By Joyce Samples
Children learn by watching the role models in their lives, but they also learn by participating. Providing a children’s choir in which they can learn, grow, move, and serve in God’s kingdom is an important way to accomplish spiritual growth in each child’s life. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Involving kids in worship ministry early can keep them involved as teenagers, and then continue on into adulthood. A children’s choir can be an invaluable tool to train children up to be lifelong worshippers and can also be a way to bless the congregation.
It is too easy to leave the children out of the service of the Lord in church services. Yes, they can make noise. Yes, they can be distracting to the adults. However, through a children’s choir, they can be made of aware of their actions and behaviors that affect the church. They can learn to work cooperatively with others in ministry. When children are presented the opportunity to minister to the congregation in a church service, they will most often rise to the occasion and take their role seriously (although we are careful that they cannot see themselves on the video screen). Children’s choir provides the stage on which they can be taught to use their God-given talents in the Lord’s service.
Songs learned, especially in childhood, can stay with us for life. Recently our pastor shared that in a staff meeting he brought up a very old song and immediately one of the staff sang every word with him — even though that staff member said she had not sung it for 30 years. Hum the first Sunday school song (or commercial) that comes to mind. See?! Now that tune is stuck in your head! What better thing than to plant God’s Word in song in the children’s minds? This plants the love of God, and it takes root and grows in the soul.
During my years of teaching music at a small Christian school, all my students learned “The Fruit of the Spirit Song.” It is nothing unusual for me to come across one of these now-grown students, 20 to 30 years later, who remind me of that song.
A planned time to teach children hymns, Sunday school songs, scripture songs, and even full musical programs is a testament to a church’s dedication training its children — the next generation. Establishing children’s choir rehearsal does not need to be a complicated process. Even five to ten minutes of class or children’s church time can accomplish so much.
The purpose of music in the church is to lead worship and to usher in the presence of God. When children have the opportunity to participate and lead in this, they learn valuable lessons about being a worshipper and leading others in their own worship practice. The opportunity for children to put their focus on God in the activity of music opens the door to greater understanding of experiencing and sharing God’s love.
Children’s participation in leading worship can be as simple as allowing them to sing a Sunday school song in front of the congregation. I frequently tell our kids choir that they can often minister to adults in ways that no one else can. How many souls might be saved because the small child sang about God’s love? Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.” (Luke 18:15)
Children are an integral part of the Kingdom. We have the responsibility to make a place for them. Allowing the children to minister through music in the church service keeps the church-at-large mindful of the children and their value. It also is another tool to keep church music alive as we meet the necessity of bringing up the next generation in “the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 4:6)
There are so many things that require leadership in the church. We all know that. But is there one person who will take up the mantle of leading the children’s choir? A children’s choir can be done so simply if just one person has the heart. Children can be included in Easter or Christmas productions or join the adult choir periodically in Sunday services. Children singing in church is not Broadway. It won’t be perfect (not many things are), but it can be the start of a thriving music ministry that is a blessing that all ages of the congregation. It can be the simple element that leads someone to Christ.
About the author: Joyce Samples has directed children’s choirs in three different churches over the last thirty years and currently directs the Kids Choir at Christ Church Nashville. She has a Music Education degree from Lee College and a school counseling degree. Joyce taught K-8 music at Radnor Baptist Academy for twenty years and was a school counselor for 10 years. She loves kids and music.