by Yancy Richmond
I’ve been a part of leading worship for every age group in the church. “From birth till death” as I like to call it. I’ve organized and led teams that lead worship effectively for preschool, elementary, preteens, middle school, high school, college, and adult worship. Also, I’ve been a part of some ministries in a very disjointed way where each area did their own thing with little to no connection to the other age groups and ministries. I also was a part of a church that connected all of these areas of worship and built a culture of worship throughout connecting the worship experiences to the different phases of life. I’ve found that it’s amazing what happens when you can unite these different areas to work together and build upon each other for a greater outcome.
What good is it to have great kids worship if your student ministry worship is aimless? Why have great worship for your adults but yet not invest in that area as children and students? Just like we teach kids from an early age to love and serve others, to be obedient and know that Jesus loves them, we can teach them to be the worshipers that God created them to be. Worship is a natural thing in all of us. (The Air I Breathe by Louie Giglio is a great book for defining more on the subject of worship.) A lot of churches struggle in this area from a lack of understanding. It’s amazing what can happen with a little teaching and encouragement on the subject.
Here are some things to help you create a culture of worship in your church:
Define a goal for worship in every class. What do you want a preschooler (Elementary, Preteens, etc.) to know and understand about worship and the songs you sing? For each class or area, define what you want people to know and understand. Consider these building blocks where each builds upon the previous one. I have found defining this was invaluable to the volunteers and teams who were serving. It gave them a goal to work within each week. They knew what they were there to do.
Model worship. It’s not enough to just sing songs each week. You need to model the kind of worship you want to see in your people. Obviously, those on stage need to get involved and be an example to the audience. I like to think of it as a mirror reflection. Do on stage what you want to see happen off stage. Encourage leaders/teachers/ushers in the audience to participate also. Teach them that their involvement matters. Don’t stand in the back or the aisles talking to others or checking your smart phone. Participate and be involved. It will inspire and encourage others to do the same.
Work together. Great worship leaders and musicians need opportunities to grow in their abilities. I would not be who I am today without the opportunities I was given by my church to be a part of many worship teams and bands over the years. One of the things I experienced at the church that connected worship well was that I had worship leaders and musicians that served in multiple areas of the church. Each time they step foot on stage they are increasing their reps on stage, comfort level, and ability to connect and lead well. Many of these young people that served on multiple teams are now full-time Worship Pastors. Don’t look at the different areas of ministry as competition. Realize if you’re doing things to grow and develop the talents of your teams you are helping grow and develop the talents for your whole church. Communication with your Adult Worship Pastor is important. He may have people that need to “grow in their abilities” that could help serve your children’s worship. Communicate between children’s and student ministry as well. As you work together you’ll raise the bar of all of your teams.
Focus on worship. Teach your congregation about worship with a series focused on the subject. A lack of participation comes from a lack of understanding of what worship is and why we do it. You may be in a season where to help those you lead understand it more you focus in for a time doing a sermonette during worship about the subject. Make sure you make time in your services to sing and worship. For instance, I’ve met children’s leaders who say “we don’t do slow songs because our kids don’t know how to respond to them.” Hmmm, how will they ever learn if they never experience them? Don’t take that away but instead build a culture of worship where not only are they given the experience but they understand how to respond and participate in it. Lastly, have worship nights. Yes, ministries that are strategic will have different sounding and looking worship for the different ages they reach, but, there are songs like “10,000 Reasons” or “Oceans” that work WELL with a wide variety of ages. Fill up a special night with those songs where families can worship together. Break up the night and have the different teams that lead worship for your church work together. Do mini sets focused on different age levels, or mix things up throughout the night to allow families to worship together. Bring in a guest worship leader who can lead a wide range of ages to create a special night of worship for families.
Set times to evaluate. Especially in the seasons we want big change it’s easy to get discouraged feeling like the change isn’t happening. Set times to reflect and evaluate how you have seen growth in the past eight weeks or six months. Make a list of what has improved, grown, taken steps. It will help you and those that serve with you to stop and reflect and evaluate what is/isn’t working and what the next step needs to be. And at times what song needs to not be done anymore or go on a hiatus.
I believe worship is an important part of our life as a Christian. We know that David was a man after God’s own heart. I believe that was due to his experience worshiping God at all times. David worshiped even when he needed a refuge, hiding place and strength. He learned to fear the Lord and sing of His greatness. We know that the families we minister to are going to experience life. They are going to have some ups and downs. Wouldn’t it be amazing if they learned in every season to lift up and honor the Lord as they surrender in worship?
Take some time to reflect on your current worship culture. Ask yourself these questions:
- How do you teach the “why” and “how” of worship each week? (Whether that’s reasons we sing, clap, lift our hands, show honor to God, etc.)
- How do you have people model participation?
- How do you get the boys/men in your class to be involved?
- How have you seen growth over the past six months in how your congregation worships?
Yancy is an artist, songwriter and worship leader who has shared the stage with some of the music industry’s brightest stars. Her ability to lead all ages in worship is unparalleled. Yancy currently travels the globe sharing her music and leading worship. When she’s not creating and performing music, you can find Yancy working behind the scenes with AmberSkyRecords.com to give direction to the music and content delivered on this site. She and her husband, Cory, and their son, Sparrow, live in Nashville.