Music is a powerful gift God gave to our children. An ancient theory called the ethos of music is “the power of music to affect mood and emotions.” You experienced this the last time you sat in a movie theatre and were moved to feel compassion, romance, fear, or suspense. Whether you realized it or not, music played a primary role in moving you to those feelings. Even more so, the power of music is a tremendous force in the spiritual growth and development of our children. When children learn songs where music is combined with the truth of God’s Word, music makes truth memorable, applicable, and expressible.
Music Makes Truth Memorable
Do you remember how you learned your ABCs or how you taught your children the ABCs? Was it with the “Alphabet Song?” Generations have known that once information is learned through music, it can be easily recalled and used again at a later time. Do you remember other songs you sang as a child? I cannot say that I remember a specific Sunday school lesson or a sermon my father preached-although they certainly played an important part in my spiritual upbringing-but I do remember the songs I learned, particularly those that were repeated often and integrated into church life and culture. What an opportunity we have to teach children Scripture and biblical concepts through quality music that makes truth memorable.
Music Makes Truth Applicable
We are so proud of the children in our Scripture memory programs who are memorizing lots and lots of Scripture! We know that God’s Word will not return to Him void! However, memorizing Scripture should help children apply that truth to their everyday lives and circumstances. When children simply memorize Scripture for a reward, the result is routine learning. Research has shown that when information is learned by routine, the new knowledge is neither automatically integrated with existing concepts nor does it effortlessly become applicable to one’s personal experience. We need to help children connect their “new” information to their existing knowledge and make meaningful connections and applications to the concepts.
Their connection can be easily made for children in children’s choirs. Quality resources such as LifeWay’s Children’s Music Series provide games and activities that help children understand and apply the texts of the songs they are learning. These games and activities implant truth in their minds more deeply, so the information can be utilized and integrated into their daily experiences. When that truth is further reinforced through the music, we are creating opportunity for the Holy Spirit to use those precepts to help them become relevant in children’s everyday lives.
Music Makes Truth Expressible
Music is the greatest vehicle we have to express the depth of our hearts to God. Psalm 34:2 says, “I will boast in the Lord.” When words fail us and our thoughts are too fleeting, music lifts us to a higher plane more than mere words can adequately express. Music evokes a greater expression of praise, awe, and mystery of God’s presence because it affects our emotions. According to Erik Jensen, author of Teaching with the Brain in Mind, learning is strongly influenced by emotion, and a strong reaction creates a stronger memory of this experience. Thus, the emotions connected with music become tools that reinforce the applications of spiritual concepts.
For the children in your church, what would you choose: the joy of lifting their hearts in song or the frustration of their inability? Should we choose joy for them, we realize that we have only a few years (birth to 9 years) to act on this decision because during this time a child is developing his musical aptitude. Children must have quality music experiences prior to this age because afterwards a child’s perspective of her own voice and musical abilities is established and not likely to be changed. If by this age they have not learned to match pitch, to sing, and to love to sing, then they likely never will. They body of Christ must renew its commitment to teaching children to raise their voices and express their innermost beings to God through music.
And may we have a sense of urgency about this matter! Music is vital to our worship. Worship is vital to a healthy church and to our personal relationships with Christ. Let’s be good stewards of this awesome gift and the command we have been given to “Sing to the Lord!”