Teaching Kids the True Meaning of Worship

Lynda Freeman —  September 26, 2011

imageOn a typical Sunday morning in churches around the world, we spend time in “worship” . . . which typically is translated as singing. I completely agree we are able to worship God with our singing, but is this the only, or even the main, way we worship God? What if there is more to worship than singing? What “view” of worshipping God do we give the children . . . and adults . . . in our ministries if we just refer to singing as “worshipping” God, but do not give the bigger, fuller view of worship as we find it in the Bible?

I think it is so easy for children . . . and adults . . . to get the mistaken impression that worship is what we do at church when we sing, and not realize worship is what we do everywhere, every day with our whole lives. If we want children . . . and adults . . . to have a fuller understanding of real worship, they need to understand what worship is by looking at examples God has given us in His Word of people who were real worshippers.

God’s Word teaches obedience is a key part of worship. Let’s look in the Bible to see what examples we can find of obeyers who were worshippers of God. Consider the following . . .

I love the account of Abel and Seth in Genesis 4 – not Bible people who you would initially think of as having much to teach us about worship? Oh, but they do! The reason Abel’s offering pleased God and was an act of worship is because it was an act of obedience. Cain didn’t worship as God wanted him to; he disobeyed and disobedience resulted in a life filled with anger. When we obey God, as Abel did, then worship becomes the result of our obedience. As we know, Cain killed Able and God gave Adam and Eve another son, Seth. Seth and his sons obeyed God and Genesis 4 ends by telling us this “was when men began to call on the name of the Lord”.

Don’t forget Noah. Noah worshipped God because he was serious about obeying God . . . obedience is essential for real worship. Genesis 6 tells us,

5 The Lord saw how bad the sins of man had become on the earth. All of the thoughts in his heart were always directed only toward what was evil. 6 The Lord was very sad that he had made man on the earth. His heart was filled with pain.” [Genesis 6:5-6, NIrV]

Man didn’t want to obey God and this disobedience filled God’s heart with pain. What an incredible sentence. Genesis 6 goes on to say in verse 8,

“But the Lord was pleased with Noah.” [Genesis 6:8, NIrV]

And in verse 9 we see,

“Noah was a godly man. He was without blame among the people of his time. He walked with God.” [Genesis 6:9, NIrV]

Noah walked with God . . . he made the choice to obey, as we see in Genesis 6 – 9. Imagine being asked to build a big boat, far from water because it was going to rain . . . something it had never done before. Noah is a great example of someone who obeyed. He is a great example of someone who worshipped God!

These are just two examples we find in the first six chapters of the first book of the Bible. Continue reading and you’ll learn of other obeying worshippers such as Joshua, Caleb, David, Josiah and of course ultimately, Jesus!

Help your children understand daily obedience is a major part of daily worship because without obedience they can’t worship God. I’ve long been a huge “fan” of providing specific ideas for children to take what they learned out the doors of the church to live in their everyday lives. The first step to making worship a part of children’s everyday lives is to celebrate acts of obedience! Consider the following . . .

  • Worship in class
    • Allow children to share in their small groups what they did in the previous week to worship God through obedience.
  • Worship in church
    • Provide time at the beginning of your church worship service for children to share their experiences of obedience and worship!
  • Worship in class and church
    • Allow children who share to also select a song to lead others in worshipping God together by singing songs to God!

As children understand how obedience is lived in their everyday lives they’ll see worship as the natural outflow of obedience and a major part of their everyday lives!

Next week I’ll look at how real worship involves giving of our whole selves!

Lynda Freeman

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Lynda has been married to Dave for 30 years . . . they met on a volcano in Northern California! Lynda took one look at Dave and thought, “We will get married!” And so they did! They have two grown children, Tiffany (26) and Dave (25), a daughter-in-law, Jackie (26) and two grandsons; Josiah (3) and the newly arrived Caleb – they are the delight of her life! Lynda lives in West Michigan and has served in children’s ministry for 40 years . . . she started with a Wednesday night class for four year olds when she was 10 . . . and has led ministries in churches with 100 people, 1600 people and several in-between. Children’s ministry is the passion of Lynda’s heart – she wants volunteers to love serving and children to love being there so they can learn to know and walk with Jesus all their lives! Lynda worked as a consultant for Gospel Light, Group and Zonderkidz/Big Idea/Willow Creek and worked as the Church Resource Consultant for Kregel Bookstores for 13 years providing training and answering questions for churches throughout West Michigan. She has written for Children’s Ministry Magazine and Your Church Magazine, wrote some of the preschool lessons for Big Idea’s VeggieConnections curriculum, was a contributing author for Group’s Humongous Book of Bible Skits for Children’s Ministry and wrote the Connections to Christ portion of the Manners that Matter curriculum from Maralee McKee. Eight years ago Lynda was diagnosed with MS, Lupus and a few other auto-immune illnesses and can no longer work “hands-on” with children . . . the stairs at her church are best avoided. However, Lynda consults with and advises her church and writes their curriculum, kidz Connection. She also writes a blog – About the Children’s Department - and is developing a series of children’s books and a resource on praying the Scripture! For fun, Lynda writes a blog for grandmas- grandma’s cookie jar (www.grandmascookiejar.net ) . . . well, grandpas, moms and dads are welcome to read it, too! You will find her on Twitter, Facebook and CM Connect .

5 responses to Teaching Kids the True Meaning of Worship

  1. I really like the idea of letting kids pick songs sometimes. I think it gives them a sense of ownership that most adults won’t let them have because they’re kids.

  2. So many people in today’s church just go through the motions, they go to church’s where the music is good in their opinion. they go to where they feel comfortable, you see without knowing God’s love and grace, worship is meaningless. Thank you Lord for your grace , we honor you with our feeble attempt at worship and may you be glorified in everything!
    Thanks for the post, our little ones need HIM!

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