A Biblical Definition of Worship for Kids

This is a guest post by worship leader, songwriter, and author Yancy Wideman Richmond.

I have a dream that one day every church leader will champion worship to happen in the disciples they are making. 

We champion giving, missions, and serving but oftentimes, are less than enthusiastic or passionate about encouraging songs of the redeemed to rise up and be proclaimed. 

The result is that we have a lot of spiritually malnourished Christians in the area of worship. 

You may question that statement saying that “worship” happens in your services. 

You’ve given the minutes and slots of the planning sheet for it. 

But far too often we don’t talk about the why behind the songs we’re singing. 

We aren’t leading people from a place of invitation, inviting them to boldly approach the throne. 

We are checking boxes and providing fluff but far too often those efforts equate to a plate of only Skittles or your favorite dessert. 

We all know that a balanced diet is important when it comes to nourishing our bodies for health and growth. 

The same is true in the spiritual. 

Finding the perfect kids’ song that will make the whole VBS move and twirl to the right two times isn’t the end goal. 

It can serve a purpose. 

It can even be a win. 

But that song is just one type of food. 

It’s one ingredient in a bigger landscape of nutrition. 

The different types of songs we sing, whether they be varying tempos or even the subject matter from praise and celebration to worship and adoration. 

Each one is a needed and necessary ingredient to our offering of praise. 

We need to curate our worship sets with the same care and intentionality that a chef takes when it comes to crafting the meal he prepares.

In the kid’s ministry space, there are a lot of people singing songs of worship. 

The list is much shorter of those who are discipling kids in worship. 

What are you teaching them? 

Hosea 4:6 tells us, “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” 

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What are you teaching kids about worship? 
  • What knowledge and understanding have you provided? 
  • What are the scriptures they can learn from and better understand the why for this time? 
  • Do they comprehend the purpose? 
  • Why does their contribution matter? 

I really believe this is something that is lacking far too often. 

Not only with kids but with students and even adult worship services. 

We model and we go through the motions, but scripture tells us “without vision and knowledge, people perish.” 

I want to help those I lead thrive and grow. 

As I recently made notes, consulting with an organization about this very thing, I wrote down in regards to their worship leader: “It’s more about leading and less about the singing.” 

I think we’ve been holding on to the coattails of singing songs in our services for far too long. 

But are you as invested in truly leading them to worship within those minutes as you are just singing the songs?

Incorporating Teaching About Worship During Worship

Every week as you lead your time of worship be sure to teach something about the “what, why, where, when, and how” of worship. 

Here’s some practical ways to do that:

1. Share Scripture

The Psalms are a great place to start to look for a scripture that instructs action. It’s like finding the verb within the sentence.

So often a passage from Psalms is going to provide instruction on how to participate.

I often will hop on a Bible website and search a couple of keywords from a song we are doing to find a scripture I can share to connect the dots.

2. Give Personal Testimony and Revelation

There are times as I’m preparing God drops something in my spirit that I know I’m supposed to share or say.

I think often it’s for a specific person and even a few.

I certainly have had some light bulb moments over the years where I comprehend a lyric in a song in a greater way.

Those become teaching moments.

I know it helps many from the group connect to what we are doing and why in a greater way.

3. Explain What a Song Is About

Unpacking the message or a glimpse into why it was written.

Look online. Is there a story behind why the songwriter wrote the song?

Many hymns have a great story attached and modern worship songs do too.

Maybe you’re introducing the song and just talking through some of the lyrics of the verse or chorus could make someone connect to the song better than they would if you just sang it.

4. Invite Them to Participate

A game-changing question to ask as a worship leader is: What’s your invitation?

Don’t just do the song or say, “It’s time for us to worship.”

Be specific and invite them into it.

That may be with action.

It could be with a verbal response or a specific action or posture.

But many will not take part in something that they don’t understand.

Your invitation can provide them with the “how” they need to take action.

5. Pray About Where Your Kids Are At Spiritually

Ask God for the wisdom you need on how to lead your group so that every week you are leading them in steps to develop their passion for worshipping the Lord.

I believe He will speak to you and guide your steps.

Be listening!

Teach the Heart of Worship

One of the things we do in HEARTBEAT, a curriculum to teach kids worship, is teach Hebrew words for praise. 

It is something the children have really leaned into and gravitated towards. Why? 

Because it takes something that’s a little abstract at times and makes it concrete. 

The knowledge answers the “how” and “why” questions. 

It takes worship from just being an action to purpose. 

The definition of the word helps us better understand how to do it. 

The understanding will move us from being spectators to participators. 

This is what we desire for those we lead in worship! 

I want to share a few of these Hebrew words for praise with you to build your vocabulary as you prepare to lead kids in worship.

YADAH (yaw-daw)

It means: to worship with extended hands. To hold out the hands. 

It’s an active posture of praise expressed by those who adore God. 

The Hebrew people in the Bible showed their excitement and enthusiasm for God by raising their hands during their praise and worship. 

Their hands shot upward in response. 

When you experience something amazing, you celebrate it. Psalm 86:12

BARAK (baw-rak)

It means, “To kneel. To bless God. To praise, salute and adore.” 

Barak is a word of humility. 

It’s used 289 times just in the book of Psalms alone. 

Maybe you’ve seen someone kneel down before royalty or before a king. 

It’s a way to express honor.

When you praise God with barak, what you focus your eyes on changes. 

Your physical posture changes what your eyes are fixed on. Psalm 95:6

SHABACH (shaw-bakh)

It means to shout! To address in a loud tone. To commend glory and triumph. 

Have you ever noticed in life that what we are truly passionate about, we get excited for? 

And when we’re really excited about something there is usually an outburst. 

(A surprise in the mail, an unexpected trip, cheering on your favorite athlete) Psalm 63:1, 3-4

ZAMAR (zaw-mar) 

It means to make music. To celebrate joyfully in song. To pluck the strings or parts of a musical instrument. 

Zamar is a musical word. 

Giving praise to God is a musical thing. 

There is something special that happens when an instrument is played… when a sound or a rhythm is expressed and when the voice of creation sings to give praise and honor to the Creator of all things. 

God knows that music is a gift because He created it. Psalm 57:7


I do believe we will give an account for how we discipled those we get to lead in worship. 

Now is the time for us to get serious about worship discipleship. 

Let’s keep on running this race together. 

What an honor that we get to be stewards of these lives that we impact through our churches. 

Let’s help kids fall more in love with Jesus one song at a time. 

Written by Yancy

©2023 Yancy Ministries, Inc.

About Yancy

Yancy is a worship leader and songwriter for kids that travels the globe doing family concerts and training worship leaders. Her Dove Award-winning music is all the things kids love and everything adults value. Every week her songs are used in thousands of churches around the world. Her popular worship resources include “Little Praise Party”, “Kidmin Worship” and “Heartbeat Curriculum”. She wrote her first children’s musical for Lillenas Kids: “Best Christmas Song Ever”. Yancy is passionate about worship discipleship, authoring the book “Sweet Sound: The Power of Discipling Kids in Worship”. Her hobbies are fashion and glitter but most of all she really loves Jesus and His Church. She lives with her husband and sons in Nashville, TN.  Please visit YancyMinistries.com/sweetsound.

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