At Journey Church we sometimes have children playing with us in our Sunday morning worship. We’ve had children as young as seven join the team. We love being a teaching church, but not every child is ready to take a leap of this magnitude. Some of you might be interested to hear the criteria we use to decide whether a child is ready to begin playing with a worship team.
- Are they involved in musical training outside of the church environment? Kids who take private lessons or are at least involved in band or choir are welcome to come and see if they’re ready to start working into the team. Unfortunately, we are currently unable to provide the training necessary to teach a child (or adult) how to play an instrument.
- Do they want to get involved with the worship team? This is a very important question. I will ask it. On more than one occasion I’ve had parents offer up a child that doesn’t really want to take on the time commitment and/or perform publicly. On these occasions I’ve told the child that the door is open if they change their mind. We don’t make unwilling adults participate and we don’t make unwilling children participate.
- Will they play with the team? If questions one and two are answered with a “yes” we invite the child to come to a worship practice. Once this happens they fall under the same scrutiny as the adults who want to join. They are free to observe. They are offered a chance to play along. If they’re too shy to play along, they aren’t ready. They are invited to return whenever they want to, but won’t be considered for the team until they start to play along.
- Can they play with the team? Sometimes people come to practice and struggle to keep up. This happens with both children and adults. We give tips, we tell people what to work on, and we try not to put anyone in a situation that they aren’t ready for. We invite them back to more practices. A little stretching is fine – it leads to growth. Too much stretching leads to all sorts of bad things.
- Moving on to Sunday morning. If a child passes through #’s 1-4, he or she is ready to give Sunday morning a shot. We will put them in with a team, fashion a set that meets their skill set, place strong players and teachers around them and coach them on how to contribute in meaningful ways. Throughout the process they not only have the benefit of the coaching aimed directly at them, they are put in an active, grown-up musical environment where more is being “caught” than “taught”.
- What if they mess up? We expect that they will. What if the adults mess up? We do it all the time. We tell the kids ahead of time that it’s okay if they mess up and we coach them on how to get back on track if they do. Mostly we encourage them for the things they do right.
- Do they want to continue? If all goes well we hope the child will want to continue, but it’s okay if after giving it a shot he or she doesn’t want to go beyond the first time. This happens with people of all ages. It’s a big commitment.
- How often will you use them? It is very rare for us to use a child more than once a month. That keeps them growing musically and keeps it a fun experience for them. Our pie-in-the-sky goal is that the child will be preparing for a lifelong involvement in worship ministry. No need to rush it in the beginning.
- Keep checking in. Every month or two I ask the kids if they like how it’s going and if they want to keep doing it. Sometimes I find out they need to take a break. I also ask them for their ideas. If they’re putting in the time they are part of the team and their voice matters as much as the adult members of the team.