One of the fun aspects of working in Children’s Ministry is integrating my bent toward creative communications with practical ministry tools. As a Children’s Director, my inbox is constantly flooded with “the next best thing” . . . which actually looks and sounds a lot like the previous best thing, which actually wasn’t something that I think would appeal to our kids. All of that has taught me that though it may be a great thing, it’s not the best thing, and that’s okay. Different strokes for different folks, eh?
Our Children’s Ministry curriculum is supplied through a four-year package from a well-known ministry resource company that I’m sure supplies hundreds (if not thousands) of ministries with the tools necessary to make ministry a lot less stressful, more engaging, and easier to manage than what has been used in the past. While I truly appreciate all that the company, and its curriculum creators invest into providing said resources, there are some aspects that are not my idea of the “best” thing for our particular ministry. This shows up mostly in the form of their praise and worship resources. Each quarter of the curriculum comes with its own set of videos and songs to use on that particular set of lessons. Those songs are designed to help reiterate the theme and engage the kids in a meaningful time of praise and worship. However, that hasn’t always been the case for our kids. On more than one occasion, kids in our ministry have noted that the songs are not exciting, the moves are too difficult to follow, and they find it hard to move past the cheese factor on some of the videos. I get it—I really do—I also find myself conflicted in some of those circumstances. After going through a couple of series experiencing a lack of momentum during our worship time, I decided to look outside of our set curriculum. What I found was a fresh take on kid’s praise and worship songs!
Some of my favorite artists to utilize have been AMBER SKY RECORDS and NORTH POINT KIDS, and GATEWAY NEXT. When I swap out songs in the series soundtrack, I usually stick to lyrics videos because they are readily available from those groups, however the motions are not. That poses a new problem, but also opens many new doors for ministry. It is in those moments that I’m able to integrate creative communications with practical ministry tools. In the anticipation of planning the next series, I will review the curriculum-included songs and watch the accompanying motion videos. From then, I’ll decide which ones fit with our ministry style and which ones I don’t think would fit. Then I’ll whittle down the list to see how many songs I need replaced, making sure there is a good balance of both praise and worship tunes. Then, I will preview other songs from various sources and ask myself:
- What is the biblical truth found in this song?
- Is it catchy enough?
- Does it fit with our theme?
- Does it provide too many lagging moments?
- Would it be easy to choreograph and teach?
We also try to include some more traditional favorites to “pass-on” to the kids. Last series, we did THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE and it was so sweet to see the kids singing along to the same song I learned when I was their age. As I finalize the list of songs we’ll include, I buy the ones I need to and make sure that they are all loaded on my phone’s music playlist. I’ll listen to them for a couple of weeks everywhere I go so that I can get them stuck in my head and allow for any creative inspiration to arise. Then, when I’m at home, I’ll shut myself in my room and practice some sample choreography. From there, I decide what works, what doesn’t and what is too repetitive. These moves have to be easy enough for our Pre-K crowd and engaging enough for our Elementary crowd (we do an all-ages worship set in our main meeting space). After settling on moves for the 4 or 5 songs (on average) that need choreography, I steal away to the dining room upstairs in my house where we have a full wall of mirrors. I’ll blast the songs from my headphones and then watch myself in the mirror to see how everything flows and work on transitions. A few weeks before our new series, I’ll create and burn a soundtrack CD/DVD for all of our workers and volunteers to have so that they can get accustomed for the songs we’ll be doing in the next series.
A lot of the assistance I receive in this aspect of ministry comes from our first service teenage volunteers (from our youth group). They show up about an hour and a half before service check-in time begins and they help me do “last looks” to be sure that all of our rooms are set to go for the morning with all supplies needed. Then, we’ll vote on and organize the song set list for that morning, since they help me lead in both services. During that time, I’ll also introduce new songs that I’ve been working on and they’ll start learning those moves, as well as helping me re-choreograph trouble spots and give me honest feedback on how they’re feeling about the flow and moves of each song. They’ll also look at the videos provided by our curriculum and let me know ahead of time if they think those songs are workable, too cheesy, or not engaging enough. We’ll go over the new things we’ve learned and that morning’s set list a few times before we all head upstairs for a quick bite to eat and coffee to sip on. Then, it’s GO time!
This song is called RAISE YOUR HANDS by Amber Sky Records
Kids take to the sides to give themselves ample dancing room and sometimes they ask to join us up front! I love seeing our Westside Kids Crew Leaders joining us onstage and in the crowd, helping kids to not just wake up (gotta love those early Sunday mornings) and start the day with praise & worship, but also to get a head start on the fun times they’ll be having in class that day. It’s great knowing that our team is passionate about being involved with this process. We can already see the foundation it is building in the lives of our kids. During class time, some of the kids will request specific songs from our series soundtrack to play as they work on their crafts. This past Sunday, even after service was over, some kids stayed behind and danced on the stage to another one of our soundtrack songs. I love knowing that we get to join God in helping to guide these kids as they begin to understand the beauty, fun, and freedom that comes through praising and worshiping our King of Kings!
For those involved in ministry who are looking for some fresh new songs/choreography to add to your Sunday mornings, here are a couple of the new songs (not part of our provided curriculum) that we are featuring during this current series, READY, SET, GO!:
This song is called GROW UP by Amber Sky Records and was recorded at our Kid’s Praise & Worship Workshop
This song is called HERE I AM TO WORSHIP by Integrity Music and was recorded at our Kid’s Praise & Worship Workshop
And as a bonus, here’s one I am strongly considering for our next series, SCHOOLED:
This song is called LET YOU KNOW by Amber Sky Records
Again, it’s a couple of months away and it may not make the cut, but I think it’s might be a fun mid-set song. We’ll see! For those on our Kid’s Ministry crew reading this—THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for ALL of the time and energy you put into making each Sunday a truly Fun Day for the little lives entrusted to our care! You rock!