This week’s post comes from my friends over at Seeds Family Worship and 12:30 Kids Media. They’re both leading creators in the world of media and music in children’s ministry, and I so appreciate their willingness to share these practical tips for leading kids in worship…
For all of us who minister to children, we see firsthand the challenges kids in this generation face. There are so many things coming at them from all directions in this fast-paced, high-tech, unfiltered culture… and their parents are facing the same pressures.
How can we make the most of the limited time we have with these precious children and point them to Jesus? How can we come alongside their overstressed and overwhelmed parents and help them teach their kids about Jesus in their homes?
I (Josh from Seeds Family Worship) believe one of the most powerful ways to teach kids about Jesus is to help them learn truth by singing, not just songs of worship, but by singing God’s Word. The great worship leader King David sang these words in Psalm 119: “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
Through my experience leading worship and singing God’s Word with kids for over seventeen years, I have become even more convinced music is one of the best tools God created to pass truth from generation to generation. We see it over and over insignificant moments in the Bible… songs springing from the hearts of Moses and David, as well as Mary the mother of Jesus. Music is woven into the fabric of our souls and God often uses it to prepare our hearts to receive wisdom from the Holy Spirit.
Helping Kids Participate In Worship
We have learned through trial and error over the years about how to teach kids to worship and how to help all of the children participate. We always need to keep in mind as leaders that God has wired us in many different ways and, therefore, we express our worship differently.
Some kids (literally) jump at the opportunity to worship and love to participate in every activity on Sunday morning, while others are reserved, careful, and very self-conscious. It is important to allow each child to participate according to their own personality and wiring.
That being said, we have found 5 factors that greatly increase participation in worship with young people:
- Find the Right Flow – I lead and facilitate worship in a number of ways on Sunday mornings. We typically lead four worship songs per service. I love to divide our set into songs where we sing God’s Word and songs where we sing directly to God in worship. For example, on a recent Sunday, we sang “I Believe” (John 3:36), and “Trust” (Proverbs 3:5-6), as well as “Way Maker”, and “Good, Good Father”. I love to launch our worship time with a fun, joy-filled song of worship and then land it with a more thoughtful, vertical song praising God for His goodness, faithfulness, and love. The energetic songs at the beginning help new kids feel welcome and ignite the energy in the room. The slower songs at the end quiet their spirits and prepare them to listen to the upcoming lesson. Before we sing, we often have a child come to the front and quote from memory one of the verses we will be singing. It is so rewarding for the leaders to see how many kids are getting God’s Word in their hearts and it encourages other kids to learn the verses.
- Cast Vision For Worship – It is important to teach children that worshiping God is part of what God created them to do. We can worship God in many ways, and one of those ways is to sing songs to Him. There are so many verses in the Bible that highlight this, so find a moment at the beginning of worship to read one of those verses from the Word, like this one from Psalm 95:1-2: “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!”
- Encourage Participation From All Leaders – It is important to encourage all of your children’s ministry leaders to participate in worship – and to the best of their ability, join in singing and doing the hand motions (for the songs that have them). Just as there are different personality types for kids, the same applies to adults, but it makes a huge difference if your ministry leaders are engaged and having fun with the kids during worship rather than standing at the back of the room, arms crossed, sneaking looks at their phones. Let your volunteers know that engaging with kids and taking part in the worship and activities is one of the greatest ways they can lead and influence the children.
- Recruit Youth and Young Adults To Lead Worship/Hand Motions – Our Seeds Family Worship team is made up of youth and young adults, and that is by design. Children look up to teenagers and young adults and want to be like them. When they see them genuinely participating in worship and having fun, they will feel safe and encouraged. The older kids in children’s ministry (especially the boys) are going to be much more likely to join in if they see some youth worshiping the Lord. It is also essential to teach the youth how to lead, and share with them the importance of setting a great example for the kids (1 Timothy 4:12). If you have not tried this approach in your ministry, I highly recommend you find some youth with a heart for worship to be part of your children’s ministry worship team. Equip them and call them into the significant role as a kid’s worship leader.
- Pray For God To Use You As His Instruments – Our Seeds Family Worship ministry culture has three simple areas of emphasis. We are prayerful, positive, and productive. We lead ministry first and foremost through prayer. Philippians 2 tells us that “it is God who works in us to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Pray with your worship team and your leaders for God’s Spirit to be at work and to lead your team. We all know the dynamics of children’s ministry and the busyness of Sunday morning, so prayer is essential to help us tap into God’s strength, power, and His agenda. We are His instruments! We want Him to use us to do what He desires to do in the lives of all of the children and parents that we are called to serve.
One Final (Musical) Note of Encouragement
I hope you will be able to implement these 4 practical ideas into the children’s worship at your church. If you do, I truly believe you will see the fruit in the hearts of your children when they sing God’s Word. I have one final (musical) note of encouragement from 1 Corinthians 15:57-58, which is: “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”