I’ve been privileged to lead children in worship on many occasions over the years. In fact, we have written and recorded lots of songs for kids worship ministry that have worked well for getting kids engaged. Listen to some of the songs.
As I spend this week leading worship for a camp of first – fifth grade students, I’m reminded again of these three things:
INSIGHT # 1
Children remind us that we are wired to worship. When kids sing, dance, pray and participate, they do so with a childlike faith. They don’t worry about who is watching. They sing with energy. They pick up songs quickly. They create motions to songs on the fly. They are free in worship. They are forgiving if things don’t go totally smooth from a presentation standpoint. They typically get in their seat before time, they stand for every song and they shout out requests. Kids have a sense of praise and personal offering that allows them to get on the same page with God’s heart. Jesus said, “Let the children come to me”… We get a glimpse of this when kids choirs sing in church. Or when we invite kids up to do motions in front of the congregation. The adults can’t help but smile and connect. Kids teach us a valuable lesson – it’s great to pour out your all in worship.
I have been asked on several occasions – including during this event where we are leading now – how we connect with kids in worship ministry. In many ways, I’m not sure how to answer that question. But, if I were going to try to answer, here are some thoughts. One, we treat the children like the church. We help them live up to the expectation of worship, singing and engaging. We don’t typically ask them to sing, we just start singing and non-verbally invite them to join. We also choose songs that involve motions and actions, at least to begin with. This at times is humbling for most worship leaders. We don’t think in terms of motions to kids songs when we think of modern worship. Since I typically lead with college students in the band, this has, at times, been a hurdle. But, the motions kids learn help make it concrete. They “sing” with their mouths and their actions. As an example, this week, we have been starting worship times with Happy Day or Your Love. We’ve also created motions to Open Up The Heavens – new this week, and created by the kids as we sang. The other way I see Harvest connecting with kids in worship and music ministry is because we believe in it. We believe the kids need to sing. They need to get up and move. They need to be engaged in worship. They need to have an invitation to experience music, songs, skits and other things that will help them understand who God is in their lives and what it means to follow Him completely. Another way may just be a practical connection – just keeping at it. I first led kids worship music when someone asked me to play the guitar for the children’s ministry when I was in 6th grade. If I count that as the start, I have been doing this 30 years. The songs have changed, my age has changed, but the method of inviting kids to experience the truth of God’s kingdom in worship hasn’t.
Someone needs to lead kids in worship. There are several levels for leadership and one is that families need to lead kids in worship at home. Listen to worship music on the radio while driving. Listen to Christian songs at home. Spend time praying and reading the Word at home. They will grow in faith as you do this. You don’t wait until they are adolescents before you start sowing those seeds – at that point, it’s a little too late. Buy great music for them now. As soon as my daughter was given an iPad as a gift, we purchased Toby Mac – Eye on It Check out this album and she has loved it! I’m grateful that she is walking around saying that Toby Mac, Francesca Battistelli and others like them are her favorites. I’m glad she has those songs in her heart and head. Not that I have anything in particular against One Direction and other groups like that, bless their hearts, but I just want my young daughters to have their minds set on things above (Col. 3). In addition to the home, someone also needs to lead kids at church. They get to experience the greater church in worship and that is powerful and important modeling. But, I still believe it’s powerful for kids to get together and sing the song that is in their heart and in the hearts of their peers. Children’s worship times can be life changing, discipleship forming and create awesome connections to the Holy Spirit as they grow in faith.