A Kids Worship Conversation With Yancy

If you are passionate about kids ministry, you are passionate about kids worship. Kids ministry leaders long to see kids and families worship in Spirit and in Truth. As a veteran children’s ministry leader I have had the privilege to work with Yancy many times. Not only am I struck by her sheer talent and giftedness in writing lyrics and leading kids in worship, but her heart for families and the next generation is such a gift.

We recently had her at our church for a special life group kids worship and a preschool family worship night. I caught up with her to ask her some questions about kids worship. What great insight she provides for all of us that lead kids.

Yancy, you travel the world leading and talking worship. What do you see God doing as you worship alongside kids and families?

Music is such a connecting point for your ministry. It helps make your message stick and walk out of the doors of your church on Sunday to spill over into the car rides home and the living rooms throughout the week. Parents have told me about how songs have helped their child to ask questions that create a faith conversation. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard about a parent connecting with a child over a song that “they both know.” Or a grandparent connecting with their grandchild over a hymn that they can sing together. Family worship nights can be so impactful because the family is getting to make a memory together. They are attending a fun event, spending time together, and it just so happens to be centered around the gospel and a time where they can express their worship together by singing along and getting active together. These experiences really become a special evening that these parents and the kids can point back to for months and years to come. I know as a parent I want to help my children have a blast while serving Jesus. Concerts and worship nights are a fun way I can make that happen for my family. I believe the same is true of your congregation.

There is much debate about where kids should be during worship (with parents or in separate worship). What are your thoughts and what do you see as most effective? 

Simply: Wherever you can experience the biggest win. I’ve always grown up and served in churches that had kids separated. I’m not saying it’s the only way, but it is my experience. If adults aren’t engaged in worship then having the children watch that lack of engagement is not a win. Too often I’ve been somewhere and watch a child be totally unengaged in what was happening while with their parents. Don’t even get me started on them sitting there playing a game on a smart device during service. For me, that is a lost opportunity. I have a burden to help kids see that Jesus is relevant to their life today. We know the Bible says He’s the same “Yesterday, today and forever” yet too often we’re presenting music on Sunday that does not have the same appeal as what they are listening to throughout the week. And when that happens our oldest kids are rolling their eyes, crossing their arms and deciding they don’t like it. That breaks my heart. I don’t believe that’s showing them that Jesus is relevant to their life TODAY and NEXT WEEK and in the years to come as they are a teenager and when they are an adult. We have to start planting those seeds NOW so they understand that truth! I want to make Sunday sound and look more like what fills their Monday-Saturday. Using high quality videos, art, graphics and music is a much needed tool we need to be utilizing in ministry. I believe those things are wonderful points of connection with your kids to help them have fun at church and engage in worship.

What advice do you have for those that lead kids in worship?

Define your vision. What do you want kids to learn about worship at every stage of ministry? Thinking of it as stepping stones building upon another to help kids learn and grow in their worship. Give that to your worship leaders and teachers so all the things they say and do can help reinforce making that vision a reality. Think about what you want to invite them towards.

Stop filling in slots on a planning sheet with songs. Instead, strategically plan your songs to help you take them where you want them to go. Do you need to create excitement and energy? What do you want the kids to experience in worship today? Start programming your songs to help you set up a message time or follow-up a message time by singing about your topic and using music to help move them to action. Music helps your message stick so anytime you can align what you’re talking about and singing about it will be a win as the kids walk out your doors.

Ask questions that demand a response. It’s an easy way to engage your audience right off the bat. Ask questions where they will respond verbally or by having kids take action to do something. Think of it as jumpstarting their engagement.

Please share your heart behind your passion for kids and worship.

The sweetest, most moving sound you’ll ever hear is a group of kids singing with all their heart to the Lord. It’s an instant tear jerker. I truly believe there is power in our worship, but there’s something super special about kids worshipping. Psalm 8:1&2 in the MSG translation says: “God, brilliant Lord, yours is a household name. Nursing infants gurgle choruses about you; toddlers shout the songs That drown out enemy talk, and silence atheist babble.” Every time your doors are open and you push play to engage kids in worship to their Creator you are allowing for that kind of power to be at work in your classrooms and ministries. Sign me up for that! I believe if we can help kids taste and see that God is good, by experiencing His presence as we give them opportunities to worship, they will hunger and thirst for more of Him all the days of their lives.

Your new Heartbeat Curriculum is so spot-on with teaching truth and leading kids in worship. Share with us the story behind this new resource.

It’s something that had been in my heart for a long time. So often I have conversations with leaders sharing their struggles and I realized that in most of those cases the leaders I was talking to weren’t confident in what they needed to teach and share with kids about worship. Creating this curriculum was really about giving them a vocabulary and helping them have some tools to lay out for their kids what worship is about and how to express our praise to God. Each lesson we take a look at David’s life and how He engaged his life in worship to the Lord. God gave David the title “man after God’s own heart.” I believe that is because David learned to worship, period. No matter what, He worshipped and spoke out what He believed was true about God. I want to help this generation of boys and girls to be known as after God’s heart.

What testimonies are you hearing from the Heartbeat Curriculum?

So many good things. I am beyond thankful for the amazing testimonies and reports I’m getting back. People are sharing things that I hoped and prayed as I was creating it would take place. I am so excited that this curriculum is truly a game-changer. Here’s a few short testimonies I’ve received:

“Legit, the best series we have ever done!” -Camille

“I love it!” I wish our whole church was going through it.” -Melanie

“Thank you for your heart, and for allowing God to use you. Our kids are learning something new, telling their parents about it, and our staff is embracing it and stepping out of their comfort zone. Seeing some transformations while these precious kids worship is more than I expected.” -Tracy

“The kids LOVED it. I felt like I learned a ton too about what it means to worship God. The activities are really well thought out and focused on response. Can’t recommend it enough.!” -Shaun

“Wow! Yancy has done some brilliant work on that program! I loved it, the volunteers loved it. The kids were truly engaged, even the big fifth graders. I loved Yancy’s quality video teaching. I loved the Hebrew word that was taught about worship. There is just so much in each lesson. I’m so excited about this.” -Terri

You can get a free sample lesson and learn more at YancyMinistries.com/Heartbeat

As a mom of two boys, how do you continue the teaching at home?

One day at at time and one conversation at a time. It’s definitely about embracing the conversations we can have in the car and the midst of whatever is happening. Looking for those teachable moments. I’ve been doing a devotional with my son Sparrow who just turned 8. We’ve loved “What Every Child Should Know About Prayer” by Nancy Guthrie and the new “Discipleship On the Go” cards by Sarah Blount.  

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Danielle has over 24 years of children’s ministry experience with a passion to share, disciple, and shepherd children and families with the message of Jesus. She currently serves as minister to children at the Dawson Family of Faith in Birmingham, Alabama. Danielle is a respected children’s ministry leader and trainer and has spoken regionally at local churches and nationally at children’s ministry conferences. (CPC, ETCH, KidMin conference). She is a curriculum writer for Sermons4Kids (sermons4kids.com) and has also written for Gospel project kids (gospelproject.com/kids). Danielle currently serves as the children’s ministry content editor at churchleaders.com and teaches in the Children's Ministry Certificate program a beadiscple.com. Danielle was named by Children’s Ministry Magazine as one of the Top 20 children’s ministry leaders to watch. Danielle’s blog, dandibell.com, was named one of the top 100 kids ministry blogs by ministry-to-children.com