Yes, you are right, of course. I too have heard some really good children’s sermons that are on topics other than the biblical text behind the grown-ups sermon. I’ve even preached some.
Good Practice, Not Unbendable Law
When I said that the biblical text of the morning should be the topic of your children’s sermon I was speaking in terms of a general rule — what to do most of the time, unless some other issue is more important that day.
I think it is analogous to being a lectionary preacher on a Sunday after a major national or local tragedy. Sometimes you just need to claim the prerogative of speaking a word of comfort to a community in pain.
At least in my denomination the pastor is the one who decides what text is read and preached, so it is easy to just make a switch. I’ve heard preachers in churches with firmly fixed lectionaries read the assigned text but simply preach on the more relevant and necessary topic.
As a preacher you are not the slave of a lectionary or another pre-selected schedule of texts. You are there as a shepherd of God’s flock, and a teacher in God’s school. Most of the time a lectionary or ongoing series will serve those needs.
But children’s sermons? Here you especially need that sense of being a shepherd and a teacher. That actually opens up a whole range of excellent topics.
Preaching on Other Topics
Here are a few that come to mind:
- On a day when someone will be baptized or when the Lord’s Supper is to be celebrated, you can explain to the kids what one of the sacraments is all about.
- On a saint’s day you can tell the story of that great influential role model for discipleship. (I had a great time telling the kids the truth about Santa Claus one notable St. Nicholas’ Day.)
- On a day when the changing season of the Church year brings the sanctuary new colors, or other elements like an Advent wreath, you can explain what those things mean in the Church and the Christian life.
And you can take the opportunity to explain perfectly ordinary things as well.
- The kids need to hear where the Lord’s Prayer comes from — and what it means.
- They need to learn what the Apostles’ and Nicene Creed are.
- You might explain why we sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs — and you might help them understand one that they are singing that very day.
- Why do you have an offering in the service?
- Why are there different kinds of prayers each Sunday?
- Why do you read the Bible in the service when people can read it at home?
Better Understanding, More Active Worship
The whole service is a mystery to kids — until someone helps them understand it. That’s why you should also be preaching on other topics to the kids. It’s part of letting your children’s sermons shepherd and educate the kids.
And then, with understanding, bit by bit you can teach them how to participate in worship. They really don’t have to sit there bored, or reading comic books, or playing games silently on someone’s phone. They can learn to worship.
By the way, none of those explanations are going to be wasted on the grown-ups either! You would be surprised the number of life-long Christians who have never heard the most basic things about the church explained.
This is part of an ongoing series on children’s sermons. Click here to start from the beginning.
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