When I was in elementary school in the mid-1960’s, my parents signed me up to be in the kids choir at Beechwood Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. Dr. Hugh McElrath was our music minister and—in addition to teaching us the music—he taught us the love of music.
Although we were just little kids, Dr. McElrath imbued a sense of wonder about notes and intervals and time signatures. We learned a secret clubhouse code that began to unlock a whole world for me and the other kids beside me on the risers.
More than 50 years later, I can still remember the words to our little Christmas song: Now Joseph was a carpenter who lived in Naz’reth town/and from Galilee to Judah with his wife he traveled down/So he bought a little donkey and a blanket of soft wool/the road was long to Beth’lem and the winter nights were cruel.
These days, less and less churches have children’s music programs. If your church does, then that’s terrific! If your church doesn’t, then I would like to offer you eight great reasons to consider starting a kids worship ministry:
1. Kids who get involved are more likely to stay involved. We’re all familiar with the statistics about how young people stop attending church after high school. In large part, it’s because they were going for their parents and their peers and not for themselves. When young people have a meaningful connection to church, they are far more likely to stay involved as they grow up and move out of the house.
2. Learning to read and sing music from the printed page gives children a sense of mastery. It’s far deeper than simply singing along to a track or rapping to a beat. Any opportunity to sing and play music is good, but learning musical theory and technique involves the mind, body and spirit in a unique way. Children know that they know something special.
3. Being part of a creative community is transformative. At the outset, it’s a cacophonous mob. Then the music is passed out, and the director shows them what and when and how to sing. Out of this chaos comes beauty—a beauty that can only happen in the context of community. All the parts work together to become greater than their sum. It’s not just musical, it’s biblical.
4. Singing in a choir reinforces the value of authority. In order to be successful, the singers must adhere to the notes on the page. Likewise, they need to pay attention to every cue of the director and accompanist. As children grow older, their natural inclination is to rebel against authority of any type. Singing in a choir shows them how submitting to authority helps them achieve something that is otherwise impossible.
5. Extensive memorization of words and music stimulates a child’s intellectual development. The National Football League promotes “Play60” to inspire kids to be physically active at least an hour every day. What if teachers and parents launched a comparable “Sing60” initiative to help children develop their intellectual and creative capacity through music? Studies have shown that kids who do music also do better in other areas of school.
6. Performing in public develops a child’s self-esteem and confidence. Fear of speaking in public regularly tops the lists of the most debilitating phobias. The experience of standing on a stage, facing the on-looking gaze of an audience, and successfully performing under pressure goes a long way toward developing confident and competent adults.
7. Memorizing godly lyrics helps children internalize biblical principles that they will carry with them forever. The faith-based songs I learned in elementary school, high school, and college are still imprinted on my spiritual DNA. I’m so blessed that my parents had the foresight to get me involved in music at an early age. This decision not only helped foster a love for music, but also a love for the Lord whose truth and character were proclaimed in the lyrics.
8. A children’s choir gives value to children as worshipers. These days, it’s more and more tempting to leave performing to the professionals. Even adults have bought into “church as a spectator sport.” We could help change this by celebrating the contributions of children leading in worship. We can show them that their voices count—that they count—in the Kingdom.
With more than 200 downloadable kids worship ministry selections in our catalog (including a half dozen musicals and mini-musicals), Discover Worship offers its member churches lots of resources to help launch and develop a children’s choir program. If your church offers kids choir, there’s a good chance that—one day—a lot of grateful adults will fondly remember the impact it had upon their lives!
--Click here for other helpful articles from Discover Worship about building and growing a kids worship ministry.