We all love to see children in church; as worship ministry leaders, however, we often struggle to find ways to include them in the adult worship services. I know I do.
Jesus set children up as a model for believers when he said, “Don’t prevent [children] from coming to me. God’s kingdom is made up of people like these.”
Presently I am working with staff at my church to brainstorm ways of including children in worship. Here I am defining children as those in 8th grade or lower and, in particular, the youngest ones.
Involving children in worship can be challenging because:
- Every element in a service should be excellent, even if the people leading worship are only five years old.
- Children’s involvement in worship should be purposeful.
- Adults should be drawn to God through children, not just proud of their children’s performance.
A Positive Example
Here is an example from our church. I am not sharing this to say we have it all figured out; rather, I want to share a moment that was very meaningful to all of us. This idea was not mine; I am so grateful for other people and their creative ideas.
This past Sunday a 10 year old played a short piano arrangement of a hymn for the prelude to the Classic service. He played well and his parents taught him through the process that he only needs to think about playing for God rather than worrying about the 300+ people in the congregation. All of us were encouraged and inspired as we began worship.
This week people have continued to comment on how meaningful his playing was to them. Children can have a huge impact on worship.
Before deciding how to involve children in worship you must decide why you want to involve children in worship.
Here are some reasons for including children, although definitely not exhaustive:
- We are a family church, and we want our services to be multi-generational.
- God called us to be like little children in our faith.
- We want to train children how to worship and to lead worship.
Once you have decided the “why,” you can set about deciding the “how.”
For example, if you decide you only want younger children to learn to worship rather than to lead worship, you might simply provide ways for children to participate in the services from the congregation rather than having them on stage leading worship. For me having children learn to worship is not enough; I want them to learn to lead worship.
Here are six ways children can help lead worship:
- Play or sing during the prelude to the service. The environment is very positive and the pressure is minimal. NOTE: Audition the children so that the experience is positive for them and for the adults in the service.
- Lead motions to a song in the services and invite people in the service to join them. Motions and children can be a great tool in teaching adults to be free in worship. NOTE: A few well rehearsed children leading precise motions are often more effective than a large group of children doing decent motions.
- Sing a piece of music with the choir or worship band. NOTE: Plan well in advance for best results and minimal stress.
- Sing or play a special piece of music. NOTE: Plan even further in advance.
- Draw/paint/color images to fit the message for the day, then post them in the lobby and/or use them for the bulletin cover. NOTE: Choose a topic that is easily illustrated: Daniel and the lions’ den, etc.
- Act in a drama sketch or production. NOTE: Definitely audition them, but keep your expectations reasonable. This is not Broadway!
These ideas are not original with me. I would love to hear your ideas.
How do you involve children in worship?