When One Teaches, Two Learn

Figuring out children's ministry one day at a time

Guiding Your Children to Successfully Leading Worship

on October 9, 2012

A few weeks ago, I posted about our J.A.M. Time kids leading Sunday morning worship and wanted to write a more extensive post on the subject. We had such an incredible experience – and our church family can certainly attest to that! – that I wanted to share with you some tips on how to have a similar experience with your kids at your church.

Enlist the help of your worship leader.  We have an incredible worship leader who is passionate about involving our children in the church in meaningful ways.  Two weeks before the children led worship, she gave me a copy of the worship set – complete with three songs and two Scripture readings.  The kids have also been learning new songs during J.A.M. Time, so we planned to have the kids present their song after the worship set.  When you are picking songs, keep in mind that it is helpful if the songs are familiar to the kids, upbeat, and are conducive to hand motions.  Also, feel free to include a special song as we did.  It makes things even more special for the kids and their families!

Here is the worship set we used:

  • Psalm 118:19-24
  • “Today is the Day”
  • “Lord I Lift Your Name On High”
  • Galatians 3:26-29
  • “I Am Free”
  • J.A.M. Time Kids’ Special Music: “Living Inside Out”

Inform parents.  Two weeks prior to leading worship, I sent home a note with all of the J.A.M. Time kids letting their parents know what we were planning.  Here is what I wrote:

Though J.A.M. Time only started last week, the kids are already hard at work on their first project.  We will be leading worship and singing one of our new songs, “Living Inside Out,” for the congregation on Sunday, September 30!  We plan to sing during both the 9:00 and 11:30 services on that date.  Though it is by no means required, we would love to have your child participate in both services, if possible.  The worship set will be presented at the beginning of each service.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Pastor Abby or your child’s J.A.M. Time leader.

Divide responsibilities.  I wanted all of the kids to participate in the Scripture readings, but knew that I would delegate the primary reading responsibilities to the upper elementary kids.  I didn’t require the readers to memorize their sections, because I felt that they would be more fluid and confident when they had practiced, but still had a printed copy for reference, but you could go either way depending on your kids’ confidence with reciting memorized passages.  Here is how I divided the two Scripture readings;

Psalm 118:19-24

Child 1:  Open for me the gates of the righteous; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord.  This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteous may enter.  I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation.

Child 2:  The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.  The Lord has done it this very day.

Everyone:  Let us rejoice today and be glad.

Galatians 3:26-29

Pastor Abby:  So, in Christ Jesus,

Everyone:  you are all children of God

Pastor Abby:  through faith.

Child 3:  For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Develop motions for the songs.  I lucked out with having “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High” on the worship set.  The kids already knew motions for that song, so that was no big deal, but I made sure to develop motions for the other songs.  Using motions helps the children to stay engaged, even when they aren’t sure of the words, and I felt that it really enhanced the worship experience, especially during “I Am Free.”  There’s just something about seeing a dozen or so kids free-style dancing as they sing “I am free to dance!”  that just draws you into worship in a completely different way.

Here are the motions I developed for “Today is the Day” and “I Am Free.”

Today is the Day

I’m casting my cares aside (Point right thumb over shoulder)

I’m leaving my past behind (Point left thumb over shoulder)

I’m setting my heart and mind on you, Jesus (Cross arms over chest)

I’m reaching my hand to yours (Raise right arm)

Believing there’s so much more (Raise left arm)

Knowing that all you have in store for me is good – It’s good (Lower arms and hold out  both thumbs up)

 

Today is the day, you have made (Clap and sway)

I will rejoice and be glad in it(Clap and sway)

Today is the day, you have made(Clap and sway)

I will rejoice and be glad in it(Clap and sway)

I won’t worry about tomorrow(Clap and sway)

I’m trusting in what you say, Today is the day (Clap and sway)

 

I’m putting my fears  aside (Point right thumb over shoulder)

I’m leaving my doubts behind (Point left thumb over shoulder)

I’m giving my hopes and dreams to you, Jesus (Lift both hands up)

I’m reaching my hand to yours (Raise right arm)

Believing there’s so much more (Raise left arm)

Knowing that all you have in store for me is good, it’s good (Lower both arms and hold out both thumbs up)

 

I will stand upon your truth (Wave arms from right to left)

All my days I’ll live for you (Wave arms from left to right)

I Am Free

Through You, the blind will see (Place hands over eyes, then remove)

Through You, the mute will sing (Place hands over mouth, then remove)

Through You, the dead will rise (Hang head and arms, then stand straight)

Through You, all hearts will praise (Cross arms over chest)

Through You, the darkness flees (Run in place)

Through You, my heart screams (Arms crossed over chest)

I am free! (Stretch hands above head)

 

I am free to run (Run in place)

I am free to dance (Dance in place)

I am free to live for You (Wave hands over head)

I am free, yes, I am free (Wave hands over head)

Plan your rehearsal.  I planned to rehearse with the kids during the last 20 minutes of the J.A.M. Time hour the Sunday prior.  Our worship leader gave me CDs with recordings of each song on them, so we could have music to practice with.  I also attended our worship team’s rehearsal and made notes as to the order of verses and choruses for each song, so I could give the kids a clear picture of what they would doing.

Create worship service preparation packets.  The first page in the packet should be addressed to the parents.  Parents need to know what is expected of their child and how they can help, if they choose.  It is also important to emphasize that, while we are taking this seriously, this is not something that their children should be stressing about.  The key is to have fun and do their best for Jesus.  Here is the letter I sent, so you can see what I mean:

Dear Parents,

Next Sunday, September 30, 2012, the J.A.M. Time kids will be leading the congregation in worship during the services!  With the guidance, they will give the call to worship, lead singing during the worship set, and present their J.A.M. Time song “Living Inside Out.”  We are so excited to have the kids play such a key role in worship!

We will be singing during both the 9:00 and 11:30 services.  Though it is by no means required, we would love to have your child participate in both services, if possible.  The worship set will take place at the beginning of the service.

This packet contains the scripture readings and worship songs that the kids will present.  I have marked which children are specifically responsible for certain passages; however, the kids will say the bolded sections of each scripture passage all together.  If you could practice reading these passages with your child, I am sure it would enhance their confidence next Sunday.

Please also know that I will be up front cuing the kids with the motions and words, so there is no need for them to panic.  This is meant to be a fun experience!  If they would like to practice the songs, though, I have included the lyrics in this packet.  Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

Blessings,

Pastor Abby

Make sure that you have a packet copied for each child so they can use it as a reference during rehearsal and for practice during the week.

Rehearse!  Could you fly by the seat of your pants?  Sure, but practicing ahead of time can have its benefits.  Rehearsal enhances the kids’ comfort level.  They can figure out where to stand, where the microphones will be, where you will be seated (so they can look to you for cues), and run through the songs.  Rehearsal also gives you the opportunity to convey the importance of the experience.  I spent a few minutes telling the kids that leading worship is a significant responsibility and that the church is trusting them with it; that we will certainly have fun, but they should also try to do their very best.

Pray.  During the week leading up to the kids leading worship, actively pray for them.  Pray that their nerves would be calmed, that they would practice well, or whatever God is laying on your heart.

Encourage the kids.  When you see the kids before the service on Sunday morning, give them high-fives, thumbs up, hugs, words of encouragement… whatever it takes to let them know that you are confident in them.  During the service, smile at the kids and remind them to smile too.  Present the motions enthusiastically and the kids will mirror your enthusiasm.

See God move.  The best part about having the kids lead worship was seeing their honesty and worship with complete abandon.  Their joy will be infectious.  I’ve got goose-bumps just thinking back on that Sunday!  During the second service, I was having a hard time focusing on cuing the kids because I was so struck by the palpable presence of the Holy Spirit.

Our kids will be leading worship again in a few weeks.  I’ll keep you posted!  Also, have you had your children lead worship in the service before?  What did you do similarly or differently?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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