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Newsletter  -  Thursday, April 7, 2011

Nurturing Young Temples of the Holy Spirit

When the disciples were having one of their “I’m more anointed than all of you and deserve more glory” moments, Jesus refocused them on God’s economy by saying, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” He took a little child and had him stand among the disciples, then taking the child in His arms, He said to them, “Whoever welcomes one these little children in My name welcomes Me…” (Mark 9:35-37). It wasn’t long after this lesson that parents brought their children to Jesus to have Him lay His hands on them and bless them. As a parent, I am sure these people must have witnessed Jesus’ genuine tenderness and love for children. I believe that He took time to play with them throughout His life; He talked with them, danced with them, hugged them and showed them the love of the Heavenly Father. Jesus does what He sees the Father do and we know the Father talks to us, His children, and sings and dances over us with joy. It is interesting that the disciples, who just a short time earlier had been told by Jesus that anyone who welcomes a child welcomes Him, are doing just the opposite and rebuking the parents for bringing their children to Jesus. I love what Mark 10:14-16 says, “When Jesus saw this, He became indignant (expressing strong displeasure at something considered unjust, offensive, insulting). He said to them (the disciples), ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth; anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ And He took the children in His arms, put His hands on them and blessed them.

I love watching children praise Jesus. They sing loud, clap, stomp, dance, jump, shout and eagerly express their joy to Him. Everything they hear about His love they immediately receive and talk about with others. They aren’t ashamed of the gospel. They aren’t afraid of what others may think of their expressions of praise and worship, and they do it with their whole heart. Children don’t analyze the kingdom of God and run it through the logic of what man has seen with his eyes, past hurts, or the laws of physics.

Several times a month I receive emails from people who lead ministries involving children. They ask many questions about how to teach children, so I have dedicated this newsletter to those who have the incredible opportunity of nurturing the younger temples of the Holy Spirit. What I share in here is also applicable to teens, adults, and parents who want to raise their children with an understanding of praise and worship. It has been a privilege for me to work with children in praise and worship classes, dance ministry classes and in conferences for the past 20 years. What the Holy Spirit has taught me in preparation for these classes caused me to grow as much as the kids.

Children have a shorter attention span, so I try to keep teaching interactive (ask a lot of questions) and short, interchanging it with movement. Warning, do not teach a class to kids without a lesson plan. The Holy Spirit may change your list or order of things to do at the meeting, but do your homework and planning on paper before you meet with the children so that you know what you are doing throughout your time together.

I usually begin with a short warm-up movement to songs of praise. Children are often still discovering rhythm and are not in complete control of their fine muscle movement; there are several things you can do that will help develop these areas.

1. Together, clap, slap your hands on your thighs, or drum the floor with your hands in rhythm to a song.  Next, bounce or bend at the knee to the beat. Take that to the next level with stepping out and bounce with legs apart in an 8 count, step back together on 8, repeat with the other leg. Do this same exercise but go to 4 counts and then 2. Finally move to the beat with step side with the right foot then bring the left foot next to it. Repeat from side to side.

2.  Isolations help with the motor skill development; try doing them to counts of eight. Begin with the head looking side to side, and then look up and down, finally ear to the right shoulder then left. Move to shoulders with shoulder shrugs. Arm movements will be next with arms held out to the side. Tell them to reach like someone is pulling them by both arms. Circle the arms forward 8 times then back 8 times. You may wish to have the children practice reaching up, down, front and side. Side stretches and torso circles are also a good warm-up.

3. Now get their feet moving in some cardio and simple dance steps. Chasse to the side or galloping is always a kid favorite. Change up arm movements as they do these. If they don’t know how to skip, teach that skill. Throw in pivot turns, 3-step turns with a clap (like doing “The Hustle”), kicks, jumps and any other easy skill that you want to incorporate.

4. Add a few simple leg stretches after the cardio because now their leg muscles will be warm. All of these exercises should take 10-15 minutes total. 

Move on to a short teaching lesson now. Here are some basic foundational lessons to be taught in a dance/praise and worship class. At every class, take time to review what was taught in lessons before and always have the children begin and end the class by giving God thanks, praise, worship, etc.:

1. Praise and Worship is not a style of music, it is a way we live our lives, and so what is praise? Ask the children if they know what the terms “praise” and “thanksgiving” mean. Read Psalm 100:4 and explain in a king’s palace what a gate is and what a court is. If one comes through the gate with thanksgiving, what is thanksgiving? I call it an “attitude of gratitude”. The power of “thank you” in the human life opens doors and hearts. True gratitude feeds humility. An attitude of gratitude opens the gate/door for us to go in and hang out with our best friend – Jesus. At this point the kids can begin to name things that they are thankful for: something He=s given them, something they really like to do, someone special, something He=s done for them or their family, something they believe He=s going to do for them in the future. End the lesson with children actively speaking out their thanksgiving to the Lord. 

2.  Review Psalm 100:4 and a king’s palace. Now ask, “What is praise?” “How do we come into His courts with praise?” “Let=s praise Him by telling Him how great He is.” Give examples to the kids by saying things like:  “Lord, You are strong, You are so funny, You are a genius, etc.@ Then have the children tell God 3 things they think about Him.

To drive home the fact that God doesn’t need our praise, but we need to praise Him, I do a relay race with the kids. Make two teams and line them up next to each other, tell the rules and object of the relay race, then have the children turn around so they can’t see what their teammates are doing. They are not allowed to talk during the race and can only turn around when it is their turn to do the relay. After they do the race this way, tell them to turn and face the race, play it again and yell encouragement to their teammates as loud as possible. The excitement starts. After the races, talk together about the difference between the first relay and the second. Children usually don’t feel like they are a part of a team in the relay when they can’t watch or yell for their teammates. When they are able to watch and yell, they feel that their words of encouragement can really make a difference in the way their teammates perform. Relate this to praise. God can do anything as He is all powerful, but He enjoys partnering with us. When we praise Him, our faith is strengthened to believe God is all powerful and able to do anything. We need to praise the Lord so that we keep our eyes focused on Him, take the limits off and move boldly and confidently in all He has for us.

3. For another lesson, discuss the seven Hebrew words for praise. Emphasize that praise is an outward expression, a physical action. Here is how to teach the Hebrew words for praise to children in an easy to remember method:

Barak - Bow   Stand and have a child stand in front of you. Have the child slowly bend lower and ask her if you seem to be getting bigger or taller. The lower the child makes herself, the greater you seem. This is a good lead into talking about humbling ourselves before God, recognizing His greatness, choosing to lift Him above ourselves, etc.

Shabach - Shout unashamed the glory, triumph, power, mercy and love of God. Have the children shout praise with an attitude of putting her whole being into it.

Halal - to make a show, boast, celebrate, dance and move around, doesn't care if they look foolish because they are so filled with joy, excitement. Have the children show what they would do if they won something great. This one they can dance, jump, shout, run about, leap, etc. Also, this is part of the word "Hallelujah".

Zamar - strumming a musical instrument, like a guitar (rhymes with zamar), praising or celebrating with an instrument and song.  They can pretend to play guitar or harp and sing.

Yadah - to worship with the hands lifted, this shows giving oneself in total commitment to the Lord, making an oath to Him out of our love and adoration. Standing with hands lifted makes a “Y” shape like the beginning of the word.

Tahillah - (rhymes with the drink tequila) When we read in the scriptures that God inhabits the praises of His people or is enthroned on the praises of His people, this is that praise. It is a spontaneous song; singing a melody from your heart and adding your own words of love to it. When we read "Sing a new song to the Lord", this is what it is talking about. It’s not singing what someone else has written, it is a song that originates from one’s own heart. Children can usually make up a song to Lord fairly easily.

Towdah - A confession of praise and thanksgiving as a sacrifice before you see it happen in the natural. This praise is accompanied by lifting the hands and agreeing that what God has promised will be done. This one is an activation of faith. Find out what God has said to each child or their family about the plans He has for them and begin to thank God and praise Him for His faithfulness, goodness, kindness, love, etc.

4. After reviewing thanksgiving and praise, ask the children what they think worship is. Discuss some of the definitions of worship: love, adoration, to be attached to, honor, respect, admire. It’s a heart that not only says, “God, you are worth everything; I love you with all I am!”, but also shows Him by our actions the depths of our love. Ask the children what they can do to worship God and what movements they can make to demonstrate it. Some translations of worship in the scriptures include: Greek- Proskuneo, “to kiss” We have to get very close to someone to kiss them (Intimacy & passion). Hebrew- Shachah, “to prostrate”, “to bow down” (humility).

Worship is an open act of humility and intimacy with Lord.  Individual and corporate worship brings a manifestation of the presence and glory of God in the midst of His people.  Teach the importance of expressing love to Jesus everyday.  We can’t “kiss” the One we love just on Sundays; that’s not a good relationship. We are not really worshiping God if we only humble ourselves once a week to exalt Him.  We need to make a daily effort to spend time with our Savior. Ps. 2:12 says, “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”  Jesus is longing for us to be with Him every day. He really misses us when we don’t spend time with Him. 

5. Other classes could include lessons on words such as: “Lord” - what is a lord (historical study) and why is Jesus a good Lord? “Rejoice” – Hebrew definitions are actions. Discuss scriptures that tell us to rejoice. More words that children need to understand are: “awesome” and “awe”, “rule and reign”, “majesty”, “mighty”, and one I love - “fear”. Kids often don’t know the difference between being afraid and fearing the Lord. Hebrew translations of the word “fear” include awe, reverence, and even dwell and abide. Explain that we need to stay close to Jesus (dwell, live and abide in Him) and build our relationship with Him to gain wisdom. “Reverence” needs to be defined: 1. a feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe; veneration. 2. the outward manifestation of this feeling: 3. a gesture indicative of deep respect; an obeisance, bow, or curtsy.  “Obeisance” is a movement of the body expressing deep respect or deferential courtesy, as before a superior; a bow, curtsy, or other similar gesture.  Reverence contains a movement! The Holy Spirit will show you more words and terms to research and discuss in your classes.

After a short lesson, do something with action. Try ever so often to incorporate some craft ideas into the class by having kids make or decorate simple flags, glory rings, streamers, or any other praise tools the Lord shows you. As you are creating these items, teach the children what the various colors mean according to scripture. Teach the history of flags, banners and standards and where they are mentioned in the Bible. Share what the different styles of banners, flags, and standards are and what they symbolized. Share what flags mean today throughout the world. Teach different movements they can do with a flag to represent celebration, the King is here, God’s might and power, movements that encourage all worshipers to praise, etc. You can do the same with other praise tools as well. Have these tools available during corporate praise and use them in choreographed pieces.

Dances don’t always have to be choreographed by the leader; there should be times when you allow the children to come up with the moves. Before beginning any dance, it is important that they understand the lyrics and meaning of the song they will be ministering. Once they understand the song, take turns asking children what they would do to express the lines of a song and why they chose that movement. Link the movements together that each child has given until the dance is done. They like contributing to the ministry piece.

Think outside the song and teach children movement to Bible verses. This is a great way for everyone to understand scripture and remember it. You can also assign them verses to take home to choreograph their own movement. Have them share the verse in movement with the group at the next meeting.

Here is one last idea to help you plan your lessons; close the meeting with a time of spontaneous praise, celebration, and worship movement. Allow the children to move freely with the Holy Spirit. Encourage uninhibited expressions of love and joy to the Lord. Teach them to “follow the leader” in un-choreographed movement and dance. After they have followed you, pass off leadership to a child for everyone to follow. Try doing “mirror image” movements between two children so they learn to work together. You may want to create an intimate atmosphere during times of spontaneous worship by dimming the lights and create an atmosphere of celebration during times of praise by bringing out the praise tools for kids to use.

I have been in services when children have led worship or ministered in praise and worship; the result was spiritual chains that held adults and teens fell off. Dancing, shouting, passionate praise and wholehearted worship was expressed by everyone in the congregation. Joy was released and a renewed desire for the presence and glory of God was revived in His people. Children are powerful temples of the Holy Spirit. Psalm 8:2 says, “From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise and strength because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.” The Lord created children to be powerful arrows of praise to silence enemy and set God’s people free. For this reason, I highly suggest you plan a time when parents and leadership anoint, bless, and commission the children to their assignments/ministry in the Lord. Leaders, you have the honor of nurturing these precious warriors of God.

Be encouraged as you get your direction from the Holy Spirit in all you do. I hope that this newsletter has inspired creativity, a fresh perspective and new excitement to work with those God has brought to you.


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July 2 - 9  9th International Creative Arts Worship Conference at Dunamis International Family Church in Alberton, South Africa.



Instructional worship and praise dance videos


  Instructional worship and praise dance videos 


Instructional worship and praise dance videos

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Last modified: February 13, 2012