Engaging Kids In Worship
“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the lands! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into His presence with singing!”
“Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise!”
Scripture is full of exhortations to give praise, worship, honor and thanksgiving to God! By doing so, we enter into His holy presence! How vital it is to our relationship with God that we not only learn about Him, but know Him personally, experience Him and learn how to worship Him! God created us to worship Him for all of eternity. Let us start eternity now by creating opportunities of worship for our kids!
How does one engage kids in worship? First of all, kids CAN worship, but do so differently than adults. Kids, by their nature, are so open and uninhibited. They also come with an abundance of energy when it comes to worship! We can capture that energy and openness by engaging them through the song selection, motions and the right leadership.
A time of worship with music has a certain “flow”. Begin with fast, upbeat songs. Set the pace with a good beat. Music should be loud enough to fill the room. Kids need to “feel” the music. After several fast songs, gradually bring it down to slower, more reflective songs. The music can still be loud but should move the kids to prayer. If appropriate, invite the kids to close their eyes, sit or kneel and to focus on God. If at any time during the song where there is no singing, or the “dead” time between songs, keep the kid’s hearts and minds engaged by having the leader read a verse in scripture, lead a spontaneous prayer, or invite the kids to lift up their arms and imagine that God is giving them a hug. Depending upon the hosted event, this time of more reflective worship will then go into a talk or teaching, or into the next activity. We usually plan 25 to 35 min from the beginning of upbeat worship to this transition time.
If you are also closing with worship, you can bring the pace back up with faster, upbeat songs. This can last 10 to 20 min long, but if the kids are really engaged, they won’t want to leave. We’ve led events where we literally had to tell the kids that it was time to go because their parents had been waiting a long time! What a blessing it is when kids want to stay longer and give glory to God!
Song Selection/ Giving CDs Away
When choosing songs, we prefer to “teach up” rather than to “teach down”. We typically don’t select songs that only appeal to the younger children. We have found that during ministry events with combined ages, it’s extremely important to keep the older ones engaged. They need to think that it’s “cool” to worship God. Then, in turn, the younger kids will follow because they want to be just like the older ones.
It’s also important to repeat the songs often enough that the kids learn them. Introduce new songs slowly. If you are going to be using certain songs during the year, use the worship during VBS to teach some of the songs.
If you want the kids to have the music, give parents a list of songs or CDs that you will be using and encourage them to purchase the CD or the songs individually on iTunes. We offer ministries a great discount on bulk order purchases. If you would like to purchase CDs for your ministry, please contact us. Burning CDs and giving them away is not only illegal, it financially hurts the ministry. Producing quality music is expensive. Please support the ministry by puchasing the CDs rather than burning them to give away.
Kids love motions to songs! Incorporate them in your worship time. View our Youtube channel for ideas. When choreographing a song, We like to use a combination of sign language, motions, and dance moves. It’s helpful if you have choreography help from those who are familiar with sign language, have a dance background, or other youth that are current with some of the latest dance moves.
If it’s a one time event where kids are coming from different places, choose popular songs and keep the motions simple. Engage them with more with clapping and raised arms. If it’s an ongoing or repeated event, you have the opportunity to incorporate more motions and dance moves. Don’t shy away from choreography that you think is too difficult. Today’s kids like the challenge and can pick it quickly.
Those leading the motions, should exaggerate the movements. If those that lead have fully raised arms, you can expect most of the crowd to have arms half raised. Sign language needs to be deliberate and concise. Even facial expressions need to communicate energy and joy. Smile!
It’s also very important that the adults in the same room are also participating in the worship. It’s so tempting for adults to stand in the back and chat. This is distracting to the kids and worship leaders and also communicates to the kids that they don’t need to participate. If the adult can’t do the motions fully, encourage them to do what they can do or simply to stay engaged by clapping or raising their arms. Again, we need to model what we expect from the kids.
Training Up Young Worship Leaders
It makes a huge impact on kids to see other young people leading the worship and motions. It’s so “cool” to their peers leading and encourages the audience of kids to participate. However, those in leadership need to possess certain qualities and should be selected by invitation only.
Begin your selection by praying about who you should select! Carefully observe the kids during your worship time. Are they engaged themselves? Do they enjoy singing and doing the motions? Do they have a pleasant personality and a good attitude? Can they receive instruction and correction or are they highly sensitive and get their feelings hurt easily? Can they physically keep a beat? Can they laugh at themselves if they mess up? Are they flexible and can quickly adjust to change? Do they have a love for God? Do they live a life of good example? These are all important questions to ask yourself when selecting your team.
The most important quality they must possess is the proper disposition of their heart. They need to lead for the right reasons and not be doing it for themselves. A dance background can be very helpful, but the proper disposition of their heart to lead other kids in worship is more important that refined dance moves.
Also, consider having two groups of youth leading. Kids in grades 2-5 can be involved in peer leadership. This group leads by example in the front of the crowd facing the older leaders. This is a powerful way to model right in front of the kids how they should be participating. Jr. High, High School and young adult leaders lead in the front facing the crowd.
Girls need to especially mindful of how they dress when they lead worship. No skirts or tops that are revealing when they bend over or show tummies when they lift their arms. Hair should be pulled back. No heavy make up or big jewelry. With both girls and boys, the clothing that they wear should not be a distraction to the kids.
Try to recruit kids from a variety of social circles. In turn, they will provide the necessary leadership to their peers. If they aren’t suited to lead the singing and motions, have them lead by being involved with other areas necessary to kids worship. Being in charge of the power point, playing the music CD, running the lights, running the sound, greeting the kids or taking up the offering are all ways that they can “lead” by active participation.
Worship comes from the heart. If a leader is having a bad day, don’t have them lead, have them participate. The worship leader’s disposition sets the tone for the time of worship. It’s important that they prepare their heart and mind to lead. They need to prepare themselves to focus on God and worship Him. We are all made to be worshippers of God. But be very selective who you choose to lead, they need a strong faith and need to have a life complimentary to worship.