friendly terms:
MT: “This service is 45 minutes long. We will sing, listen to Scripture, Pastor Curt will give a short message, and we will take Communion. It is going to last a little longer than 1 TV show, but less time than soccer practice. There won’t be KidsTime, but there will be a special bulletin to help you understand. This is a quiet service, and I expect that you will use a quiet voice if you need to talk to me, even in the lobby before and after the service.”
GF: “The Good Friday service is 1 hour long. That is about the same amount of time as Sunday School. There are 7 sections. During each section we will hear a little bit more of the story. After we hear the story, either we will sing a song, pray, or listen to one of the pastors talk for a few minutes. There will be a sheet that helps you listen and talk to God about the 7 words. This is a quiet service, and I expect that you will use a quiet voice if you need to talk with me, even in the lobby before and after the service.”
3. Put the service in the context of your day:
Kids want to know what’s waiting after the service. This doesn’t mean bribing, it means letting them know when an outlet is coming. Things like, “after the Good Friday service we will go straight home and get lunch” or “we are going to the park this afternoon and you may run and be noisy there” helps them know they are understood. If your child has oodles of energy, consider taking them to run some of it off at a park before the service- wiggles are natural, but they can also be helped with preparation!
4. Listen to their Concerns and Questions, and invite them into the solution:
Will it be boring? Sometimes quiet or serious things can seem boring to kids. Oftentimes this is because they don’t understand what is going on. Sometimes people choose to be bored by choosing not to listen. Sometimes people try to listen and cannot concentrate. If you are feeling bored, what could you do? How can you concentrate better?
*I understand that for some families, bringing a book for the child to read is an easy option. When making this choice, please consider that boredom often comes from not understanding- and a book will not help your child understand! A book might be a good solution, but it also might perpetuate the boredom problem. Consider your child’s needs when making this decision.
Will it be long? It might last longer than you want it to, but it will be shorter than a movie, school, or a car trip. You will be okay!
I don’t want to have to sit still and quiet that long. It might feel difficult, and that’s okay. It will slowly get easier as you practice and grow up! We are still and quiet in services to respect other people who are listening, worshiping, and praying. In both services there will be times to stand, sit and kneel. In both services there will be things to say and pray aloud together. We will sing songs. You will not have to be still or quiet for even 20 minutes straight! During times when we are listening, you may read your Bible, draw pictures of what you’re learning, or draw or write a prayer to God.