This is the original manuscript that was used for my article in Children's Ministry Magazine, titled "Sing a New Song." This article describes how God has wired kids for worship, and how we can lead them into worship.
We often try to make worship more difficult than it’s meant to be. It doesn’t require a certain setting, or special training. Worship is simply telling back to God his “worth-ship,” or worthiness; that He is worth anything and everything. Contemporary worship leader and songwriter Matt Redman says, “To worship God is to tell Him that we believe Him for who He says He is.” (Matt & Beth Redman, “Blessed Be Your Name” pub. Regal Books.).
Developmentally, kids connect with God as He is revealed in their world. Their ability to grasp God grows as their perception of the world around them grows. Smaller kids, whose world is the size of their family and the current room they are in, will be able to worship God for His actions & presence in those things. As kids develop and their world expands, they are able to worship God for His actions in the world that fits their developmental awareness. Go for content that fits the size of their world, but don’t be afraid to introduce “bigger picture” concepts that the Spirit will use to help them grow later. “Yes, Jesus Loves Me” contains huge theological implications; but God is able to fit that concept, which is as big as the universe and all time, into the heart of a child.
Your choice of music should fit the worship style and theology of your church. Look for music with enough energy to match the energy level of your kids. Whatever your church’s worship style, expect kids to be kids, and use kid-appropriate worship materials. [see sidebar] The Bible doesn’t describe any particular musical style for worship, but looking at Psalm 150, it seems OK to be noisy!
Select proven worship songs and energized hymns that fit the stage of development for kids in the room. Don’t be afraid to use many of the same songs you sing in “big church,” that fit their vocal ranges and temperament. Kids shouldn’t go into culture shock when they attend the adult service.
Our studies of collected research indicate that kids up through 5th & 6th grade prefer to sing along with kids voices over adults; it’s easy to “fit in” when they sing, and it’s more likely to be in their vocal range. Songs that work best are not too long; usually 2 or 3 minutes. Find and use energetic arrangements, but don’t be afraid to let kids “dig in” to worship with range-and-content-appropriate slow songs. Sing slower songs after two or three energized ones, and keep them to only 2 or 3 minutes long, if possible. Present teaching or prayer time after a slower song, when you’ve got your kids in a quieter, focused place.
Be sure to continue reading part 5.
Bob Singleton is President of God’s Kids Worship™, making kids worship DVDs for churches of all sizes; he’s also a kids worship ministry consultant, and a platinum album award-winning, Grammy and Dove nominated, producer of music for kids.