This Sunday morning I experienced one of the greatest joys of leading worship. As I looked down from my position on stage during our closing song I saw my daughter, Rebekah. She was standing next to her friend Ginger and both girls had their eyes closed and little hands raised in worship as they sang “How Great is our God”. The song was in their hearts as they weren’t staring at us or the lyrics. These girls have professed Jesus Christ as their Lord and they were truly worshiping Him.
These girls are 8-years old.
I had the privilege of leading our KidJam worship this past weekend at SSCC. KidJam is the 1st – 5th grade elementary service. It’s usually high energy with a lot of moving parts and segments. I’ve been asking you what your questions were about church music and leadership and several of you asked about leading kids in worship.
When approaching a kid’s worship service I want to accomplish two things. First, I want to captivate them with exciting music so that they are interested. Kids are used to Disney Channel, color, sound, movement, and interaction so I want to be sure they will connect.
Second, I want them to experience a true encounter with God as they worship. I want to give them more than an energy boost. Kids will clap, shout, and sing along but without some instruction they may not really understand what worship is all about. They can very well just be excited for the sake of being excited.
When planning or leading a children’s worship service there are many things to consider. Today I’d like to discuss eight tips that may help you as you consider the worship culture of your children’s ministries.
1. Try to get your most passionate, active leaders on stage.
You’d think that stage presence wouldn’t matter with kids but they are watching everything and if you’re excited, they are excited. They learn by imitation. If you aren’t an expressive worshiper they will not be expressive either.
2. Go with lots of energy.
They like fast and furious. Songs that they can clap to, jump to, shout to are all great songs. Kids naturally have a lot of energy and if you can get them engaged they will light up the room with response.
3. Bring it down to simple worship.
The mistake we can easily make when leading kids in worship is to only lead them fast and furious. Remember we are leading them into a place of worship. At some point, dial it down and do something more simple so the kids can begin to sense God’s Presence around them and in them. Drop your instrumentation down at some point so you can hear them singing in the room and follow them.
4. Teach them
Kids aren’t going to listen to a 20-minute discourse on theological worship and the Hebrew words for praise. They will; however, respond to simple, bite-size encouragements about why we sing, why we worship, how we respond to God, and how to be aware of His Presence. Take advantage of this in your song setups and intros.
5. Get them involved.
Nothing leads a kid like seeing another kid in action. Get some of your other kids involved. Reach out to your older students from middle school and high school. Be sure they are passionate worshipers and have good stage presence. Consider getting a few of the elementary kids to volunteer to come and help you lead the songs. You can switch this out each week. They are honored to be asked and by having them on stage it makes the kids feel like this really is about them. (and while it is about them, it’s not about them at all, right?)
6. Keep it short.
Don’t overwhelm kids with 30 minutes of singing. 2-3 songs is plenty.
7. Keep if familiar.
Keep your setlists down to maybe 7-10 songs for most of the year. If you’re only doing 2 songs per week this means some may not get repeated for an entire month. You want the kids to remember the songs.
8. Sing songs that are understandable.
Review the lyrics and help kids understand what they are singing. This echos my point about teaching them. Try to use simpler songs that they can explain. If the kids cannot explain what the song means you probably shouldn’t have it as a regular song unless you are going to explain it.
These are a few tips that I’ve found helpful in planning worship for kids. The greatest reward is seeing them with their eyes closed in worship and hearing them after the service still singing those songs to God.
I’d love to hear from you. What tips would you add? What are some of your favorite songs to use for kid’s worship services? Share in the comments below.
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