As you let children lead worship, it will benefit your local children’s ministry efforts in unexpected ways. The adults who make decisions at the church will have a more positive attitude about other things that are going on with the kids. They will be more likely to allocate funds and lend their support and encouragement because they witness something powerful going on. In a smaller church, pastors are often not as hesitant to give children that initial opportunity to lead in worship, and maybe that’s because there’s a common atmosphere that “we’re all family here.” Those opportunities lead to lifelong commitment to worship leadership and accepting the call into full-time ministry. What pastor wouldn’t love to look back in retirement and know that he was part of that?
There are some key elements to keep in mind, though, which keep children’s leadership from having a “show and tell” performance characteristic and move it toward actually getting all ages to focus their hearts and minds on worshipping God.
First of all, monitor the vocabulary you use. Drop the words performance, show, recital, and act from anything you might say to the children when referring to the part they will play in the worship service. It is critical to teach a humble attitude of offering yourself to the Lord, an attitude that is expected of anyone who leads in worship. This attitude has to be the focal point of everything you do with the kids as they prepare. If the children approach what they are doing in the worship service the same as they would their part in a PTA program, then there’s no reason to do it. It might as well be a school play. Their mindset must be to bring God glory, not to get any kind of applause themselves. Waving to parents and bowing for applause have no place, because they don’t fit into the purpose of pointing others to God.
By watching adults, children may get locked into thinking that leading worship means singing. Singing is a great way, but kids can introduce adults to other ways. Individually or in small groups, kids can share memorized passages of scripture, be included on the worship team, share an offertory on the instrument they play, learn sign language to a song, ring bells, be included in a skit, or make a video representing the theme of the service. You might just find the adults swiping a few ideas for themselves.
When you let children lead worship it’s a perfect place to teach children to serve the Lord with excellence. God deserves the best we have to give. He doesn’t ask us to be perfect, but He does ask for our best. We can do that by being totally prepared. As the children work toward the day when they will share in worship, help them understand that if they’re not completely ready, then their part will have to take place at a later time. Our serving should never be half-hearted or make do. It’s not uncommon for children to work for months preparing for one service. What a great example!
If you’re in a small or medium-size church and are wondering what kind of impact children’s ministry could have on your congregation and community, make one of your first steps to find ways let children lead worship. Be ready for a transformation because your church will love it!