Most children ministries have some sort of worship element involved. Well, maybe I should rephrase that.... most children's ministries involve music in their lessons and desire to see children worship through music. We all know that kids learn well through music and most kids love to move to music, so set some big truths to music, pump it up and get the praise party started. That's it right?
But does that teach them to truly worship?
Years ago I read the book, "Teaching Kids Authentic Worship," and it truly changed the way I thought about the worship time in our children's ministry classes. I remember an illustration used in the book, where the author suggests having a child really focus on a baseball (at least I think it was a baseball) for a minute and then tell you what they learned about the baseball. The point the author was making is that we have to teach children what worship is and how to worship and then provide them with opportunities to worship. Worship must be taught. It's not something that just comes naturally; for kids, or for you and me!
Kids need to learn how to worship God because it is important for them to develop a relationship with God. When they worship God, they are acknowledging his power and majesty and expressing their love and devotion to him. Additionally, through worshiping God, kids learn to submit to his will and resign themselves to following his commands. And by building this foundation of real worship in childhood, children will grow up knowing how to keep their focus on God and His goodness despite the changing world around them.
In fact, one of the most important things that kids need to learn in life is how to worship God. Worship is how we show our love and appreciation for who He is and what He has done for us. It is also a way of magnifying His greatness and exalting Him above everything else in our lives. Worship is fundamental for the believer and what better time to teach this truth that in childhood.
So what is worship?
Worship is acknowledging God for who He is, acknowledging His worth, and focussing on Him.
Worship is about God, not about us.
5 Ideas to Teach Children to Worship:
Model True Worship - this is true for parents and children's ministry teachers alike. Allow children to see you worshipping. Tell them what you are worshipping about God. Be real. Kids can see when you're faking it.
Teach About Worship - There is a good lesson on churches worshipping God in the Back to Basics series. Show kids worship in the Bible. Define worship as focussing on who God is and what He has done. Help kids to see examples of worship in the Bible.
Focus on the Attributes of God - When we remember that worshipping God is about focussing on who He is and what He has done, the most basic thing is that children need to know who God is. One of my favorite ways to focus on the attributes of God, is to call out letters of the alphabet and have kids name an attribute of God that starts with that letter in the form of a sentence prayer of praise. [A - God you are almighty, D- God you are the deliverer.] This same concept can also be done by tossing a bean bag or ball to various kids in the room to have them name any attribute of God. Or, you can challenge a group to fill a poster board with attributes of God and then close in a time of praise. Another way to focus on attributes of God is to teach a lesson series on the attributes of God, such as "What's God Like?"
Act Out Worship - Do the illustration that I mentioned earlier with the baseball, but choose something that you really like. I once did this with a can of Diet Coke (which is funny to think back on because I haven't had one of those in 10 years and these days would have to choose something different). I stood in front of the class and instead of starting to talk about God and getting right into the Bible, I expounded on the wonderful things about this can of Diet Coke. I looked at the can. I talked about how it felt in my hand, how it was designed to be easy to drink out of, how the drops on condensation on the can let me know that it would be refreshing. Then I popped the top and was in awe of the sound it made. I took a sip and tried to explain how it felt in my mouth, how it tasted and how it made me feel. The kids honestly thought I was insane, but then I moved into a discussion on worship and how in essence I was worshipping the Diet Coke by telling them how wonderful it was. I helped kids to see that anything we love, and talk about, and spend time and money on, can be worshipped. I explained how we are all worshipping something, either God or the things around us. As the class went on, we talked about worship and how God alone should be worshipped.
Introduce Songs with Scripture - Before you start to think that I'm opposed to singing with kids in worship, please hear me out. I LOVE singing with kids and there are some excellent music resources these days that serve to really help kids truly worship; thereby focussing on God in the song. Some of my favorites are Seeds Family Worship and Sovereign Grace kids music. However, as much as I love singing with kids, I have learned that the best way to truly elicit worship (or at least open the possibility of worship) is to think through songs in children's ministry the same way most churches do. When writing lessons, I carefully choose songs to further teach the theme of the lesson. And, before singing the song, I let the kids know why we are singing it. I encourage them to pay attention to the words, to notice what it teaches us about who God is, and how it helps us to know God more. And, I back up what I'm saying with Scripture before pressing play on the song. This simple act helps me to worship and helps kids to understand the why of the song and reinforce what they are hearing.
- Use the Sing! Shout! Jump - 6-weeks series to allow kids to see Biblical worship and learn to worship God as He is worshipped in Scripture. This Sunday school curriculum is designed to help kids learn about worshipping God. Through fun and engaging lessons, kids will be able to understand the importance of worship and how they can praise God in their everyday lives. Each lesson in this six-week curriculum covers a different aspect of worship, including why we worship, how we worship, and what our attitude should be when we worship. Each lesson also includes a variety of fun activities, such as crafts, games, and discussion questions, to help reinforce the concepts being learned.