Of the 9 worship styles for kids, a child that leans toward the Sensate style likely is always touching, hugging, sniffing and tasting things, maybe even at inappropriate times. Let’s talk about engaging God with all 5 senses to help your Sensate child connect with God on a much deeper level.
Our kids were made to engage in life using their senses.
It’s how God made them. A baby doesn’t just want to taste her food – she wants to squish it and rub it on her face.
Some kids grow out of this need to experience everything with all their senses, but others don’t.
Then, we tell them to sit still while we read the Bible, or close their eyes and fold their hands when they pray.
It’s unfair to these kids that we engage their senses in every other part of life, but not in connecting with God!
But how can you use your senses to connect with a God who is invisible and untouchable?
God gave us the 5 senses
We can use our senses and our creativity to connect what we see, touch, taste, smell, and hear, to what we know about God.
1. For example, incense was used in the ancient Jewish temple. You can incorporate the sense of smell into prayer through the use of essential oils. The smells can become a trigger for your child, a signal that they’re entering God’s presence through prayer.
2. If you use a scented candle instead of oil, you can also incorporate the sense of sight into your child’s prayer time, hitting two senses at once!
3. You can incorporate the sense of touch by using sensory bins as a teaching tool for Bible stories.
4. Incorporate the sense of taste into your child’s worship by inviting her to participate in the Lord’s Supper. If you find that uncomfortable, you could try setting up a little snack or tea party at the table sometimes when you read the Bible with your kids.
5. Sense of sound: Help your child worship through sound by finding a worship music style that your child loves.
6. You get bonus points for the sense of proprioreception if you use the music to start a dance party!
(Keep reading below, or check out these other articles…)
A 5 senses prayer:
Try this prayer with your sensory child:
You will need a jar of honey and a scented candle. Light the scented candle, which engages the senses of smell and sight. Invite your child to sit down, cross-legged. Invite her to stick her finger into the jar of honey.
It’s sticky, right? Just like the honey sticks to your skin, God’s love sticks to you, no matter where you go.
That engages the sense of touch.
You could also read this Bible verse and talk about God’s words being sweet:
How sweet are your words to my taste,Psalm 119:103 NIV
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
This engages the sense of sound. Finally, let your child suck the honey off her finger as a tasty remind of God’s sweetness.
Engage God with the senses using this picture book
For a simple book that helps your child connect their 5 senses with their faith in God, I recommend “Quinn’s Promise Rock.”
In this story, Quinn the owl is worried about losing her dad while they’re out hunting. Her dad shows her through the metaphor of a rock that even when dad’s not around, she can depend on God.
He flies her to the top of a mountain, and reminds her that God is huge and consistent, like the rock under their feet. When they get caught in a rainstorm, they take refuge in a cave. Quinn’s dad tells her that God is also a refuge, like the cave. Then they fly to the forest floor and he picks up a small rock in his talon.
“God is like this tiny rock. Even though he is big like a mountain and safe like a cave, you can also carry him everywhere you go. God is always with you.”Quinn’s Promise Rock, Christie Thomas (See this book on Amazon)
Children can learn to understand the abstract concept of God’s presence by engaging their senses of tough and sight though this story. They can even create their own promise rock and keep it in their pocket to remind them of this enduring truth.
You can ask your local Christian bookstore or library to bring in “Quinn’s Promise Rock” or you can check it out on Amazon.
More on Sacred Pathways for Kids
This article was specifically about the Sensate worship style, but did you know there are actually 9 worship styles for kids?
I have a downloadable quiz that you can take which will help you determine which of the 9 worship styles your child leans toward. Take the quiz here.
The concept of Sacred Pathways comes from Gary Thomas’ book by the same name. Check out Sacred Pathways on Amazon.
Other Sacred Pathways for Kids
An overview of the Sacred Pathways
- The Traditionalist Pathway
- A longer article: How to help your child grow spiritually
- A shorter article and video: One practical tip for teaching children about Jesus
- The Sensate Pathway
- A longer article: God gave us 5 senses: Here’s how our kids can use them to worship God
- A shorter article and video: Helping our kids engage God with all 5 senses
Hassan Buya-Degood Bangura says
Thanks for that powerful teaching on Hebrews 12: 1-3. It is to the point and well taught. It is also very interesting to know, I had used all my five senses in worship without, me as I worship. I have prayed with Olive oil, candles, honey etc. not connecting them with my five senses: to the degree you so aptly inculcated the five senses. Thanks.
Christie Thomas says
I think it so amazing that you are already doing this, and maybe didn’t even realize it was something so unique to your worship style! Love it.
Hassan Buya-Degood Bangura says
…. I had used all my five senses, without me knowing it, as I worship…