Discover the value of a children's ministry worship toolkit
How do we equip and lead our children in worship, in order that their ability to express their worship to God moves beyond a meeting and into their everyday lives? Ruth Trbojevic shares some vital tools.
As we stand singing a familiar worship song, my little daughter, now a grand age of two and a half is in my arms, with her hand raised and her eyes closed together. In that moment, we are loving Jesus.
Other times in worship I catch a glimpse of my ten-year-old son, who plays the Cajon as part of the worship team, with his eyes closed, lost in that moment of worship to his Saviour. I love to see my children worship, those moments when they are totally immersed in loving and worshipping Jesus.
Yet, honestly, that isn’t always my experience; sometimes the little one doesn’t want to do anything I ask, my ten-year-old son is stroppy and my teenage daughter is being moody. Truthfully, those moments are exasperating.
There are a variety of different reasons that children disengage during worship and the reality is that, especially during corporate times of worship, there will often be a multitude of distractions for a child - both externally and internally.
Whilst there are those things which we have no control over, there are a variety of ways in which we can engage and focus a child’s attention towards God.
For all of us, old and young, our worship is a response to who God is. Our response to who He is and all He has done. This is why teaching children who God is and all He has done in ways in which they can grasp and understand is vital at each stage of their development. It is our understanding of who God is and all He has done that fuels our worship.
Our worship which is conveyed in our togetherness as we gather as the church and also in our individual lives as we express our worship in and by the things we say and the way we live.
Our role as leaders is to equip and lead our children in worship, in order that their ability to express their worship to God moves beyond the structure of the church service or children’s session into every day of their lives.
Opening up your toolkit
We can consider our preparation for worship like opening a toolkit or toolbox. Within our toolkit, there are a variety of different tools we can use to direct our children’s focus onto God and equip them to express their worship. This toolkit works in partnership with the Holy Spirit, with parents, with our teaching and our testimonies.
Common mistakes that are made with this toolkit is that we only ever use one tool or we provide a tool without the right amount of supervision or instruction.
For example when using streamers and scarves within worship - at our church, we do not have them available throughout the worship time. We carefully consider in advance at what point their usage is most appropriate to the flow of worship and will best serve the children who choose to engage in this way. This tool isn’t something we will use every week, yet will be a regular feature of worship.
Creating a children's ministry worship toolkit
Here are a few ideas for those things which can enhance your worship toolkit:
1. Why and How: Take the time to explain why we worship and share different ways in which we can engage in a time of worship. Personally, we find that on occasions we have taken the time to do this, the level of engagement within worship increases. “We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the LORD, about his power and his mighty wonders.” Psalm 78:4
2. Be a Worshipper: As a leader, be a worshipper. I love those moments when those things which have been modelled and learnt are owned and expressed.
3. Give opportunity: Look for opportunities for children to engage in leading worship. From children singing in a choir to those learning an instrument shadowing a musician or lead a song.
4. Relevant Songs: Look for songs which musically and lyrically connect with children. We want the songs we sing to carry meaning as they sing them throughout their week. “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD” PSALM 150:6
5. Sign Language or Makaton signs: Teach children keywords (e.g. Jesus, love, forever, praise) in sign language or Makaton that they can use in worship. This helps to focus their attention and encourages them to give thought to the words they are singing.
6. Streamers and Scarves: Invite the children to use streamers and scarves as an expression of their worship. “Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and harp.” Psalm 149:3
7. Actions and Dance: Whether it is simple actions, freestyle movement or a choreographed dance, we can use our whole body to worship God. A great tool for your children’s sessions and occasionally as part of your multigenerational worship.
8. Noisy Worship: From homemade shakers and baby rattles to percussion instruments encouraging the children to participate in noisy worship! It’s what it suggests it is - loud! You probably don’t want to use this every week and a whole worship set may upset those rhythmically attuned, yet great fun in moderation. “Praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals.” Psalm 150:6
9. Worship Mural: A roll of paper stretching across your worship area can be a wonderful invitation within a time of worship to help creatively focus a child’s worship of God. I love to use a worship mural as a worship response alongside sung worship.
10. Flags: Flags may be old school but children love to use flags and I think secretly so do the leaders. “May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God.” Psalm 20:5
11. Soaking: Encouraging a group of children to lay still and quiet might sound like a challenge. Yet with clear explanation, gentle guidance and a set time frame, this change of posture can encourage even your most lively children to focus on God.
What are some of the things you will add to your worship toolkit?
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