“The man (or woman) who can make hard things easy is the educator.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
When a person makes a decision for Christ at a young age they are likely to remain a Christ Follower as they mature. It is vitally important that we make children’s worship engaging. It shouldn’t be a last priority or an oversight. Some of our best efforts should be made from birth to sixth grade. The future life of the Church depends on these little ones.
While I do not lead worship for the youngest in my church very often I love to observe the worship team that does and watch their effectiveness. The mission of adult and children’s worship is the same: lift up the name of Jesus. In doing so we learn how to honor the God who made us. Worshiping God is a learned response. Ever since the fall of man we’ve been worshiping ourselves intuitively but worshiping God by learning. Doing so at a young age will yield fruit that will be long lasting and growth that is exponential.
When I observe effective children’s ministry artists or worship teams I note quickly how intent they are to produce age appropriate material. For instance, just about the longest song that a three year old will participate in is about 2 minutes (and I mean the longest). A fourth grader may be able to handle a three or four song worship set with the songs sung back to back. The kindergartner may not be able to tolerate flashing lights or loud music, but the sixth grader is probably enthralled by it. Being aware of the age range within your group is critical. Plan appropriately.
As noted above, worship is a learned behavior. Even at three years old we worship ourselves. Teaching kids the value of saying that God has worth and that he deserves our best thoughts, behaviors, emotions and responses is part of the worship leader’s job. Imagine learning in fourth grade the power of worshiping God whether there is a mighty sound system or just a small upright piano. The performance isn’t the reason we worship, the heart God has for his people is why we worship. There would be so much less division in the church if every fourth grader understood this concept and took it with them into adulthood.
Learning the postures of worship at a young age is beneficial as well. While your second grader may not grasp the deepest level concept of why you raise your hands, being familiar with the act will help when he or she does learn the concept. I surmise that the act of lifting the hands in worship is much easier to do at the time when peer pressure hits for those who learned at a younger age to embrace it then those finding Christ later in life. While outward expressions of worship are not the only way to express worship to God, they are important. They are Biblical. And, they are learned.
Leaders of children’s songs ought to also take careful note of what the songs they are using say. Can the lyrics be justified by scripture? I have heard many children’s songs lately that are about partying and being loud in the presence of God. While it certainly is good to be joyful, to dance and to sing we also should be careful to confirm that the time spent together is leading us toward God. If the result of our music was that we had a dance party but we didn’t recognize Jesus as the reason for the celebration then we’ve missed the mark. There is a fine line in bringing the world into the Church. Please make sure that you test your songs’ lyrics and messages before using them with your kids.
There is quite a result when you see hundreds of kids worshiping God. It is marvelous! The impact is empowering in your own pursuit of the Lord. It’s easy to invite people to help you when you show them how easily kids take part with a good leader and a good team. The key to a great children’s program is to always choose music that is age appropriate. The songs should be able to be used for teaching and they be true to the Word of God while still being attractive and fun.
I would love to hear about how you or your church develops your children’s worship program. What are some of the key strategies that you employ weekly? How do you know you are being effective? Is your program age appropriate? Are you teaching about worship? I would love to hear! Please comment or private message…