Hi, I’m Lynne Howard and this is Kirsten Hitchcock. We’re on the Wonder Ink team with David C Cook. We’re so glad to have you joining us today. I’m excited about our topic today because we are talking about something very near and dear to our hearts in children’s ministry.
If you’ve been in children’s ministry any length of time at all, then hopefully you believe that God can speak to kids. Let’s jump in.
Worship Response: Getting Out of the Way
I want to share a personal story that touched me in children’s ministry when I was working in a church just a few years ago. A little girl who was five years old, came up to me one day and she said, “Mrs. Lynne, God whispered in my ear and told me that I’m going to tell the whole world all about Jesus some day.”
She said, “I’m going to go home and start by telling my sister that Jesus loves her, then I’m going to tell everyone in the world about Him.”
And this was a five year old girl. I was crying and she said, “Mrs. Lynne, don’t cry, I’m coming back.”
God can speak to kids, and we just have to get out of the way and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to their hearts. We can model it and we can bring them opportunities for them to hear God, but they have such a pure heart and such childlike faith.
Making room for response in your children’s ministry simply means that we allow the Holy Spirit to speak to kids. He does. He speaks to His kids, and He can reach all of us through the noise, through the distractions, and through all the other voices. We have to listen attentively or we’ll miss it. He’s always speaking to us.
So the first and most important part about making room for response in your children’s ministry is to begin by acknowledging kids are capable of hearing from God and He’s capable of speaking to them.
Yes. And I think something so touching about your story, Lynne, with that little girl, is the fact that she not only heard, but she proclaimed it. She declared it out loud.
And there’s more with that, with that sense of declaring it, there’s something just so powerful about that. I think sometimes we can get lost with what exactly that can look like. So, we’re going to tell you a bit of how we do it in Wonder Ink. But first, what exactly is worship response? So what we mean by that, what we mean about making room for response is really just making space, right?
We need to make space for kids to be able to hear. We need to minimize distractions. How do we do that? Well, we actually build in time. I know that’s crazy. As adults, we’re like, what? My time is so precious, my time is busy, busy, busy.
How do we practice the unforced rhythms of grace in our everyday lives? How do we do that? It’s by making time, right? And I think for kids, we can sometimes get a little hesitant because if you make space, ooh, what’s going to happen? It’s not programmed. It’s like there’s not a plan, but there is a plan. Yes, you made a plan about preparing a place for God to speak.
Worship response can look many different ways.
It’s all about offering a path for kids to encounter God.
And then modeling to them, right? Modeling to them how they can keep coming back to Him and how He continues to speak to them.
Worship response is a section that is included in every single Wonder Ink lesson. We’ve got it in our early childhood lessons, elementary lessons, and we are giving you the tools and the opportunities to build this into your services for your children’s ministry. And it’s different all the time.
Some worship response activities will work better and connect better with certain kids, and some might work better with other kids. And that’s why it’s so awesome to just change it up and have a variety of different methods that you use.
I know for my own son the practicing listening to God and proclaiming and affirming what God is saying to us is something that we do regularly.
One year ago I was driving and it just started just down pouring here in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. It immediately flooded the roads. And I was scared as I was driving home with my children in the car.
My five-year-old son immediately started proclaiming that God had made a promise never to flood the earth again. And that God is always with us and we don’t have to be afraid. He started praying over us from the backseat without any prompting and just started thanking God for getting us home safely and praying for God to give us courage.
When we give kids an opportunity to put their faith in action and to respond to God, and to hear from Him and to have an experience and an encounter with God, kids will do it.
Why do we do our worship response at the end of our service? Because when you hear the Word of God, it should move you to respond in worship to God. It’s an expression of your heart. We do things like types of silence, which sounds so scary in children’s ministry, right?
But giving them brief moments of silence with an intentional thing to ponder and think about. It allows for us to pause for just a moment, holding their body still, keeping their mind still. Kids can journal, whether through writing or drawing.
We do things like breath prayers. We do prayer walks, hands-on prayer stations. I’ve done a prayer station night before in my children’s ministry with different types of prayer stations for families, and the kids loved it. Kids can be so creative with how they respond to God in a way that sometimes grownups aren’t. Our creativity has been stifled by being busy.
In Wonder Ink, we do lots of different types of art and drawing. We can respond in encouragement, music, singing, dancing, spoken words, affirmations, listening to Scripture. There are so many different ways to allow kids to have an opportunity to connect with God and to experience Him in your children’s ministry.
One of the things that has been impactful for us in ministry is declaring God’s truth over our kids.
So today, I was taking my son to preschool. He’s two and a half and he mimics everything I do. We did a declaration because mommy was a little frustrated because we were running late.
So we’re in the car and we’re trying to get there and I just say to him, “Hey, let’s do our Wonder Ink declaration.” And I say, “Thank you, God, that you are good.” And his little two and a half year old squeaky voice said, “Thank you, God, that you are good.” And we repeated these different phrases, “You love me and you know me. I’m your kid.”
It is inviting. And I think what’s so incredible about that is that surpasses your age. There is no age where God doesn’t seek out His people. I truly believe that kids so young hear from God.
And we believe He still speaks. We’ve talked about this before, but it’s all about modeling. How do you give that space? Will you do it together? You do declarations together, you pray together. It’s about being intentional and expressing that. And so that’s why Wonder Ink includes so many questions. We include questions because we want kids to be curious.
We allow space for curiosity, for pondering things, for allowing kids to actually talk. To not talk in order to say the right thing, but to talk and speak, to share what is actually going on in their mind as to usher them in to invite them into what the Holy Spirit is doing.
And we get to let the Holy Spirit do what only He can.
Follow Eli’s Example
In Scripture, I love how Eli helped Samuel recognize God’s voice, because Samuel didn’t recognize it at first. In fact, he went up to Eli three different times and said, “Hey, you called me.” And Eli was like, “No, go back to bed. I didn’t call you.” And then the next time… You called me… No, it wasn’t me. And then Eli said something like, oh, it’s, it’s God. Say to Him, yes, I’m listening.
And that’s what we get to do in children’s ministry. Help children recognize the voice of God in their lives. He’s already talking to them, He’s already moving. His spirit is there, and we’re giving, we’re giving kids the opportunity to connect with Him and teaching them to hear his voice.
We’re not saying this to be like look at the weight of spirituality you have to carry. Instead, we say it as an invitation to prepare, but then let go.
We’ve embarked on this journey of the power of the pause, really the power of silence. And these times of response, so much more happened in those moments than all of the things that I had fully planned. You’ll be surprised at the things that kids hear. Worship response is so important.
Setting the Table for Worship Response
I like to ask, what do you think God looks like? I want to know where are kids coming from and answers to those questions really help. Is God approachable to them? Because what we’re trying to tell them is God wants to speak to them. And it’s not scary. God is a loving, compassionate God. We want them to be able to encounter Him.
And I think that really does come through the openness of asking questions. And being able to hear from one another.
It has to be intentional because it doesn’t just happen in your children’s ministry. In fact, the default is to just keep the kids busy and to get them to do so many different things and, and talk at them and to get them to regurgitate things. And that’s the default. That’s what we naturally do.
But the opportunity for space, curiosity, pausing, responding, and actually experiencing God and connecting with Him is so important. And that is what makes Wonder Ink different from other curriculum.
We know that every child has a different pathway and how they interact with God is different. Sometimes it’s art, sometimes it’s silence, sometimes it’s writing, sometimes it’s active. It’s experiential. And I think we all know that kids, kids really learn through experiences. And so when we build in those pauses, that is an experience they’re going to remember because it’s a rhythm that they’re going to learn.
It’s not our job to lead it. It’s our job to set the table. It’s our job to set the table and invite kids to just come and we firmly declare that we believe that God will do it, that God will move because we’ve already seen Him do it.
Kids can bring their doubts, bring their questions. It’s about surrender to how He wants to move and us giving Him the space to do just that.
More Ideas and Insight for Your Church
You can find more insights and ideas for family engagement in our free guide: What If We’re Failing Kids at Faith Formation? (And How Not To).