I have heard many youth workers say, and I myself have said, “I can’t get my students to sing during worship time”. Singing is certainly a part of worship and one aspect of worship, but singing in and of itself is not worship. Kids sing all kinds of songs but I don’t think students are worshipping God while singing along with Lil’ Wayne or Fall Out Boy. Worship is a condition of the heart released through singing.
Singing, itself, does not evoke worship.There is a human quality to singing. Singing makes people want to join in, especially if everyone knows the song. That’s one of the challenges to youth worship, There isn’t a culture of worship. Kids, for the most part, are not listening to Planetshakers or Hillsong 24/7. They are not listening to Christian radio or watching Christian t.v. (thank God). And even if the did, it may produce better worship savvy students but not necessarily more worshipful students. Yet, when kids come in to our services, we expect them to sing songs they may not know, to a God they may not know, and fulfill our expectations of what a “powerful” worship service is, and we become frustrated when they do not. This kind of cycle goes on weekly in many youth ministries and it’s not fair to our students and it’s not fair to God.
How can we help kids build a culture of worship and bring about an authentic life style of worship?
Start with the family
Family worship has vanished. I am not talking about families singing together, but families connecting with God together. Worship, as a family, can be practiced through reading scripture before bed, before our kids leave for school, listing to worship or worshipful music in the car, having communion together, serving together, and praying together. Are we equipping parents to do this?
Slow the meeting down
Try not rushing worship. Take time between songs to explain the song by reading scripture and offering a prayer, helping kids focus on who God is within this song and what they could be meditation on while they sing. “But Paul, this kills our meeting momentum.” Momentum to what? Our preaching is not producing worshipful kids. If your kids know most of the songs your doing one night, offer photos during the worship time which get kids connecting with the principle of the song, You may show pictures of the cross or Jesus serving if you are singing about the love of God. If we want to help build a culture of worship, we have to start within our own meeting time even if it kills momentum.
Be the lead worshipper
You may not be the lead worship singer, leading songs, but you can be the lead worshipper. Look at your own habits of worship. Be the one who lifts their hands, prays at the altar, sings the loudest (authentically), and get on your knees when you have that moment where you catch a glimpse of who God is, and how He has changed your life. Leading a lifestyle of worship inside and outside of our meetings adds to the culture of what our kids see and see consistently.
Kids singing, and even singing loud, and on key (which is rare, and may mean the Rapture is about to happen) may add value to the youth meeting and add to it’s overall “success” but it still may not be worship. So, what will help kids bring a heart of worship to each service?
Kids who understand and see the grace of God in their own life.
Kids who understand and see the love of God in their own life.
Kids who know and understand the character and nature of who God is.
Kids who understand that their worst sin can be forgiven and what God did to pay for that opportunity.
Kids who remember what God has healed and delivered them from and what He has delivered them to.
Worship is a revelation. Worship leaps from us when we “get it” and “Get Him” Let’s be patient with our kids. Let’s favor the slow build of worshipful students rather than giving into the low bar of getting kids to sing.
If you are looking for a way to lead your kids in worship and don’t have a band or you want to take a break from the typical worship service, I have an idea here.
Tell me about the your kids? Are they worshipful? Do they sing? What is your worship service like? How is your service developing worshipful kids? How are you helping families build worshipful kids?