A Simple Strategy to Manage Your Kidmin Music Library

childrens-ministry-musicIf you are anything like me, you have a lot of songs and videos of kidmin music! It’s hard to remember all the songs and it is even more difficult to remember what type of songs you have. In order to help you choose a good balance of songs for Sunday morning worship, put all your songs into categories. Categories are helpful because they give us a way of organizing music that help us create balanced sets for worship times.

Here are the song categories I use. The first three categories are for specific kinds of songs – Christmas, Bible verse, Hymns. The next five categories are more related to the style of song – pace or theme. You might want to use something similar or add to it for your own situation:

Christmas

This category is for all songs that relate to advent and Christmas. We tend to only sing Christmas songs at Christmas, so it’s helpful to put them together.

Some examples of songs that would be in this category include:

  • Angels We Have Heard on High
  • He Made a Way in a Manger
  • Joy to the World

Bible Verse

These are Scripture songs; Bible verses put to music. These songs may fit any of the next 5 categories but I find it helpful to put them together.

Some examples of songs that would be in this category include:

  • Wherever You Go – Joshua 1:9
  • Eternal Life – John 3:16
  • Life and Breath – Acts 17:34-35

Hymn

These are hymns or any song found in a hymn book.

  • Standing on the Promises of God
  • Holy, Holy, Holy
  • This is My Father’s World

Fun

These songs are usually high-energy songs with lots of actions. Kids love to sing these songs because it’s an opportunity to maybe be a little silly and to get some wiggles out.

Some examples of songs that would be in this category include:

  • Boom-Chaka-Laka (Overflowing)
  • Every Move I Make
  • Superstart

Active

These songs are usually high-energy songs that are accompanied by clapping or actions. The difference between fun songs and active songs is the content. Fun songs can be silly whereas active songs are more serious in their content. They are about who God is or they are songs of praise.

Some examples of songs that would be in this category include:

  • Almighty Creator
  • Friend of God
  • My Redeemer Lives

Bridge

These songs are not as fast or high-energy as active songs and are used as a bridge to slower, more worshipful songs.

Some examples of songs that would be in this category include:

  • All the Earth
  • Blessed Be Your Name
  • God is Great

Worship

These songs tend to focus on who God is. God is holy. God is great. These songs are generally mid-tempo or slow. Songs that are full of this content yet are fast paced are probably better in the active category.

Some examples of songs that would be in this category include:

  • Here I am to Worship
  • Amazing Love
  • You’re Worthy of My Praise

Commitment

These are songs that speak of our commitment to obey Jesus and to follow Him. These songs talk about what we will do. They are our response to God and have messages like: “Thank you;” “I will serve you;” and “I will follow you.”

Some examples of songs that would be in this category include:

  • Make Me Wise – SovereignGraceKids
  • Holiness (Take My Life)
  • I Give You My Heart

Now that you have categorized your songs, it is easier to put together a set of songs for your Sunday morning worship time.

How do you evaluate the music you use for worship with kids? These 6 questions will help.

What’s your goal when leading kids in singing? Stir reverence and evoke worship.

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6 Questions to Ask When Choosing Songs for Worship with Kids

Worship God SignWhen I was young, there wasn’t a lot of choice when it came to music to sing with kids at church. Recently there has been an explosion of music for kids. And it is easier than ever to find the format that works for you – music, video, lead sheets. There is so much to choose from that it is now more important than ever to be discerning. Evaluate each song carefully before you sing it with kids.

The purpose of singing with kids at church is to teach kids about worship, tell them truths about who God is, and give them opportunities to respond in worship to God. Therefore, songs should be chosen either to express truth about God or as worshipful response to God.

Here are some questions to consider when choosing songs to sing in this setting:

What is the value of singing this song with kids?

Does this song highlight God’s character? Does it magnify Jesus? Does it teach a truth about God, Jesus, or living as a Christian? Is it a fun song with little or no spiritual value?

For example, the song Lord, I Lift Your Name on High is a joyful song of praise. It is simple and easy for kids to sing. The chorus highlights the gospel, thereby focusing on Jesus and giving kids the reason we praise God.

What does this song teach about God or Jesus?

This is an easy question to answer. Look carefully at the lyrics to the song and note what, if anything, the song teaches or highlights about God or Jesus. The song could focus on God’s holiness or Jesus as our mighty Savior.

What does this song teach about living as a Christ-follower?

Songs like this are usually songs of commitment or encouragement. These songs highlight our dependence on God, becoming like Jesus, showing love, patience, and kindness.

How much of this song needs to be explained to kids?

This is a very important question to answer. Some explanation is okay (as long as you actually talk about the song with kids and explain any concepts or words that the kids might not understand). If a song requires too much explanation then it is probably not appropriate to sing with kids. Some songs are written in a highly symbolic, figurative or complex way that younger kids especially simply won’t understand. You want to choose songs for kids that are written simply, literally, and clearly.

For example, Before the Throne of God Above is a song that is about the relationship we have with God because of what Jesus did on the cross. It is a wonderful song full of truth that leads believers to worship. However, it is full of words like “plea,” “graven,” “thence,” “depart,” “counted free,” and “pardon.” It also uses phrases like “before the throne of God above” and “a great High Priest whose name is love who ever lives and pleads for me,” which are harder for kids to understand because of the structure of the phrase.

A better song to sing with kids that focuses on the relationship we can have with God because of Jesus is Mighty, Mighty Savior (from SovereignGraceKids). This song is sung in a progressive order that kids understand. It still has a couple words and phrases that will need to be explained, but in general the song is one that kids will understand.

Is the theology of this song correct in all aspects?

This is really important. We remember what we sing. Kids will develop a theology of God from the songs they sing so it’s really important to make sure that the songs are true. Even if one line of the song is wrong, the song shouldn’t be used.

Is it appropriate for this setting?

Finally consider whether the song is appropriate for the setting of worship time during Sunday School or Children’s Church. Also consider the length of time you will give to worship during these programs. This will help you decide if a song is appropriate or not. For example, some songs are fun but don’t have a lot of real value other than drawing kids in and getting their attention. If you have a short time, you may want to stay away from these songs.

Once you have gone through this process you will have a well-thought out list of songs to sing with kids.

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One Way Sunday School Teachers Can Encourage Active Participation in Class

Kindergarten teacher and children with hands raised in libraryIt is well known that kids learn best when they are actively participating in class. One way teachers can encourage active participation is by asking good questions. Good questions give kids the opportunity to think and respond and discuss.

Teachers should respond to the answers students give in a way that will encourage active participation.

What are the most common types of answers kids give and how should teachers respond to them?

Silly Answers

Expect silly answers to questions and plan ahead of time how you will respond in a way that encourages further answers and discussion.

It is best to simply ignore silly answers. Say thank you and then turn to a student and rephrase the question you just asked.

Incorrect Answers

We learn from our mistakes, from being wrong. So, if a student gives an incorrect answer it is a great opportunity for learning for the whole group. You will want to do two things – tactfully correct the wrong answer and come up with an encouragement for the student to correct wrong thinking.

Don’t put-down or embarrass the student. This only makes students less likely to speak up and participate. Instead, point out where they went wrong in their answer and then provide hints, suggestions, or follow-up questions that will help your students understand and correct their answers. “Not quite, but what if…” “Let’s all look at verse 11 again.”

Correct Answers

When students give correct answers, you want to reinforce the answer and encourage the discussion to continue. Students need to learn how to have a discussion in class. One thing that can easily happen is for students to stop participating because a question was answered correctly. As the teacher you need to encourage your class to keep the discussion going even after a correct answer.

So, reinforce the correct answer by paraphrasing it or summarizing it and then ask the kids to provide another example to support or contradict the point just given. This encourages discussion to continue. Direct your students to respond to one another. “What do you think about the idea Emma just gave.” “Can you think of another way to solve that problem?” “Can you think of a Bible verse that talks about that?”

On-the-Right Track Answers

Sometimes, kids will give answers that are on-the-right track, but not quite there yet. They are specific but are just missing a piece. When this happens ask the responder to refine a statement or idea. “Is that response to the situation always the right one?” “Can you think of a Bible story or verse that talks about this situation?”

You want to respond in such a way that encourages students to keep thinking. Ask the rest of the class to respond to the idea that one kid just presented or ask the student who answered to explain the thinking that led to her answer.

Vague Answers

When students give vague answers they may be parroting back something they have heard or giving generalizations of what they have heard in class. Vague answers demonstrate a lack of understanding.

When students give vague answers you want to respond with clear instruction and questions that will help them clarify their thinking.

If an answer is too general, try to draw out specifics. “That’s a good observation, Leona. Can you give me another example of mercy?

Ask the student to clarify a vague comment. “Can you explain what you mean?”

If the kids are parroting answers encourage them to explain or define in their own words. Then you can get a better understanding of what they know and what you need to teach.

No Answers

Sometimes you will get no answers when you ask a question. First, allow for silence. A lot of teachers are afraid of silence, but silence is a good thing. Silence allows students to think before they answer and to put their thoughts together so that what they say makes sense when they do answer. After a minute or so, ask the question again. If there are still no answers you may need to rephrase the question. Maybe the kids didn’t understand it. If there are still no answers, you can answer the question yourself or choose to come back to the question later.

Another idea is to have kids write their answers on an index card. This allows them some time to think and encourages everyone to respond. You can choose to have the kids give their index cards to the person next to them, read them out loud themselves, or hand them in to you.

 

Encourage active participation in your Sunday School class! Ask good questions and respond to the answers students give in such a way as to encourage thinking, learning, and participation.

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Recommended Resource – Basic Bible Skills by Susan L. Lingo

Looking for game and activity ideas for teaching Bible skills? Check out Susan L. Lingo’s “Basic Bible Skills.”

childrens-ministry-basic-bible-skills-bookThis book has game and activity ideas for children ages 6-12.

I love the set up of this book. First, it contains books of the Bible cards that you can photocopy onto cardstock. These cards are unique in that they have the name of the book, which testament it’s in, which division it’s in, a sample of what’s in the book, and a key verse.

Second, it contains four sections.

  1. How the Bible is Organized
  2. Scripture is God’s Word
  3. People, Places, and Events
  4. Bible Maps and More!

What I love about this resource is the inclusion of many different Bible skills – not just books of the Bible. Some of the skills included are:

  • Using the Bible’s table of contents
  • Understanding what a “Testament” is
  • Identifying major Bible divisions
  • Identifying chapter and verse numbers
  • Learning visual cues for remembering verses
  • Studying parallel passages
  • Identifying main themes and ideas
  • Using a Bible dictionary
  • Reading Biblical maps
  • Using time lines

Check it out on Amazon!

Have fun with your class learning Bible skills for exploring God’s Word!

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Teach Kids to be Bible Detectives!

I think one of the greatest skills you can teach your class is to study the Bible themselves.

One fun way to teach kids how to study their Bibles is to teach them how to be Bible detectives!

childrens-ministry-bible-detective

Great detectives ask lots of questions and observe carefully. Great Bible detectives ask lots of questions and observe the passage they are studying carefully for clues.

In order to know what types of questions to ask, Bible detectives have to first observe the passage being studied. Is it a narrative or story? Is it teaching like one of the epistles in the New Testament? Is it poetry or wisdom literature?

If the passage is a story, Bible detectives will ask questions like:

  • Who are the characters?
  • What is the conflict? What are they doing?
  • When does this story take place?
  • Where does this story take place?
  • Why did they character do what they did? React the way they did?
  • How does the conflict resolve?

If the passage is teaching, Bible detectives will ask questions like:

  • Who wrote this passage? Who did they write it to?
  • What is the topic of the passage? What is the argument?
  • When did the author write this?
  • Where was it written?
  • Why did the author write it?
  • How does this passage apply to my life?

If the passage is poetry or wisdom literature, Bible detectives will ask questions like:

  • Who wrote this passage? Who did they write it for?
  • What genre is this passage?
  • When and where is the context for this passage? (ex. Psalm 51 was written after King David sinned )
  • Why did the author write it?
  • How does the style (or genre) inform our understanding? How does this passage apply to my life?

Who

This category of questions is all about people. Who are the people in the story? Some good follow-up questions would be, “What is said about the person or people in this passage?” and “What does the person say?”

  • Who is speaking?
  • Who was there?
  • Who is it about?
  • Who are the main characters?
  • Who wrote this passage?
  • Who is this passage written for?

 What

This category of questions is all about action. What are the main events taking place?

  • What is happening in the passage?
  • What happens to the characters?
  • What does this passage say about God?
  • What caused the trouble or conflict?
  • What is the subject covered in the passage?
  • What do you learn about the people in this passage?
  • What do you learn about the events taking place in this passage?
  • What do you learn from the teaching in this passage?
  • What instructions are given in this passage?
  • What is the argument?
  • What is the writer trying to communicate?
  • What is wrong with this picture?

 When

This category of questions is all about time. Questions are related to when things happen. What year; what time of day, etc? These are key questions in figuring out the order of events.

  • When did it happen?
  • When did it take place?
  • When do or will the events occur?
  • When did or will something happen to a particular person, people, or nation?
  • When did the events occur in relation to other events in Scripture?
  • When was the writer writing?

Where

 This category of questions is about location. Did the story take place in the wilderness; on the sea; in a boat; on a mountain; in Egypt; in Jerusalem?

  • Where did it happen?
  • Where did it take place?
  • Where will this happen?
  • Where was it said?
  • Where was it written?
  • Where are the people in the story?
  • Where are they coming from? Where are they going?
  • Where is the writer?
  • Where were the original readers of this text?

Why

 This category of questions is all about motivation.

  • Why did it happen?
  • Why is something being said?
  • Why would or will this happen?
  • Why at this time?
  • Why this person?
  • Why does this passage follow that passage? Why does this passage precede that passage?
  • Why does this person say that?
  • Why does someone say nothing?

How

 This category of questions is all about the mechanics of a situation and/or the application of a passage.

  • How did it happen?
  • How did lives change?
  • How did the story end?
  • How does this apply to my life?
  • How will it happen?
  • How is it to be done?
  • How is it illustrated?

Here’s an Example

Mark 4:35-41

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

Who

Who is in this story?

  • Jesus and His disciples (v. 35). We know it’s Jesus by looking a couple of verses earlier in verse 33 (context is really important).

What

 What happens in this story?

  • A storm hits (v. 37) and the disciples in the boat are terrified. Jesus stops the storm (v. 39).

When

 When does this story take place?

  • Evening (v.35)
  • After a day of teaching by the lake (vs. 1-34).

 Where

 Where does this story take place?

  • On the sea (this is inferred since the disciples get into a boat in order to get to the other side).
  • Bible detectives have to go all the way back to the beginning of chapter 4 to discover where this story happens. In verse one we find out that Jesus is teaching by the lake, probably the Sea of Galilee.

 Why

 Why was Jesus able to calm the storm?

  • Because He is the Son of God and has power over nature.

How

 How does this story end?

  • The disciples ask who Jesus is (v.41). The identity of Jesus is key.

Good observation skills and the ability to ask good questions are just the start of becoming Bible detectives. Teach your kids these skills and then give them lots of practice!

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