Music is really important to your kids. Talk to a child between eight and twelve years old and listen, without passing judgment, when the subject of music comes up. They’ll easily name their favorite artists, favorite groups, favorite songs. Music connects mind to emotion. It enables joy and expression. Perhaps most importantly, music is one of the major ways we express worship. That’s why it is urgent that we work very hard at knowing the sound our children are listening to and finding ways to incorporate it into what we do during services and other times when we are given the opportunity.
In talking to children’s pastors over the years, almost all of them without exception have expressed that music during their children’s worship services and for other important children’s ministry events is the number one area where improvement and help is needed. So few have been willing to jump in and go all the way for kids, and the safe waters of the shallow end are not a very fun place for kids to hang out past a certain age. As a songwriter, I feel that part of my call is to offer lyrics that express what they’d like to say if they had the words for their emotions and thoughts. It should sound like a kids’ voice, a child’s expressions. Too nebulous or “churchy” and we’ve missed the mark. Beyond that, my goal is to give them a melody and instrumentation that echoes “the sound” of this generation. No style of music is right or wrong; that’s just a preference. So forget what you love and go for what they love.
Set the mood: Before any kids arrive in your kids’ worship space, have music playing that has strong biblical lyrics with a cool sound. That’s not even hard to do these days. The music scene is awash with so much that there’s really no excuse to do anything else. Beyond just music, there are music videos created by Hillsong Kids to the GoFish Guys to Hawk Nelson. Kids are loving Jesus Culture and Rick Pino and Eddie James. Find out by spending time with them if they love Radio Disney or Justin Bieber or Selena Gomez or if they’re into 80s rock! You won’t know if you don’t hang out and listen. Identify the sound and go for it!
So that’s pre-service music and after-service music. What about actual worship times together? Listen, I know you’d like to change what’s wrong TODAY, right now…but it might be that you can at least begin today. If you’re in a place where real value (i.e. actions) isn’t placed on your kids worshipping live together and you feel like you’re limping along, take heart. You’re not in that place alone. And the really good news is you can begin to change their paradigm. Do you have any idea in how many churches the adult worship music service is rocking but the kids worship music service is barely hanging on by a thread? It’s startling how often that is the norm. Let your mind and heart begin to dream again about what could be. Find just one advocate, one person who will pray and dream with you. Plan just one service next month where, if you can’t have an entire live worship band, you can at least have one or two good musicians, perhaps a guitar player and a singer/worship leader. Have a live acoustic service. Just one. Next month. It’s a good place to start. Make that service the most celebrated thing you’ve done in recent history by your planning and attention to detail but more importantly by the prayer that will blanket the entire thing. Or if you’re past that hurdle, let the next step be including real kids in leading. Prepare them, train them, teach them important things like stage skills, and draw them into the place of real worship in small group times. We can’t lead people where we’ve never been.
Go ahead and go hard in the direction of connecting with your kids musically, knowing you can win. If you don’t give up…