This is a guest post by David Ray, Founder, Doorpost Songs
You never intended to become a worship leader.
But somewhere along the way, the role of “worship leader for children” was added to your job description. Now you’ve got to figure out how to do something more than just play a couple YouTube clips while the fifth-grade boys give each other wet willies in the back row.
How do we create worship moments for kids that are more than just music? Is there a pathway to truly life-changing kidmin worship? Yes! There is! Here are five keys from my years in worship ministry that will help set your course toward engaging, impactful worship.
1. Teach your kids what the Bible says about worship.
Singing worship songs together is not a self-explanatory activity. What makes a worship service different from a concert? Why should I participate in singing, especially if I’m not really a good singer or I don’t enjoy the song? Doesn’t God already have everything? Why do I need to praise him?
Fortunately, there are good answers to all these questions in the pages of Scripture. Take time in your worship services to teach what the Bible says about worship. (Spoiler alert: there’s a lot!) You don’t have to teach it all at once. Think of these moments as pieces of a puzzle. You’re helping your kids put together a picture of what it means to worship God one puzzle piece at a time.
Study what the Bible says about worship. You might start with passages like 1 Chronicles 16:8-15, Psalm 95:1-7, Psalm 100, Psalm 107:2, 8, John 4:23-24, and Colossians 3:16. Find a bite-sized piece and start laying a Scriptural foundation for worship.
2. Set an example for your kids by becoming a lead worshipper.
Think for a moment about what is actually going on during your times of worship. Where are you standing and what are you doing? What about your volunteers and leaders? Jess and I have led worship for kids at churches where the volunteers and leaders stand around the edges and in the back, paying little to no attention to the worship. Arms crossed. Phones out. Disengaged.
What kind of example does this set for those kids? What does it say about the importance of what’s going on in our worship service? You – and every volunteer and leader in the room – have an opportunity to model life-changing, spirit-stirring worship for the hyper-observant eyes of your kids. Are you taking advantage of that opportunity? Or does your disengagement betray you?
This Sunday, if you can, position yourself up front. Get your volunteers and leaders in amongst the kids. Let them hear you sing. Let them see you raise your hands. Let them experience the delight you take in your Savior. As lead worshippers, we’re not cheerleaders – standing on the sidelines hollering encouragement but never getting into the game. We were meant to lead by example.
3. Make Scripture songs a part of your worship set.
Music is unique in the way it interacts with our brains, and because of that it creates lasting memories of often stunning clarity. This is why Scripture songs are such a powerful tool for teaching the truths of God’s Word. Find the right song and you will have implanted a piece of God’s Word deep inside the minds of your children, a seed that will germinate and take root and last a lifetime, a promise from God they can recall with instant, life-altering, darkness-banishing clarity.
This realization is the heart of the Doorpost Songs mission. If we can take the truth of God’s word and set it to a catchy, singable tune, we’re truly hiding God’s Word inside our hearts. But the best payoff isn’t immediate. It’s years down the road – maybe decades – when, in a moment of crisis, God’s promise comes flooding in to your mind, a light in the midst of seemingly impenetrable darkness, riding on the wings of a simple melody.
4. Make worship a family activity.
Most of the families in your church will give you one hour, and they won’t even give you that every week. If you’re only focusing on the one church hour and not paying attention to the other 167, you’re working against your own effectiveness. Far more impactful than the handful of hours those kids spend with you are the multitude of hours they spend away from you. For that reason, investing in families is a “must” for every children’s ministry leader. And in the area of worship that means two things: teaching families to worship at home and bringing families together at church.
The phrase “worship at home” may give you pause, but it’s really quite simple. Donald Whitney’s short book Family Worship provides an excellent template: read God’s Word, sing God’s Word, and pray God’s Word. We’ve used this simple formula as the basis for our Family Worship Guides that accompany each Doorpost Songs album. Each Family Worship Moment takes about fifteen minutes to complete and helps parents learn the basic template Whitney lays out in his book.
Then find ways to bring your families together in worship at church. Too many families spend Sunday mornings apart – parents in the worship center, kids separated by age group. Use special events to bring families together for worship. Hold a fun family worship night several times a year. Invite (and incentivize) parents to attend children’s worship with their kids on a Sunday. If a parent chooses to bring their kids to the worship center instead of to your ministry, don’t admonish them. Celebrate them!
5. Give kids a place to serve as worship leaders.
A recent Lifeway study found four childhood behaviors that made an observable, statistically significant impact on spiritual health in adulthood: regular Bible reading, regular prayer, listening to primarily Christian music, and serving regularly in church. When you provide a place for a child to serve, you not only fill a volunteer role, you make an investment in that child’s long-term spiritual health.
In the area of worship that means finding ways to incorporate kids in leadership positions. One of the simplest ways to start is by forming a team of kids to lead hand motions with worship songs. Singing is another easy way to pull kids into worship leadership. Whether you have ten kids in your church or a thousand, I’m certain there are kids who can sing! Find out who they are. As kids grow older and begin to learn how to play instruments, they can be incorporated creatively as well.
Life-changing kidmin worship really is possible! But it might involve truly embracing your new role as “worship leader.” If it seems like a big responsibility, well…it is! But it’s also an incredibly rewarding one, one that can make an impact on a child for a lifetime. Review these five keys and start brainstorming with your team. What’s one step forward you can take in each of these areas?
Commit yourself to these five things – teaching your kids about worship, setting a good example, making Scripture a part of your worship, teaching families to worship together, and giving kids a place to serve as worship leaders – and you’ll start to see life-changing worship taking place in your church as well!
Have more questions? I would be delighted to help in any way I can. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about Doorpost Songs and the difference it can make in your church, visit doorpostsongs.com.