It’s important for our kids to learn how to express themselves in worship—whether in response or adoration. Worship gives kids an opportunity to connect with God, each in a personal way. When we make room for response in worship, we allow kids to worship out of an overflow of their heart for God.
The four steps to take your children’s ministry worship to the next level are:
- Be intentional with worship.
- Evaluate where your children’s ministry worship is now.
- Plan for growth for your children’s ministry worship.
- Make room for response.
Be intentional with children’s ministry worship.
It can be easy to allow your children’s ministry worship to become an afterthought and not plan or prepare for it, throwing together songs at the last minute, or even just asking the kids which songs they want to sing when it’s time for worship.
While there can be some benefit to including the kids in the song-selection decision, it doesn’t have to happen as a result of poor planning. Another mistake is not having a vision or a strategy for children’s ministry worship.
When we let worship just be a time of kids “getting their energy out” or running around, we miss the opportunity for powerful and moving adoration and expression of praise.
Instead, make a plan for your worship and develop a vision. Kids are capable of knowing, experiencing, responding to, and praising God. Worship isn’t just to get out their energy or keep them busy; it’s a chance for them to connect with God and express their love for Him.
Be intentional with the songs you choose and how you do worship in your children’s services. Choose and plan your songs ahead of time (asking for kids’ input is great!) and include a variety of both well-known and loved songs and new songs to introduce.
Ensure your worship is age-appropriate, and look for opportunities to include all children in worship. Children can worship from the very beginning! Even babies, toddlers, and preschoolers can worship!
Another way to be intentional with your children’s ministry worship is by developing a team of passionate and committed worship leaders. It can be daunting to find people who are musically gifted and willing to commit as a leader for kids, but the role is less about the musical ability and more about inviting kids into the presence of God.
Look for a passionate worshiper who can point kids to God.
Worship gives kids an opportunity to engage with God, respond to Him, experience Him, and praise Him. Music is one of the greatest ways kids learn and express themselves.
If you watch young kids for any amount of time, you’ll likely see songs and singing incorporated into almost all parts of their daily lives! Worship allows kids to express their joy and love for God.
Evaluate where you are now.
Evaluate your children’s ministry worship and determine your goals, strengths, and weaknesses. You can even conduct formal evaluations with your volunteer team and gather their feedback and ideas. You can ask the kids which songs they like and don’t like and what ideas they have to make worship more engaging.
Consider the more moving or impactful experience you’ve seen or been a part of in children’s ministry worship. Think about what made it so powerful.
Take steps to understand a develop an engaging and moving atmosphere for worship.
Evaluating where you are now and what you’re going after helps you know and have an accurate picture of your current ministry situation and the needs, strengths, and weaknesses.
- Who is our audience? (The kids in your ministry: What are their ages? Are they highly churched? Outreach/seekers or new to church?)
- How engaged are the kids engaged in worship?
- Who are our worship leaders? (Volunteers? Who do we still need on our team? What roles could make our worship stronger?)
- What is the worship setting? (In the main service? In a kids-only service? Live music?)
- What is the worship style? Is it age appropriate for kids?
- What creative elements do we use in worship? What elements could we add to help kids engage more in worship?
- How many new songs are introduced each month? How many songs are repeated?
- What percentage of songs include motions/choreography? Are the moves too hard for the kids? Too easy? Are most of the kids engaged and doing the moves?
- What are the kids’ favorite songs? Do we have a song list and track the frequency of using each song?
- Do we use a balance of fast and slow songs?
- What is the flow of worship in the service? How effective and smooth are the transitions and placement of worship within the service?
- How engaging are the worship leaders?
- Lights and media: How can we use lightning to better set the atmosphere and mood for worship? Is our media helping kids engage with God? If not, how can we use media to help the worship atmosphere and experience?
Grow your children’s ministry worship.
An important part of growing your children’s ministry worship is building your team of leaders and volunteers. Look for people who are close with God and passionate during worship (look in the adult services too!). You can also use a spiritual gifts assessment and one-on-one recruiting.
Before you recruit, develop written role descriptions for every volunteer role you need. Set the standard and expectations for high quality ministry and give your volunteers ownership of the ministry. Share the vision for allowing kids to experience a relationship with God.
Remember that even someone who isn’t a musical rock star can be a kids’ worship leader. The most important part is someone who is passionate for God and can lead and model worship for kids, engaging the kids and drawing them into worship.
Once you have recruited your team, lead and train your worship team well. Provide volunteer role expectations and training. Invest in your leaders, provide resources, encourage rehearsals, provide evaluations and feedback, show appreciation and value.
Ensure you also provide community and care within a team. Volunteers don’t burn out because of the work; they burn out when they feel unvalued, un-cared for, and alone.
Training for worship volunteers can include a 4-week process.
- On Week 1: Observe and evaluate; on
- Week 2: Lead with another experienced leader; on
- Week 3: Lead one song on your own; on
- Week 4: Lead the whole worship time on your own (with feedback and evaluation).
Train your leaders to be aware of the kids’ attention and redirect them back when kids are losing interest/engagement. Encourage them to use vocal inflections and variations to keep kids’ attention and keep prayers simple and age-appropriate.
During your worship time, teach kids how and why we worship; talk with them about how worship is a time of connecting with God, responding to Him, and praising and thanking Him. Make sure you don’t water down the kids’ worship. There is no junior Holy Spirit.
When choosing songs, look at the theme and meaning, and determine what the song is about and what it teaches or expresses. Note whether the words are kid friendly. If needed, teach kids the meaning and words of the songs.
Motions and choreography can be fun and helpful, although slow songs can be just as powerful for kids. Choose themes that kids can connect with and understand. Look for songs that help kids engage with your Bible story or theme.
Using tech and media can help kids engage in worship. You can use worship videos, motions and choreography, motion backgrounds. Presentation software can allow you to easily present videos and slides, and lighting can create an atmosphere conducive to impactful worship.
Make room for response in worship.
Worship response is creating space for kids to experience God’s presence, worship Him, and respond to Him. You can include space for worship response in your regular worship time or involve kids in worship response at the end of your service (responding to what the Holy Spirit puts on their hearts during the Bible story).
Responding to God’s Word teaches us more than just the facts—it teaches us about the presence of the Holy Spirit and brings transformation to our faith as we grow in relationship with God and other believers.
Offer a time for worship response in every service, to give kids a chance to respond to what the Holy Spirit is teaching them as they reflect on the Bible story and create expressions of their worship to God individually and together.
Examples of worship response include:
- movements/motions (choreography),
- musical instruments,
- praying aloud,
- call and response,
- listening to Scripture,
- prayer walls,
- breath prayers,
- play dough,
- and more!
Kids can learn to recognize the presence of God and what it’s like to listen and respond to His Spirit.
Including a Blessing and Declaration can allow kids to know who they were created to be and all they have access to in God. Declaration gives kids language and confidence to know their identity in Christ. Blessing declares truth and exhortation over kids.