Tips for online and socially distanced church

It is a nearly a year since we first entered a national lockdown, and life as we knew it changed overnight.

Even after all that time, life is still unsettling both for parents and for our children.

For many of us, church has been online since last March, or we may have had experiences of socially distanced church services. Due to frequent local lockdowns, national lockdowns, self-isolating, shielding and regulation changes it seems that church life is in constant flux. All the things our children were used to, both in and out of church have subject to change, at a moment’s notice.

I have a daughter who is nearly three, her experiences of church would have been in the worship music, or playing with toys in creche or the back of the room with other children her age.  So naturally when church was suddenly done through a computer screen, she struggled to engage and just wanted to play.

I know that many older children have struggled to engage, no matter how wonderful the content put out by the church. They miss the face to face meeting, some miss the routine of getting up, dressed and out to church on a Sunday morning, and they miss their friends most of all.

Some churches have been able to gather in person under the regulations, with strict social distancing in place. Many churches have been unable to provide Sunday school, and churches have looked for ways to make their services fit with the families in their congregation.

Each family is different, and will not have all had the same struggles and experiences. So, we asked a few different families about what works or doesn’t work for them. Here are some ideas and advice from other parents!


  • Getting a young child to sit through an hour-long service is not likely to work. Try focusing on one part instead – like the worship!
  • Have a few toys laid out to play with, or some craft activities to occupy them whilst the service is on in the background.
  • Set up a special Sunday morning breakfast and put the service on whilst you eat together.
  • If your family is of all different ages be okay with the fact that they will all engage with different parts.
  • Be kind to yourself, if it’s not working don’t force it. What works one week, may not work the next – and that’s okay.
  • Try talking about the message throughout with week with our children, this can be done practically or with a simple question.
  • Your children can learn as much about God from you, as any Sunday school teacher – you can do this!
  • If your church meets in person without Sunday school, don’t worry about them disturbing the service – your church leaders will understand that kids make noise.

If you are a church leader, and are looking for ways to help families engage, take a look at our guide here!

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