CULTIVATING A HEART OF COMPASSION: How Kids Can Show Empathy at Church

Kids of every age can serve at church. They don’t need to pour coffee or direct parking to make a big difference. Rather, they can help others experience the love and hospitality of Jesus by making them feel welcome!

Use the script below to help your kid learn how to make other kids feel seen. Talk about each discussion question together and then read the explanation. These conversations will help grow your child’s empathy for others and guide them in reflecting God’s love.

Discussion #1: Be a Mind-Reader


When was a time you knew what someone was thinking without them saying anything?

Read Together:

You probably read minds all the time without even realizing it.

Most of the time, our faces, bodies and voices give clues about how we’re feeling.

Scrunch up your eyebrows, cross your arms tightly across your chest and let out a sigh. If you see someone who looks like this, what do you think they are feeling?

You probably think that person feels angry. They didn’t tell you anything, but you read their mind using the clues their body, face and voice were giving.

Discussion #2: You’re Already an Expert


Have you ever been to a place for the first time and didn’t know most of the people there? How did you feel, or how do you think you might feel?

Read Together:

Every person has felt excited, scared, sad and so many other emotions. You’re already an expert at understanding emotions because you’ve felt them too.

Let’s imagine you see someone at church that you haven’t seen before. They’re standing by themselves, looking down and not talking. Think of the clues you have. What might they be feeling? Remember how you felt when you were in a new place, or how you thought you might feel. Could this person feel that way too?

Maybe they feel anxious because they don’t know where the bathroom is, or maybe they feel lonely because they don’t know who to talk to. You can use your experiences with emotions and read their body cues to guess what they’re feeling.

Discussion #3: How You Can Help


What would make you feel welcome if you were the one who was new?

Read Together:

Now that you have the clues to read their mind, and you’ve used your own experiences to think of how you would feel, you’re ready to help.

Start by talking to them. You don’t have to know the perfect thing to say, and you don’t have to cheer them up. It’s okay for them to keep feeling sad, mad, scared, excited or whatever they’re feeling.

You can make someone feel welcome by getting to know them. Start a conversation by asking what they like and don’t like. See how many things you have in common with them. When they say something, you can show you’re paying attention by looking at them and listening quietly while they talk.

Another way to make someone feel welcome is to do something with them. Invite your new friend to play a game with you during free play or sit next to you during small group. Then you can talk about what you’re doing instead of having to come up with your own conversation. Plus, sometimes it’s fun to just do things together!

Parent tip: If you want more communication tips, check out our page on building social skills here

Discussion #4: Read EVERYONE’S Mind


Name someone you like to hang out with. What is one thing you have in common, and what is one thing that is different about you?

Read Together:

Whenever you see another kid who is new or having a tough time, you should stop, try to read their mind and think of ways to help them, no matter who they are.

The Bible says, “For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus… There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” - Galatians 3:26, 28 (NLT)

It doesn’t matter what country they’re from, what school they go to or what gender they are; if you don’t know them, or if you think you won’t have anything in common. Every person deserves care and friendship because God loves everyone.

Follow Up

After reading this article and talking with your kids, ask them these questions after each gathering:

1. Did you talk to anyone you hadn’t talked to before today?

2. What’s one way you were kind to someone at church today?