“Out of the mouths of babes and infants thou hast ordained perfect praise”
There are few moments in Children’s Ministry more precious than being a witness to a group of children who have tapped into true worship in the presence of God. He is touching them, healing them and ministering to them in ways that no human being would ever be able to do. He can do more for them in those few minutes, than you could ever hope to do through object lessons, skits, or bible lessons. So how do you lead a group of rambunctious children into the presence of God?
It does not happen overnight and the following principles need to be in place in order for it to be possible.
- Gain an understanding of the importance of Praise and Worship
- Believe that praise and worship is important and will make a difference in the lives of the children.
- Don’t miss the whole point. If you see praise and worship simply as an activity that helps get the wiggles out and takes up time during service then you’ve missed the whole point.
- Gain an understanding of the purpose of Praise and Worship and the vital role it plays in our walk with the Lord in order to effectively lead children in it.
- Take some time to study what the bible says about praise and worship and what part it plays in the life a Christian. (There are many good resources and books available on this subject. One that I would recommend is titled “How to Praise the Lord” by Charles Trombley, © 1976, first published by Fountain Press, Inc.)
- Ask God to teach you and help you find the resources or books that are right for you.
Lead by example
Make praise and worship a way of life. Once you understand the power available through praise and worship you will find yourself lifting praises to God on a daily basis. When you are faced with hard times and tough issues that are beyond your control, It will come natural to “cast your cares on Him for He cares for you” and spend time worshiping Him (which opens up the gates of heaven and gives God access to move in your life), instead of grumbling and complaining (which hinders God from moving and steals your peace and joy)
Be comfortable with being able to freely express your heart to the Lord in front of the children during praise and worship.
(This may mean that you would be willing to dance, shout, or raise your hands as you sing praises to His name or He may prompt you to kneel before Him during a time of worship with the children. If you have not come to a place where you can freely do this in your own private times of worship with God then it will be very hard for you to do in front of a group of children. The more you praise and worship Him in your own quiet time the more comfortable you will become expressing your heart to Him when praising Him with a group of children.)
Tips if you dont have a live band and will be using CD'sMake a master CD of various songs (maybe 8 to 10) you will be singing with the kids every quarter. Get permissioin to make copies of your CD to hand out to kids so that they can listen to the songs at home. When we did this I was amazed by the number of familes that would listen to the CD in the car. If you cant afford to by the DVD's that come with power points of words or video's that inlcude lyrics make your own using microsoft power point. Once you've made them you can use them over and over again. I would pick about 5 songs for each month and rotate them in differnt order so that the kids were familar with them. We never learned more than two new songs a month. when we did learn a new song we'd listen through once with me singing it, then sing it all together, then sing it and learn the motions. It normally took about 3 weeks for kids to become comfortable with a new song. When teaching a new song be prepared for them to stand and watch you the first two weeks without much interaction on their part. If they still dont pick up on it or begin singing with you the song is either boring or too hard for them to learn.
Remember that they are still children
Be balanced in your expectations of them. They are still children and do not have the ability to spend more than 15 to 20 minutes singing songs. Structure your praise and worship to where there are 2 or 3 short praise songs and 1 or 2 worship songs. Make sure the children understand what they are singing and that the songs are simple and easy to remember.
Explain what they are about to do. Take a few minutes each time you are about to enter into praise and worship to teach a little. They need to understand that praise is a time of expressing our joy and thankfulness to God for all He is and all He does.
Let them know it’s much more important to please God. They need to learn that they will miss out on receiving from Him if they are concerned with what others around them may think of their actions.
Help them to understand that Worship is a time to love on God and to let Him love on them. Encourage them to close their eyes during worship time and imagine that they are before His throne. There may be times during worship that you will sense the Lord leading you to be still and wait in His presence. Let the children know there will be a few moments of silence and that God is wanting to speak to them, then give God the freedom to move.
Follow your heart.
Teach the children about the different ways people praised and worshiped God in the bible. Let them know that there are many ways to express our thanksgiving and love towards God, they just need to listen to their heart. Following are a few examples:
TOWDAH- TO SACRIFICE – Psalms 50:23
YADAH- TO LIFT YOUR HANDS- 2 Chronicles 20:19-21
BARAK- TO KNEEL OR BOW – Psalms 95:6
SHABACH- TO SHOUT – Ezra 3:11
ZAMAR- TO PLAY AN INSTRUMENT – Psalms 150/1 Chron. 15:16
HALAL - TO RAVE AND BOAST – Psalms 44:8
TEHILLAH- ALL OF THE ABOVE – Psalm 22:3
(The word for praises in this verse is plural of tehillah. It is in this particular kind of praise that God manifests Himself.)
Most children will not “fake” praise and worship. There will be a few that will imitate you simply because they love you and want to please you. Let them know that their focus needs to be on the Lord and not on others. Encourage them to follow their heart and do whatever it leads them to do. They may feel like jumping during a praise song or raising their hands during a worship song. Give them the freedom to express what they feel in their hearts, without the fear of being laughed at.
There will always be some that resist and others that try to take advantage. There will always be some children that resist entering into praise and worship and others that try to take advantage of the “freedom” given. When this happens have trained volunteers in place to help keep order. Have them very politely remind the child that their focus should be on God and not on playing around, and if they choose not to be a part of praising and worshiping Him then they need to sit down. Never approach a child in a harsh condemning way, always leave room for them to examine their behavior and decide what they would like to do from that point. You may even ask them “Who are you doing this for? Make sure it’s for the Lord.” The Lord will teach you how to discern weather or not they are sincere or just fooling around.
Let God be GodLearn to be sensitive to His promptings and obedient to His leading. When He decides to take over a service and it seems to be going in a direction that is different from your lesson plan, submit to what He wants to do.
Get out of the way. When God begins to “inhabit the praises of His children” let Him have His way. Teach the children to "be still" for a few minutes to allow God to speak to their hearts. There may be times where He will choose to use children to minister, he may give them something to share, or prompt them to pray for someone or something. If you sense this to be true ask the children if anyone has anything the Lord would like them to share or pray about.
Be careful not to rush things when He wants to move. If He is leading you to spend some time in silence, waiting in His presence, don’t be afraid to let the children know that there will be a time of waiting on God, and then be willing to simply wait on Him. It is during these times that He wants to bring healing to the children, love on them, and minister to them.
Don’t not to prolong things when He is finished. Unless you have a specific leading to say or do something, don’t try to add to what God has done. Simply thank Him for what He has done and go on with the service.
Remember that God is a God of order, so although you may not be in control of what He is doing you are still there to help keep order. If you sense that someone is doing something that is not from God, you need to step in and explain that this may not be the right time for that action or behavior.
Never Give Up!
Praise and Worship is one of the most powerful weapons we have as believers and our advisory, the devil, is fully aware of this. (He once held the position of Praise and Worship Leader in heaven.)
Be prepared for a battle when you start to take steps to teach children how to enter into true praise and worship. Stay prayed up and full of the word and be encouraged, the rewards gained will be well worth the “good fight of faith”.
1 Peter 5:8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen
One of your biggest obstacles may be music. Find a way to have a time of praise and worship in your service, even if you have to use tapes that have been pre-recorded with the songs in order of how you want to sing them.
Another obstacle will be when you face times of disappointment and times where you wonder if the children are “getting it”. Stay faithful to what you are doing and remember that if your heart is right God will take care of the rest! God delights in the praises of His people. See it as a journey that you are taking them on. You may never see the end result or influence your efforts will have on the children you teach. Just know that God will honor what you do for Him.