I love singing, dancing, showing off… You might feel the same, or you might rather eat a plate of locusts than take to the dance floor. Whatever your views, there are going to be children in your groups who love to sing and dance – how can we help children meet with God through these art forms without alienating those who hate performing?
First, the most obvious way to use singing and dancing in your sessions is in worship. Children can meet with God in amazing ways through sung worship, but I’m sure we’ve all been part of sessions where the sung worship has been stuttering, mumbled and awkward. Singing to God is easier in big groups, such as a festival event or holiday club, but when the group is small, some children can start feeling self-conscious. One way to overcome this self-consciousness is to reflect on your own attitude. Children will notice if you’re uncomfortable at singing in a small group, but if you worship God like no one else is looking, then they will feel more secure in their own singing!
You could also seek to provide a spread of worship activities so that those who aren’t natural singers can take part in a time of communal worship. To your music and singing, add flags and ribbons to help those who like to dance. Provide large sheets of paper and paint (and cover the floor if you have an expensive carpet!) and encourage children to paint their worship to God on the paper. Set out a space with Bibles, pens and paper and show children how to write their own Psalms. There are many other ideas you could put in here – a search on the internet will bring up lots of suggestions! You might have to have leaders demonstrate how to access each of these activities, so that children can see what worship through art, writing, dance or symbols might look like.
Singing and dancing can form part of Bible exploration too, enabling children to explore God’s Word using their talents and gifts. Psalms and other biblical songs are the obvious starting point. You could create tunes for psalms and songs, write and sing your own Psalms or create a dance routine or movement piece that expresses the feelings and words of a psalm (make up the music yourself or find a song which uses the words of the psalm). Alternatively, there are various plays and musicals which tell biblical stories (and we’re not just talking about Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat!) – if you’re feeling ambitious, why not put on a production about a Bible story you have been exploring (Kevin Mayhew’s website is a good place to start looking)?
Acting and drama opens up so many different options for Bible engagement, from acting out the story as it is read from the Bible to rewriting the story to make a contemporary drama, and everything in between. Drama gives children insight into the feelings and motivation of the characters in the Bible, and helps them to figure out why they might have done what they did or how they felt.
Even if singing and dancing isn’t your thing, there are plenty of ways to include it in your children’s work – you don’t need lots of resources or skills. In a second part to this blog, I’ll explore drama and acting a little bit more and outline some ideas that you might be able to try in your group!
Alex Taylor is Children’s Ministry Trainer for the Diocese of London and Staff Writer for Premier Childrenswork.
Image: "01-karaoke-mikro" by Elmschrat – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.