While structured free time at the end of children’s church may work, one of the biggest mistakes beginning children’s pastors make is to have free time with toys at the beginning of the children’s service. There are many reasons this isn’t a good idea
It reeves up the children, especially ADHD children before church so that they have a hard time calming down.
It signals to the children that children’s church is play time, not a time to come into God’s presence. It is important to set the atmosphere the moment the children enter the room.
There is a safety issue. By starting the service with free time, you may have problems with children running around and getting hurt.
Children will be left out. What generally happens when you start the service this way is children who know each other well congregate to play together while the newer children or the unpopular children are left out.
It takes up valuable time you could use to pour the Word of God into children and build relationships.
Your next question might be, “How should I start children’s church when there’s a 15 minute time period when the children are arriving?” Here are some great ideas.
Play fast moving music and encourage the children to sing along with the music.
Have the children sit in their seats and talk to them about their weeks.
If you do decide to begin with an activity, make it a quiet activity such as a craft or learning page.
Have a countdown to service where children can go to the restroom or get a drink of water.
Have worship music playing and encourage children to sit in their seats and “enter in”.