Friday, September 30, 2011

What is Real Worship and How Do We Help The Children in Our Churches Understand It?


What is worship? In many churches singing on Sunday morning is what we do for worship; but is this real worship? Certainly there’s Biblical precedent for worshipping God with songs and music focused on Who God/Jesus is. John 4:24 instructs us to worship in spirit and truth – focused on the truth of Who God is. Singing/music is a legitimate and important part of worshipping God, but isn’t the only component of or way to worship God. If worship is more than singing on a Sunday morning how can worship leaders/teachers lead children . . . and adults, into a fuller understanding of worship both in their class and in the church service?

If we’re going to involve children in a fuller experience/understanding of real worship, then we have to know what worship is. Let’s look in the Bible and see what we can learn about worship. I love the account of Abel and Seth – 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, “that was when men began to call on the name of the Lord”. Just a few of the obeyers/worshippers from Seth would include Noah, David, Josiah and ultimately Jesus.

If we want our children to become daily worshippers of God, then first of all they need to see worship as more than just singing songs on Sunday morning. 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!
Ÿ  Worship in class –
o   Allow children to share in their small groups what they did that week to worship God through obedience.
Ÿ  Worship in church –
o   Provide time at the beginning of your church worship service for children to share their experiences of obedience and worship!
Ÿ  Worship in class and church –
o   Allow children who share to also select a song to lead others in worshipping God together!
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!

If we want  the children in our churches to have a fuller understanding of worship they also need to know real worship involves giving of our whole selves. The Book of Leviticus is all about instructing and teaching people how to worship God through their offerings. The offerings were a gift brought to God as an act of worship. Children need to know the offering of our whole selves is a fragrant sacrifice of worship and pleases God – Ephesians 5; I Peter 2. This is a major part of worship; in fact, if we do not give our all to God we can’t worship Him. How can we encourage the children in our church to make daily giving their all to God part of their worship of Him?
Ÿ  Worship in class –
o   Allow time for Small Group Shepherds/teachers to share with the children why they give their all as a volunteer.
o   Talk with children about what they can do each day to give their whole selves in worship to God.
o   As leaders model worship through giving their all, allow them to lead the children in a time of worship through music.
Ÿ  Worship in church –
o   Present volunteers as people who worship God with their all. Along with worshipping with music set aside time each week, every other week or at least once a month to showcase those in your church who give with their whole selves as worship to God!
Ÿ  Worship in class and church –
o   The purpose of the Psalms are for prayer, praise and teaching so allow children/classes to give their all by  volunteering to choose a psalm and lead their class/church in praying it back to God.
o   On the Sunday you focus on worship as the result of giving your all, allow children and their Small Group Shepherds/teachers to lead the musical worship or at least one or two songs.

Finally remember, along with worshiping by obeying, giving our all and music, we worship God by loving others. In Mark 12 Jesus said the most important command of all was to love God with all our heart, soul and strength. He said the second command was to love others as we loved ourselves and this loving of God and others with our all was more important than offerings. We can model real worship of God by loving/serving others. When we elevate loving and serving others as the ultimate act of worship our faith will be real and active and will result in joy and worship with music.
Ÿ  Worship in class –
o   Involve children in quarterly or at least semi-annual service projects and be sure to share these acts of service/worship with their class.
Ÿ  Worship in church –
o   Make the big commitment to presenting a full picture of worship by beginning each week’s music worship with sharing how children showed love/service for others and then allow the music worship to flow!

As the children . . . and adults . . . in our church have the opportunity to experience a fuller, more complete worship they’ll understand worship of God is a real part of their everyday lives!

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