Here are some tips for getting kids of all ages to be fully engaged during worship.
For many children’s ministers, worship time with kids equates to singing a handful of songs and checking off another box on our to-do list. But leading worship effectively with the kids you serve begins with vision. What do you want kids to experience? How do you want them to engage? What’s your goal for the songs you’re leading? How does your worship time help kids grow in their relationship with God? Once you define your vision (what you want to see take place), you can plan, strategize, and work effectively to make worship an exciting and special time for everyone each week.
Leading young children in worship is always a unique adventure. You can do the same thing 100 times, and each time it’ll play out differently with preschoolers. Little ones are curious to learn about life. Start teaching preschoolers why we sing these songs to build a foundation for engaging in worship. They understand love; they love Mommy, Grandma, and their favorite toy. I like to tell preschoolers, “We sing to Jesus because we love him!” Ensure little ones have fun during worship. Songs that allow them to jump and move work best. Finally, demonstrate your joy for worship. Wear bright colors. (Yes, I know black is slimming and worked great for Johnny Cash, but color is more fun.) You’ll portray that you’re having more fun if you’re wearing bright colors and bold patterns.
Elementary kids may not have a clear picture of what worship is or what it looks like. So play worship video DVDs before and after your time together, such as those by Hillsong Kids or Bethel Kids, that show other kids participating in worship. As you lead this age group, use your vocal inflection as an accelerator—or decelerator. You can use your tone to help kids get louder and more excited. You can also alter the atmosphere and bring focus by talking more softly and in a more heartfelt tone. Make it a goal to let kids experience God’s presence through the songs you lead them in. When we help kids taste and see that God is good, they’ll long for more of him.
A great way to jump-start pre-teen engagement is to ask questions that demand kids’ response, whether it be verbal (like shouted responses) or an action (like waving hands or giving others high-fives). By doing this, you engage preteens before you’ve even started the song. They’ll be more likely to continue participating as you lead through the time of worship. Finally, become a great worshipper yourself. Your example matters. You can’t lead kids to a place you haven’t been. Think about how you personally engage when you’re in service. God’s Word is true when it tells us “You will always harvest what you plant.” Be a great worshipper yourself so you can help preteens become great at praising our super-wonderful God.
Yancy is a worship leader and songwriter for kids. She travels the globe doing family concerts and training worship leaders. She’s the creator of numerous worship resources for kids, and her songs and videos play in thousands of churches around the world.