Many Sunday school classes incorporate a time of singing in the morning schedule. But often the main purpose and goal of this time is not so readily grounded and communicated within a larger context of children’s formal biblical education. Why do we sing? What do we sing? In what manner do we sing? These are all important questions that should be addressed and should serve to transform this time into something of greater significance than simply singing songs, filling time, and engaging the children.
Why do we sing?
“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” (Revelation 4:11)
The why of leading worship in the classroom is this: We are aiming to lead children to worship God, who is worthy of our greatest love, devotion, trust, affections, honor, and praise. This can be expressed through the singing of songs, but it is not limited to singing. John Piper says,
“Worship” is the term we use to cover all the acts of the heart, mind, and body that intentionally express the infinite worth of God. This is what we were created for, as God says in Isaiah 43:7, “Everyone who is called by my name, and whom I have created for my glory…” That means that we were all created for the purpose of expressing the infinite worth of God’s glory. We were created to worship.
(“Bodies, Breakfast and the Marriage Bed: Meditation on Daily Worship,” desiringGod.org)
Helping children understand the why of worship should then lead to addressing the next two questions…
What do we sing?
Since worship involves recognizing and giving heartfelt expression to the “infinite worth of God’s glory,” we must choose songs that highlight God’s surpassing greatness and worth—His attributes and glorious works and deeds, the majesty of the gospel of Christ, and the blessings bestowed on God’s covenant people.
In what manner should we express the infinite worth of God?
The Bible shows many expressions of worship. Consider just a few verses:
“All the earth worships you and sings praises to you; they sing praises to your name.” (Psalm 66:4)
Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! (Psalm 95:6)
Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth! (Psalm 96:9)
Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre! (Psalm 149:3)
In the classroom setting, it is important to provide children a wide spectrum of these biblical expressions of worship. We must resist the tendency to lead children only in “fun and energetic” expressions of praise—clapping, playing loud instruments, dancing, etc. Think about this statement from Jerry Bridges:
In our day we must begin to recover a sense of awe and profound reverence for God. We must begin to view Him once again in the infinite majesty that alone belongs to Him who is the Creator and Supreme Ruler of the entire universe.
(The Practice of Godliness: Godliness Has Value for All Things, copyright 2016, page 21)
Therefore, what we sing and the manner in which we sing should reflect a holy reverence for God and an all-satisfying delight in God. Instead of mere fun during worship, we should be aiming children to experience serious joy!
To explore this topic further, including practical help for planning and leading classroom worship, download this free PDF: "Leading Children in Worship."