As You Go: 12 Ways to Engage Kids in Whole-Life Worship

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When I lived in North Carolina, I often rode to church gatherings with my friends and their family. I also sat with them in worship—yes, because they were my friends, but mostly because I really loved the way their oldest child would sing along with the music (especially if we were singing his favorite song, “10,000 Reasons!”).

Whether joyful at church or sleepy in the backseat of the family van, whenever the song started, my little friend would perk up and scream-sing, “Bless the Lord, O my soul!”

My own heart was stirred to worship because of his praise; I can only imagine our Father’s heart’s delight!

For the Church, worship is our response to God. It’s showing honor and reverence to Him and it’s giving Him praise for what He has done (Ps. 29:2, Ps. 95:6).

Worship is put into action in many ways including song, prayer, thankfulness, praise, Scripture reading and memory, obedience, and celebrating the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper (Mark 1:4-5; Acts 2:42; 1 Cor. 11:23-26; Col. 2:12). Yes—worship is so much more than three songs before the sermon on Sunday morning.

This concept of whole-life worship is the nuts and bolts of discipleship and this concept requires whole-life intentionality.

Michael J. Breen puts it plainly, “No one accidentally creates disciples. Discipleship is an intentional pursuit” (Building A Discipling Culture, 2014). Intentionally discipling the kids in our lives and teaching them to love God with all their whole heart, soul, mind, and strength is not only part of our own obedience and worship to God (Deut. 6:4-9; Matt. 22:36-40), but it builds a solid foundation for kids’ discipleship, sets the trajectory whole-life worship, and captures children’s vision with a glimpse of New Creation (Gen. 2:15; Deut. 6:4-9; Matt. 22:36-40, Matt. 28:18-20; Rom. 12:1-2; 1 Cor. 10:31; Rev. 7:9-10)

Worship and Obey

“The Lord God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden to work it and watch over it.” —Genesis 2:15, CSB

In his work The Pentateuch as Narrative (1992), biblical scholar, John Sailhamer, makes the case that the original Hebrew of the Genesis 2 text is most robustly translated in saying that man was placed in the garden to worship and obey God. Though working the land is part of Adam’s task, his work is actually obedience to God and, therefore, it is his worship.

This pattern of obedience and whole-life worship continues elsewhere in Scripture. Paul challenges us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to the Lord (Rom. 12:1-2). Further, Paul writes that even our food and drink should be consumed for God’s glory (1 Cor. 10:31). And ultimately, Jesus—our greatest example of worship and godly living—affirms the Old Testament Scriptures and encapsulates the entire law when He commands His listeners to love God and love others.

From the opening commands to work and watch over, worship and obey, to the life of Christ, and to the Spirit working in disciples’ lives still, today, the Bible evidences God’s design for whole-life obedience and worship.

As You Are Going

As a parent, minister, or teacher, you can intentionally disciple the kids in your life by remembering you are living coram Deo—in the presence of God. Practice fulfilling the Great Commandment and the Great Commission by encouraging whole-life worship in these ways:

1. Consider how your job, chores, or other daily tasks can be stewarded for God’s glory and for the advancement of His Kingdom. Encourage your children to adopt this mindset.

2. Intentionally model and talk about repentance and faith, obedience and worship.

3. Season your speech with truths about God that fix kids’ eyes on Him and stir their hearts for worship: God is good, God has a plan, God always keeps His promises, and God loves us so much, He sent Jesus to rescue us.

4. Invite kids in your ministry to share evidences of God’s grace or ways He’s answered their prayers.

5. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude; verbalize your thanks to God.

6. Reverence God and His sovereignty in all things. Remind boys and girls about

God’s faithfulness and goodness, even during tough times (ex: Job; Daniel; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego).

7. Equip kids to be knowers and doers of the Word (James 1:22).

8. Set aside time to build biblical literacy by practicing reading comprehension, Scripture memory, and Bible skills.

9. Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Deut. 6:5; Mt. 22:37).

10. Actively love your neighbors (Mt. 22:39; Luke 3:10-14, 10:26-37).

11. Go on a prayer walk with your kids.

12. Allow your kids to see you engage people with the gospel—anytime, anywhere.

Indeed, as you are going and in all that you do: work, watch over, worship, and obey. Invite the children in your care to do the same. You were made for exactly this!

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