Most of the time when we talk about worship for kids or youth ministry its most often in the context of practical tips. What songs are hot right now? Where can I get videos for this song? Most recently can I use worship songs that have copyright for our online services during COVID-19? What we fail to ask is why we worship and are we worshiping God in the way he desires to be worshiped.
This question of how we should worship is not new. For centuries the church has referred to this question as “the regulative principle it is simply the assertion that we must worship God in the way that he has revealed himself and the way he has commanded us to worship Him in His word. We need to worship God according to Scripture. Our worship needs to be directed by Scripture. The form and the content of our worship needs to be in accord with the Bible, informed by the Bible, and warranted by the Bible. It needs to be founded in the Scriptures. That is an emphasis that is so important today.” (via RTS.org)
It seems today the questions that we ask in the arena of worship are more around production value than around the Biblical basis for the songs we sing. We need to think deeper about how our songs are forming our kids. We need to think about how our songs are painting a picture of who God is and what he has done.
Yancy, recently released a new worship album aimed at pre-school and early elementary it’s called Ready, Set, Go! It’s fantastic. Yancy’s passion for the local church and for worship is so evident in everything she does. I love that her focus is always faithful over famous. I sat down with Yancy Richmond to talk about three things in kids’ ministry worship that need to change.
Engagement Not Just Aerobics
The first thing that needs to change in kids is we have to engage kids and not just lead them in aerobics. It seems in the last six or seven years that actions in kids ministry worship have gone from something helpful to being almost the totality of the worship experience. We seem to no longer judge our worship by transformed hearts but by how many people are moving at the same time. We are all guilty of this one because it’s easier to measure how many kids are jumping, it’s much more difficult to measure how many hearts are being transformed.
I think it gives kidmin leaders a false sense of participation. To be able to step inside the room and see it bouncing up and down and think “Yeah we are winning at worship.” Motions have a time and place but somewhere along the way, we started to shove motions in every part of every single song that we do instead of when it actually makes sense and when it actually enhances that song.Yancy
We rightly want our kids to engage but what I’ve found is that when kids do dance moves they don’t sing. When kids don’t sing they don’t memorize the words of the song that when written well will be truths from God’s word that will be forever lodged in Kids Hearts. It seems that we have lost the art of teaching our kids to sing a heart song in exchange for Tik Tock.
Lyrics Must Matter more than Music
We like songs because of how they sound. We remember what we sing longer than we remember messages or lessons that are taught. I have taught hundreds of messages to kids and adults over the years. I have listened to thousands of messages preached in my lifetime how many do I remember maybe one or two. I can remember most of the songs we sang in church when I was in elementary school. Music has a power that spoken words don’t have.
I have always been a lyrics person. There have been times in my life where I have needed the vocabulary in certain songs to help me get through what I was going through. There have been times in my life where I have needed the words in a song to help me articulate my faith and my trust in God. They gave me the words to pray and to cry out to God.Yancy
What I remind our kids during our time of song singing is two things. One worship is us proclaiming who God is. Two worship reminds us of who God is. If a song doesn’t proclaim who God is doesn’t remind us of what he is like we should play it at home or on the radio. We shouldn’t sing songs that sound good but the words fail to point us to Christ to reveal who Christ is to us.
We have a massive responsibility as pastors. What songs are shaping the hearts of your people. Your messages will shape them, but they will forget most of what you say. The songs you sing in church they will sing on their death bed. Word for word.
More Scripture Less Pop
Growing up in the ’80s there were lots of Christian bands. I remember listening to a tape of Petra until the tape fell apart. There were no worship bands. Hosanna worship music perhaps but they were not famous and their focus was completely on Sunday mornings. You would never hear their stuff on the radio. It seems that in the past several years Contemporary Christian music and Worship music have collided. All the songs on the radio are now performed by church bands. Which is good in some ways but I think it is also not so good in other ways.
When I sit down to read my Bible I am amazed how many songs will come back to me as I read through the scriptures. I am getting concerned that this isn’t happening with our kids. The songs we sing in church sound way better than they did in the ’70s and the ’80s but they sound less like the Bible. This has to change.
I remember reading a tribute to Dana Key people saying that the words he wrote shaped their theology. I remember thinking…what a responsibility. Most musicians and songwriters are not thinking about it from that perspective of the responsibility that you have that these songs you are writing and creating and what they do to someone else’s spirit.Yancy
I think a better way to say it is with the rise of modern worship and the mixing of CCM. There are some songs that we should rightly be listening to in our cars, but because they have been written by worship bands, we sing them in church. They are both essential. Songs that encourage and express in poetic form what we think about God are good and necessary. I am just not sure that we should sing them as the church gathered.
Our kids need to be challenged to engage in worship. As pastors, we must not simply tell kids what to do. We must bring them to a place we have already been to. We need to be the gatekeepers of the words our kids repeat to music. Lastly, we need to look for songs that have more Bible in them so our kids will hide God’s word in their hearts and will be transformed because of it. Pastor, I beg you to hang up Tik Tock and teach your kids to sing heart songs to Jesus.