New Song Blues:
Many curriculums offer a wide variety of new songs to go with each Themed book of curriculum. I think this is a great idea because it gives teachers a variety of praise and worship songs to use. However, for many students and especially children, it’s difficult for them to learn several new songs within one 13-week long quarter of Sunday School. Therefore teachers should be aware of this and limit the new songs to three or four at the most during the quarter.
Also, if there are too many new songs, the students get frustrated trying to fumble through the words of new songs. I found out that limiting the songs worked well because the students could learn a few new ones and still have fun singing their old favorites.
Active Praise and Worship:
What I call active praise is a wonderful tool for encouraging the children to praise and worship the Lord. What I mean by active praise is singing praise and worship songs along with doing physical actions such as clapping, dancing, lifting holy hands to the Lord, waving banners or flags, using hand motions or sign language and/or waving objects such as small flashlights. Adults and children alike get excited about Jesus with active praise and worship.
One example that I used to help increase excitement during praise and worship was to give each child a small flashlight to move up and down as they sang and did hand movements with the music. Our theme at the time was ‘Jesus is the light of the world.’ We turned off the lights in the room and used the flashlight as our source of light to demonstrate how Jesus’ light shined from our hearts to those in the world around them.
We also used the flashlights to do a series of short object lessons. We showed the children how light shines in the darkness, how evil deeds can’t be seen in the dark but the light exposes them, how only one light can really brightened a darkened area and what happened when the students covered their lights so they didn’t shine brightly.
The children loved these praise and worship times and for months afterwards they kept asking me if they could use the flashlights for praise and worship time. I know the children were fascinated with the lights and the object lessons and they worked really well to drive home the lesson points.
Using simple objects for lessons and, if they go along with the theme, can really help children visualize the lesson points. Using simple objects, when they fit with the lesson, can add a new twist to the worship service and get the students excited!
I don’t think objects should be used all the time because anything that becomes routine loses its excitement and impact. Objects must be carefully chosen and should not be dangerous or should not take away from the service. For example, if a child started goofing around with his or her flashlight during service, I gently reminded them to quit playing around and worship God. If a reminder didn’t work, the child lost their privileges of using the flashlight in that day’s service. By doing this, the children learned that we weren’t just playing around, and that we were serious about our praise and worship time.