As restrictions start to be lifted, and churches start to gather back together again in their buildings, Fiona Stutton, Thrive’s Children’s Ministry Adviser, considers how we might best enable children to help lead in our gathered worship times.

I have heard testimonies and seen for myself many stories of children being involved in the services, from them doing readings, prayers, introducing craft items, singing, sharing the memory verse and more.  It’s been great to see them involved, but I have two questions that spring to mind… Will involvement from the children continue when we go back to “the new normal”? And how does the church view children taking part?  Do they see it as giving the children something to do to feel included or do they recognise that God is using our children to share His word with them?

If my Mum wants to know something about technology, eg. to get the internet on her tv, she will phone up her grandson to ask him what to do.  I know that many people will agree, our children can educate us so well when it comes to technology.  I wonder how many times we ask our children to teach us and share with us about God?

Matthew 21:15-16 says, “The chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did. They also saw the children in the temple courtyard shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” But when they saw all this, they became angry.  “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus. “Haven’t you ever read about it in Scripture? It says,“ ‘Lord, you have made sure that children and infants praise you.’ ”

I believe that not only can we learn from our children about God,  God can use them and their amazing gifts to lead us in worship to glorify God.

Here are five ways that may help us in encouraging our children to lead in worship.

1.Help children to recognise their giftings

Be on the lookout for what children talk about, what their passions are and the interest they take in various aspects of your sessions.  For example, one time I was leading a children’s group when one little girl, that wasn’t involved in church in any other way apart from occasionally coming to church on a Sunday morning, quietly mentioned that she had been singing in her school choir.  Until then, I had no idea.  I made a mental note and when it came to one of our Christmas All Age Services, I asked her if she would like to sing a solo.  She was delighted and came to the service with not just her parents, but her grandparents too.  This continued with her joining our worship group each month and singing with them in our monthly All Age Services.  Seek to recognise their gifts and find opportunities for them to flourish.

2.Equipping your children

Once we know their giftings, we need to be equipping them to build confidence in their area of ministry and encouragement in stepping out of their comfort zone and using their gifts in leading worship.  It’s useful to find adults involved in various aspects of the worship team who would be willing to welcome, mentor and teach children as they serve with them.

3.Understand that God can speak to us when children share

One church leader was running a service on zoom when they asked the congregation, ‘where have you seen the Lord at work?’  The first person to put up their hand was not an adult but a young child.  They responded with “God’s been really helping me get through the week and getting stuff to do when I’ve got nothing to do.”  What a lovely testimony and how awesome to hear how she had seen God helping her and that in turn could have been just what someone else needed to hear, to realise how God had been with them during that week also.  God can and does use children to speak to adults and we must allow opportunities for them to share their testimonies and lead us in worship.

4.Recognise that children are leading us in worship not performing

It’s very common after a child shares in church for adults to say something to other adults like, ‘wasn’t it lovely to hear {insert name here!}  take part this morning?’ The fact is we are not including children in the service, just so they can feel involved, which of course is a good reason, but ultimately we want our children taking part to lead, to serve and to witness to others.

5.Encourage our children as they lead us in worship

Children can have a profound impact on us, but what do we do about it?  How many of us will go and encourage the child, ask them more about it or share with them how what they said has had an impact?  If we talk to our children in this way, it helps them to realise how God is using them and ultimately encourages them in their journey with God.

As we look to slowly move out of lockdown and back to ‘the new normal’ what will our church services look like?  Will we still be intentional about including our children in worship?  Take this opportunity to look at how your children have become involved and how we can build on this in the future.  If this is not something your church has done before, do not let this hold you back.  May I encourage you to pray into this and seek God for the right opportunities.  Work with your children to equip, support and encourage them as they step out in faith.