by Bekah Stoneking
When teaching big truths to little kids, we sometimes bump into the unexpected—no matter how well-studied and prepared we are. In this post, I’ll share a story about a time a simple question resulted in an unexpected answer, which helped me get a peek into the minds of my Sunday schoolers.
“Raise your hands and tell me about your favorite worship songs!”
As a relatively new Nashville resident, I was surprised (but maybe I shouldn’t have been!) when one of my Sunday schoolers answered this question by saying his favorite worship song was Tim McGraw’s “I Like It, I Love It” (and I needed a moment to regain control of my group after several kids joined in the chorus— which we Nashvillians all enthusiastically sing in response to our local NHL team scoring a goal.)
I decided to hit pause on calling additional kids to share their favorite songs. I needed to explain that while we might joyfully sing Mr. McGraw’s 1995 hit as a response to something good, it is not, in fact, a worship song.
The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary for Kids defines worship as “giving honor, reverence, and praise to God.” Worshiping God can make us feel joyful, it can make our hearts glad, and it is good for us. But ultimately, worship is for God and it’s something we give Him in response to who He is and what He does.
I shared that one of my favorite worship songs is “How Great Thou Art” because it reminds me of how big and wonderful God is. And, the lyric “then sings my soul” just makes me feel joyful! This hymn makes my heart happy and helps my heart love God even more because it reminds me that God is big, He is always good, He is trustworthy, and He gives us hope.
I then continued our conversation:
“Worship helps us focus on God. We worship God when we sing to Him, but we also worship God when we read the Bible and when we pray. What are some other things we do in church and at home to worship God?”
The kids engaged in the conversation by identifying other church activities and personal disciplines—like giving an offering, taking the Lord’s Supper, obeying God, journaling, and sharing the gospel—as ways we can worship God with our lives.
And then finally, we went back to the original question. As my kids engaged with this new information and offered their answers, we enjoyed praising the Lord together by singing parts of our favorite worship songs as a group.
Today’s Takeaway: When you receive a totally unanticipated response, do not continue plowing forward. Instead, back up and ask your question in a new way. Guide the conversation by defining your terms and setting up guardrails to keep everyone on the same path.