Preschool worship is full of wiggles, giggles and fun but it can be more than just jumping up and down and spinning in a circle. I thought we could dig in and discuss how to help the preschoolers in your church have a blast singing and praising God.
Music is an amazing tool for you to use in your ministry. Whether you play music, watch sing-along DVDs as kids are getting dropped off in their classes or have special sing-along and worship times during your services, you have much to gain from using this universal language we all have called “music.” I have heard testimonies from parents who have very shy and even withdrawn children that come alive when music plays. Even the youngest of babies react and fine tune their first dance steps when they hear the beat of a fun song.
If you do not read any other part of this article I want you to at least get this in your mind: It is important you realize that preschoolers can worship God. What? You do not believe me? Well, check this out. “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 (MSG Psalm 8:1&2.)” That means that when a two-year old sings “How Great is our God” miracles happen. When a four-year old shouts “Jesus is my best friend, He’s always there for me” the words they sing are taking root in their life and their spiritual development. A few years ago that Bible verse popped out at me and has become my verse for leading worship for any age kid, but especially preschoolers.
I have never heard a sweeter sound than a group of kids singing with all their heart to our amazing God. When they sing the words “I love You” to Jesus, they are soft, pure, sweet and I believe the perfect example to all adults as to what it means to have childlike faith. Even in the youngest class in your children’s ministry you need to have a worship time. There is no rule to how many songs you do or how many minutes you should spend, but every week give your preschoolers a chance to sing praises to Jesus. I have found that defining for each age group or class what you want them to learn and experience pertaining to worship gives everyone a clear goal. Once you define this for your ministry you can pass the vision along to the leaders, volunteers and teachers so they can make sure every week they are doing something to help make that goal come to pass. I defined what I wanted to teach preschoolers about worship as “we sing to Jesus because we love Him.” Young children understand the word love. They hear it from mom and dad, grandma and grandpa; they even say “I love you” back to those special people in their life. Our singing to Jesus is a way we show Him we love Him. Preschoolers can understand that.
Sure, preschoolers may not stand up, close their eyes, lift both their hands and sing every word to a slow worship song but do not let that keep you from giving them the opportunity. I have found that doing a slower song right after something upbeat is a great way to keep them interested. I have also had the kids sit down to sing a slow song which can provide less distractions. Encouraging them to sing out by giving them vocal cues like “Sing it again” or “Sing it louder” or “Sing it even louder” is great for a song that is repetitive. Saying a simple prayer at the end of a song and having the kids repeat after you works really well too.
The biggest factor in choosing your songs wisely for this age group is paying attention to the length of the song. Try to stick to two-minute songs whenever possible. Sometimes it has to be closer to three minutes because of the repetition or tempo of certain songs and that is alright. Just let it be the exception and not the norm. Another thing I learned from Mary Rice Hopkins is to be mindful of song lyrics; try to do songs with age-appropriate vocabulary. That way they know and understand what they are singing about. For example, a young child might not be able to grasp Jesus is their Savior but they can understand that Jesus is their best friend. A few of my favorite slow tempo worship songs to sing with preschoolers are: God Is So Good, Oh He Loves Me and How Great Is Our God. I promise when you hear your kids singing out strong you just might tear up. I know I have multiple times!
Use a fun, interactive and engaging song to start off your class or get the wiggles out before the lesson or story time. Kids love to have fun. They bounce around, jump up and down and dance all day until Mom tells them it is time for bed. By having songs that are fun and filled with happiness, kids get to be their young and energetic selfves. Letting them be involved with a big movement is a great way to engage them. It helps them to be focused on what you are doing especially if you are immediately transitioning into an important learning time. Songs that would qualify for this situation would be: Father Abraham, Yabba Dabba or I Like To.
You can use music to reinforce your lesson or Bible Story by finding a song that puts the story or basic truth to music. The child might not give Mom and Dad a strong answer when they ask “what did you learn in class today?” but often times they will sing a song they learned in class. Songs that fit this category would be: Mr. Noah Had an Ark, Two By Two,R To The B or Creation Musical.
Using fun, upbeat praise songs is a great way to not only give kids a chance to sing and praise God but to get some of the wiggles out. It can be a great way to break up teaching times in your class by giving them a chance to make some noise, clap their hands and spin around. Here are some favorites of kids, parents and teachers: My Best Friend,Hosanna Rock, If You’re Happy and You Know It, The B-I-B-L-E and so many others!
Here are a few things to remember as you lead preschoolers in worship.
- Choose songs that fit their vocabulary.
- Keep song-length in mind and the kids’ attention spans.
- Be energetic and exciting. (Put a smile on your face.)
- Wear bright colors. (They are much more exciting then grey, brown and black and scream happiness.)
- Use inflections and intensity in your voice to lead. (If you want them to be excited and loud then you be excited and loud. If you want to be more worshipful and soft then soften your voice and lead them by how you say what you say.)
- Watch preschool TV shows that include music. (What lessons are learned by watching even non-Christian shows your kids love? Ask some parents what their kids favorites are? What type of songs do they do on those shows? How do the people speak to the kids? What kind of movements and dances do they do to the songs? There is so much to learn from. Watch with a note pad and write down anything that sticks out at you that you could apply at church to your preschool class.)
- Give kids an opportunity to worship! Do not wait till they are in the elementary classes to start valuing giving them the opportunity to worship. Start when they are young and when they are old they will not depart. (Proverbs 22:6.)
Leading kids in worship is easy. Sometimes I hear about leaders being intimidated by kids. Which is definitely an unnecessary stress and worry in your life. It is naturally in us to worship. Kids understand this better than adults. God created us to worship Him. You have an amazing opportunity to create fun, relevant atmospheres where kids can experience who God is, how much He loves them and respond to that. Worship is one of the ways we get to respond to God’s amazing love to us is with our gift of worship. When you lead kids remember you are an example to them. Model worship and invite your preschoolers to join you in the party that is bringing praise to God. I am cheering you on!
Songs mentioned in this article can be found on “Little Praise Party atwww.yancynotnancy.com or at www.amberskyrecords.com.
Yancy has the distinctive skill to lead all ages in worship. She travels the globe sharing her music focused on families and preteens in addition to leading worship and training worship leaders. Yancy and her husband live in Nashville, TN. Missed Yancy’s Breakouts at Orlando CPC? You can download MP3s of Yancy, or any other speaker’s breakout atwww.incm.org/store
Written by Yancy
©2010 Yancy Ministries, Inc.