About three years ago, I found myself in a place I had never been before in my ministry career: Leading worship for kids. Over the course of my ten years working in the local church, I have led worship for many demographics and types of events and even different styles. But I had never done anything like this. It was one of the scariest things to take on, but it quickly turned into one of the most rewarding. Here are some things I’ve learned over the last few years in leading kids worship…
Don’t dumb it down for them
This is truly one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to this topic. Kids may be young, but they are capable of understanding so much more than what we give them credit for. At least give them a chance to step up! Early on in my experience, I shied away from songs like “10,000 Reasons,” fearing that they were too lyrically complex. I had kids begging to sing that song. And on the first Sunday we did it, they sang so loud I didn’t even need to sing into my mic. From then on, I stopped putting limits on them, and started just choosing songs that were current and easy to sing. They stepped up every time. And they always wanted more!
Song choice is huge, but so is movement. Standing and singing a song with kids does not work the way it might with adults. If you want kids to be engaged in worship, you’ll have to include movement. This can be as complex or as simple as you want it to be. We opted to go somewhere in the middle, but with a lot of intentionality. Jumping around on the stage and not thinking through your movement can be distracting and often creates chaos in your worship environment. But purposefully creating movement that matches the lyrics and feel of the song – movements that EVERYONE on stage can lead the kids in together — makes your worship experience feel cohesive and thoughtful. Kids respond well to that thoughtfulness.
Teach them what it means
I am often struck by how huge our role is. As we lead kids in worship, we are literally teaching them what it means to worship for the first time; teaching them how to worship, how to sing, how to carry themselves when they do these things. This is setting the tone for how they will experience worship later in their life. And I don’t know about you, but I want them to have a solid foundation for worship that allows them to be fully themselves as they transition to more grown-up worship experiences later on! We can do this by making sure we are being authentic as we lead them from the stage. Take opportunities in between songs to tell them what it means. Show them that worship is important by how we approach this special time each weekend.
Make sure its done with excellence
We talk a lot about excellence when it comes to creating worship experiences for adults. But sadly, I hear very little of this kind of talk when we are approaching kids worship. Instead I often hear a lot of disheartening statements like, “They’re kids, they won’t care!” Friends, there is NEVER an excuse for bringing anything less than 100% excellence to the stage – even for kids. They may be young, but they sense disorder easier than anyone. We must bring the same amount of care to planning worship for kids as we do when we plan worship for adults. No matter what this looks like for your church, never give it less than your very best! Kids are looking to us to show them what to do in worship. May we never take this responsibility lightly.