by Dick Gruber, D.Min./ April 25, 2022
In Matthew 21, Jesus quoted Psalm 8:2. He is healing people in the temple area when children begin to praise him, crying out, “Hosanna to the son of David.” The chief priests and scribes want Jesus to silence the children. But He reminds them of this verse. He says, “Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger” (Psalm 8:2, NIV).
God has perfected praise in the hearts of children. A child will just as naturally shout, “Praise God,” as he will, “Look there’s a butterfly.” So what is it that deters children from worshiping God in our children’s churches? I propose that there are four factors contributing to the struggle to get kids to worship:
I have watched parents shush their children, calm them, and even stop them from dancing during worship. That’s only in churches where kids worship alongside Mom or Dad. Children who never see their parents in worship miss the opportunity to witness whatever pattern of modeling is being presented. Kids need to experience worship with mom and dad once in a while. Moms and dads need help in knowing how to worship alongside of or in front of their children. A balanced children’s ministry will provide occasional times where multi-generational worship can be experienced. Tell mom and dad to loosen up and perhaps even learn from the children’s modeling.
I’ve heard children’s church workers complain that the kids just don’t want to worship. After hearing this, I’ve watched the same volunteers standing in the back of the room, talking to each other while another leader attempts to draw worship from the crowd of children. If you wish to see the children of your church worship freely, then you need to be in the midst of them worshiping with all of your heart.
Special holidays, new video games, vacations, and the release of new movies will distract children from desiring to worship. I encourage you to plan ahead when there are special days like Christmas, Easter, Halloween, and Independence Day coming up on the calendar. Know that a child headed for a family vacation in Orlando is going to be distracted form worship. Give kids time to process holidays, games, new movies, and vacations in a fellowship time at the beginning of your service. After this you can welcome them into worship. One of the best ways to help a child set distraction aside is to involve that child up front during your worship segment.
Lack of Planning
Unprepared help is perhaps the number one reason children fail to participate in worship. If you fumble and bumble around with the DVD, the transition between songs, or the song choice, kids will disengage. Playing hyper-fast-moving songs as kids enter a room and then expecting them to worship is just poor planning.
Many leaders fail to plan adequate time for children to become involved in worship. Think about your worship experience. It is not uncommon to sing through the first three songs before calming and quieting your mind enough to really think about what you are singing. Plan a little more time for kids to worship in your service.Kids love to enter God’s presence. We witness this every year in our boys and girls camps. Provide children with an atmosphere of worship, model worship alongside of them, and give them more time to relax and participate. Whenever practical, involve kids in leading worship and making worship choices. If kids know they will have time to meet God, they will take all of that time and more. They will come with hearts ready to praise and magnify the Lord.