United Church of God

Four Ideas to Make the Sabbath Special for Children

You are here

Four Ideas to Make the Sabbath Special for Children

Login or Create an Account

With a UCG.org account you will be able to save items to read and study later!

Sign In | Sign Up


Teaching kids to live God’s way is an opportunity that presents both a blessing . . . and, at times, a challenge. At a young age, kids are learning and growing at a rapid pace. Yet, keeping their attention and explaining the deeper meaning behind God’s way of life is something that happens in stages. For an adult, the idea of keeping the weekly Sabbath by taking the day off, attending Church services and spending extra time with God in prayer and study seems like a restful blessing. But children are not automatically born with this perspective. At times, it may even appear to children that the Sabbath is just a list of do's and don’ts. While there are certainly some actions to avoid on the Sabbath, God wants this day to be a delight (Isaiah 58:13-14), not just to us, but to our children as well! I interviewed some mothers who have been raising kids in the Church for decades and asked them to share some of their ideas for how to make the Sabbath special for young children.


Set the tone for the Sabbath day by making Friday night special. One family I spoke with ushers in the Sabbath with candles, music and a special dessert. On Sabbath morning, they have a big breakfast! Another idea is to invite brethren over to your place after Sabbath services or host a picnic in the park. Spending time with others is a great way to set the day apart as different. Children, no matter how young, are always listening, and they will benefit from being included at the same table as the adults. They may not understand everything that’s said when the older members discuss the sermon or tell the stories of how they were called, but some of that information is absorbed, and they will learn by example. God instructs us to teach His words to children “speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 11:19). Mealtime is one of these wonderful opportunities to connect with your children.


Set aside a special bag of toys that are only used on the Sabbath. They can be specifically Bible-themed, such as a Bible story coloring book, but they can also be unique and fun items that children will look forward to playing with, such as a special farm playset. Encourage kids to focus on godly things (Colossians 3:2) by choosing toys that will direct them to positive things like the beauty of Creation or developing positive virtues. When assembling a Sabbath bag, it’s a good idea to avoid adding noise-making items that could create a disruption during Church services. Another factor to keep in mind is packing extra items to share with Church friends.


Encourage your children to help, especially if they’re restless after services. Some of the small jobs at Church are perfect for young kids, including taping and removing tape from cables, filling cups with water for the speakers, picking up trash after a potluck and collecting hymnals. Scripture is full of examples of people who gave what seemed to be a small gift or service, but it turned out to make a huge difference. Consider the boy who gave up his lunch (John 6:5-13), which seemed small, but Jesus multiplied to feed thousands of people. Your child can begin to make a difference even now, and God sees these efforts, small though they may seem.


Another way to make the Sabbath special is to play a Bible-themed game or participate in a Bible charades challenge on a Friday night. Some Bible trivia games include questions that are easy enough for kids to answer. Other activities could include a Bible edition of a game that is already familiar, so they are easy to play. Bible charades can be as easy as demonstrating a simple Bible story, or for a fun challenge, can include costumes and props from around the house. Some families have found pairing creative activities, such as art or coloring, with listening to a Bible reading or recorded sermon has been an effective method of encouraging a spiritual focus.

While some families prefer to avoid letting their children play with electronics on the Sabbath, there are some helpful ways to use media on the Sabbath. Kids’ movies based on a Bible story or character can encourage interest in the Bible. Another idea is to put together a playlist of Sabbath songs, either relaxing instrumental music or kids’ songs that are easy to sing along to. There are even some great apps and games that kids can play on an iPad to help them focus on Bible topics.

These suggestions are just a starting point, but as you set the example of making the Sabbath extra-special, children will see that the Sabbath matters and that it is set apart from the other days of the week. As King David noted, “O God, You have taught me from my youth; and to this day I declare Your wondrous works” (Psalm 71:17). As we train children to live God’s way, they will establish habits to last into their adulthood (Proverbs 22:6)!