Leading Worship in Children’s Ministry: Yancy Speaks
Published: May 28, 2015
Music plays a crucial role in your children’s ministry—or maybe you want it to but you don’t know how to get it there. We asked Christian music expert, Yancy, to fill us in on her approach to children’s worship songs.
Yancy has a number of resources for music ministry, including her album, “Yancy and Friends Little Praise Party: Taste and See.”
CM: What inspired you to make the Little Praise Party series of albums?
Yancy: I started off writing songs for my local church’s preschool ministry—writing songs to tie into what would be taught that next year. That’s how the first record came to life. Once I saw how people responded to those songs and videos and realized the need for resources for that age group, it became a series.
CM: What are you most excited about regarding your new album, Little Praise Party: Taste and See?
Yancy: I want this generation to taste and see that the Lord is good. Music is a powerful way we learn and remember. We all have amazing memories tied to music. I know that the messages in these songs will be planted into the hearts and spirits of those who listen. The Word of God in these songs can help guide kids for years, far into their adult years. That’s what excites and motivates me about this music.
CM: Tell us about the features of the Little Praise Party app. How can it benefit children’s ministers, and does it work only when paired with the album?
Yancy: The app available for iOS and Android features five videos each month (four english and one spanish). It’s a great resource for churches to tell families about. Kids can sing along with songs they might already do at church with their smart devices. It’s a great way to entertain young kids and plant God’s truths in their heart at the same time, and it’s a free app.
CM: Tell us about your experience with children’s ministry.
Yancy: I was born into children’s ministry. It’s all I’ve known! I’m a pastor’s kid (PK), my dad is Jim Wideman. I grew up singing on worship teams, being on puppet teams, setting up chairs, and making visitor packs. I knew from an early age God had called me to do music with my life, and I started off making more traditional contemporary Christian music and leading worship. Eventually, children’s ministry and my music merged to become what I do now. It was an amazing aha moment that I hadn’t seen before. God began to use my childhood and my family experience, mixed with something I love and am drawn too. I believe in ministry to kids because I’ve seen the fruit of it. I know the blessing of kids falling in love with Jesus. Children’s ministry is a must! I’m proud to be a second-generation children’s minister.
CM: What are your ultimate goals when you’re creating music for children?
Yancy: I try to write songs about things I know churches are going to talk about and teach throughout the year. I write songs about things I want to talk about in concert. I’m inspired by my friend’s kids and my son writing songs about things they’re going through and struggling with. It’s an amazing gift when people connect with the songs and the songs become personal for them, their families, their children’s ministries. I LOVE creating resources churches can use. That’s definitely one of my biggest joys. I’m passionate about writing great songs that are recorded in a relevant way to serve the church.
Simplicity is also an important thing to me. It’s what makes writing songs for kids both easy and hard. Simplifying a truth to be compact and, at times, limiting how many sections there are for younger kids can be a challenge. When I get to the point of doing a song live and seeing it work in real life it’s always a huge moment. My songs are my kids. They’re part of me. An example of this sort of simplicity on the new album is the song, “Stop and Go.” It teaches kids to stop and listen to what God says, then go and do what He tells them to do. I’m far older than my target audience and yet it’s still a truth I need to be reminded of and live out.
CM: Some children’s ministers might not have the resources or musical background to create the kind of music ministry they’d like to create. What recommendations might you have for a children’s minister in this kind of situation?
Yancy: When it comes to leading kids in worship I like to say, “It’s more about your leadership ability than musical ability.” I’m not saying to sound like nails on a chalkboard in a microphone BUT I am saying that what makes you a great leader, teacher, storyteller, etc. is the same that will make you a great worship leader. It’s about connecting with your audience, taking them on a journey and leading them to join you and participate.
You very well could be great at training someone to lead your kids worship. Find the person that may have the musical ability and experience and coach them into being a great worship leader with many of the qualities that you already use in ministry. Try watching a Hillsong Kids concert DVD, then talk about what you see with your worship leaders. Navigate a conversation about what could be and what you can do right now to lead kids more effectively based on what you see.
CM: What role do you see music playing in children’s ministry in the future?
Yancy: I believe it’s an amazing tool that we have in ministry. It’s a great way to connect with kids, break down walls, and open up hearts to hear about Jesus. If the music you use isn’t relevant to culture, the year we live in, and where kids are at, then I feel you’re doing yourself and the kids a disservice.
Realize that music is a tool you can use to engage with kids. What you play before and after class is important. How can you use music in your services beyond the worship songs? I mentioned earlier about how we have memories, relationships, and experiences all tied to music. For example, I can recall songs that were on worship tapes my mom listened to in our family minivan when I was a kid. I can sing those songs and melodies even though it’s been decades since I had those experiences. Things trigger my mind in conversations that remind me of those songs. When we sing songs filled with God’s Word, His truth, and His praises, those memories will not soon be fleeting. I believe they can come to mind in random conversations and experiences to be a gentle nudge that guides us closer to God.
David was a man after God’s own heart. I believe that’s because of how David learned to worship God no matter what was going on in His life. When he needed a shelter and a hiding place, and when he was lying in green pastures. Worship is our response to God. I want us to help kids learn that the conversation they can have with God through worship is an integral part of their walks with Christ. Being in His presence is a gift that no one can take away from us. I believe we’ll give our kids a great foundation for them to continue on their journeys with God.
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