One of the goals of children’s ministry is to prepare young people to be fully engaged members of the church for their entire lives. One of the aspects of this is leading kids into the practice of worship. This especially means worship through music, which can be particularly challenging. After all, leading worship in children’s ministry involves engaging a wide group of kids, and asking them to step out of their comfort zone. When worship music doesn’t go well, it can be painful, but when it’s done right, it’s incredibly energizing and joyous.
So, what can you do as a leader to create a great worship experience? I’ve had the experience of seeing kids stare at me, unimpressed, and here’s what I’ve learned from that:
Give the kids a reason to praise God: Something that has really helped has been to highlight the meaning of each song we sing, and tie it into our lesson for the day. For example, we sang “Counting on God” when we were learning about Joseph, and before we sang I talked about how Joseph knew he could trust God, even during difficult times. I pointed out that all of us can count on God no matter what, and reminded the kids that this is what that song was about. If you give the kids a reason to praise God, they’re more likely to step out of their comfort zones to do it.
Don’t skimp on instructions. This is especially important if you’re asking the kids to sing with motions. If you take the time to show the kids what they can do with their arms and legs, it will give them a way to engage, even if they’re not sure of the words (or can’t read them). I’ve noticed that spelling out how they can move along with me beforehand has made a big difference.
Plan some energetic fun. Kids love the opportunity to be silly and have fun. One of the best ways to get the kids to engage in more contemplative worship it to mix in some wild songs. If you get crazy, they’ll follow, and they’ll be more engaged when it’s time to be serious.
Show them that worship is more than music. Worshiping through music is wonderful for kids, because it’s a great introduction to a life marked by praising God. Don’t stop with music though! Give your kids that chance to worship through journals, prayer, service, etc. These are crucial as we seek to create a generation that worships God with their entire lives!
What about you? What tips do you have for creating an atmosphere of worship in your ministry? Please share!