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Now Available: New Fighter Verses Songs

Now Available: Fighter Verses Songs, Set 2

The Fighter Verses Songs are a wonderful tool to incorporate more Scripture into your day and help you memorize and remember verses more quickly. The Fighter Verses Songs, Set 2 album includes word-for-word Bible passages (English Standard Version) set to music to help believers fight the fight of faith.

This CD features 34 songs (over an hour of music) from important and beloved Bible passages from 20 books of the Bible. The songs were creatively written and recorded to make Scripture memorization easy and fun. Musical styles include folk, a cappella, jazz, pop, classical and family songs. Tunes are easy to learn, fun for kids and enjoyable to listen to on repeat.

Fighter Verses Songs: Set 2 Verses

The songs include passages such as John 3:16-17, Romans 3:23-24 (For All Have Sinned), along with all of Psalm 91 (He Who Dwells In the Shelter) and Psalm 103 (Bless the Lord, O My Soul). The CD begins with “The Word of our God will stand forever!” (Isaiah 40:8) and ends with “Worthy is the Lamb!” (Revelation 5:12-13). Your children will memorize scripture without even trying–and so will you!

Isaiah 40:8

2 Corinthians 4:17-18

 

The Fighter Verses Songs, Set 2 CD is available to order now from Children Desiring God. It will also be available on iTunes and Amazon soon.

 

Fighter Verses Songs CollectionThe Fighter Verses Songs Collection

The release of Set 2 completes the full series of Fighter Verses Songs. Purchase the Fighter Verses Songs Collection for just $35 to receive all five CDs. You and your family will be equipped to memorize and review 260 Scripture passages with these beautiful and encouraging songs.

 

 

 

Practical Tips and Resources for Worship Leaders

Practical Tips and Resources for Worship Leaders

Read Part 1 of this post: A Vision for Leading Children in Worship

Leading children in worship is different than leading adults in worship because children differ in their ability to:

  • Understand God, themselves, and their relationship to Him.
  • Understand language, ideas and how to talk about God.

So worship leaders must lead in ways that are developmentally age appropriate. Make sure to check out the curriculum introduction because the authors often give insights into what would be age appropriate. And leaders must take into account children who are not yet believers, as well as give thought how to nurture the faith of the children by example and introduce children to a language by which they may learn to worship rightly now and in the future.

So how do we plan a time of worship with children?

  1. Pray for guidance and help by the Holy Spirit (Psalm 127:1, John 14:26)
  2. Be well acquainted with the overall scope of the curriculum and specific lesson for the day.
  3. Determine the focus of the worship time (reflective, repentant, responsive to the lesson, rejoicing in our great God…)
  4. Know what the lyrics express and consider:
    1. Do they fit well with the lesson, curriculum, and focus of worship?
    2. Are they filled with big and glorious truths, while still being understandable to the children?
    3. Do they build faith in our amazing God and the wonders of redemption?
    4. Will they benefit the children if they sing them over and over during the week? During the next year? During the next 10 years? Are they worth memorizing?

What kinds of songs should be considered?

  1. Favorite Sunday school songs of substance
  2. New, fresh worship songs written specifically for children (Psalm 96:1)
  3. Scripture songs (check out the Fighter Verses songs and the Let the Little Children Sing Scripture songbook)
  4. Traditional hymns
  5. Songs from your all-church gatherings
  6. Songs from other cultures (perhaps have missionaries teach a song)

Remember, words are important, so take time to help them understand what they are singing.

A Sample Format for Planning Worship

  • Call to Worship: Helps us draw near and vertically focus on God
  • Praise and Adoration: Songs directed to God or about His character
  • Teaching: Teach new songs, share hymn story, lyric explanations, hand motions, etc.
  • Response: Songs of commitment, blessing, witness, and prayer

Sample Worship Format

Don’t forget to include prayer and Scripture (either read or recited) in your plan.

Be intentional in your planning. Determine to plan and lead worship in a way that helps the children grow in their knowledge, love, and trust of God.

If you have a large age range in your class, you might consider songs that echo or repeat phrases (e.g., This is the Day, Rejoice in the Lord Always, Humble Yourself in the Sight of the Lord…) You could have the older children help lead hand motions, hold visuals, or use rhythm or accompaniment instruments. It is a great opportunity to teach them about what worship teams do and why.

Make sure to prepare lyric sheets/overheads or visuals for younger children (following copyright laws) ahead of time. Show up early. Have instruments ready and tuned prior to the worship time. Open and close with prayer. Let students see you with an open Bible. That communicates more than you might think.

Learn More

To learn more about worship leading, I encourage you to listen to my seminar, Leading Children in God-Centered Worship, where I share more examples and practical suggestions. For specific song sources, check the end of the seminar handout.

Seminar Audio: Leading Children in God-Centered Worship

Seminar Handout: Leading Children in God-Centered Worship

Special thanks to Pam Grano for developing many of the original ideas shared here.

Read Part 1 of this post: A Vision for Leading Children in Worship

A Vision for Leading Children in Worship

A Vision for Leading Children in Worship

Read Part 2 of this post: Practical Tips and Resources for Worship Leaders

Have you ever wondered why we sing in Sunday school? Is it a time-filler or a way to keep the kids occupied? Or is there purpose behind it?

We lead children in worship, first and foremost, because God is worthy of worship.

  • I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised…—Psalm 18:3
  • Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.—Psalm 145:3-4
  • Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.—Philippians 2:9-11

Secondly, we were created to worship and we are training children to be worshippers of God.

  • But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.—1 Peter 2:9
  • After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes…crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”—Revelation 7:9-10

“Worship” is the term we use to cover all the acts of the heart, mind and body that intentionally express the infinite worth of God. This is what we were created for, as God says in Isaiah 43:7, “Everyone who is called by my name, and whom I have created for my glory…” That means that we were all created for the purpose of expressing the infinite worth of God’s glory. We were created to worship.
—John Piper (“Meditations on Daily Worship,” at desiringGod.org)

How we worship our great God will vary greatly, but it is important that we remember some basics, and the rest should fall into place as we seek God on the specific “hows” of worship. We must worship in spirit and truth by engaging both the heart and the head, the emotions and the mind. And our affections for God must be rooted in truth for worship to be biblical.

Another thing to remember is to talk and sing to God, not just about Him. Don’t get me wrong, it is important to teach songs about God to help our children learn about Him and to equip them to preach to their own souls, but we must be careful to remember that true worship is communion with God, not just learning about him. (See “Talk to God, Not Just About Him” by John Piper, desiringGod.org)

Read Part 2 of this post: Practical Tips and Resources for Worship Leaders

 

Strategies for Engaging Children in the Worship Service

My Church Notebook

Sunday mornings are “all hands on deck” for our family. My husband and I are actively involved in helping our daughter and son-in-law engage their four young children in the corporate worship service. I’m happy to say that progress is being made with the 3- and 5-year-olds. The 1-year-old twins have a long way to go, but they are observing and benefiting from the experience in more ways than we can imagine. Much of this progress can be attributed to a partnership of church and parents—a church that encourages, assists, and welcomes children in the worship service, and parents who actively prepare and train their children.

That is why I am so excited that we now have these resources available to share:

For the church—“Let the Children Come to Me in Worship” (video), in which Pastor David Michael lays out a biblical vision and philosophy for encouraging children to be in the corporate worship service.

For parents—“Strategies for Engaging Children in the Worship Service” (audio), in which Sally Michael gives very practical advice for parents.

8 Tips for Helping Your Child Worship—a free brochure.

MyChurchNotebook_Cover_TNAnd last but not least a special resource for children:

My Church Notebook is designed to guide elementary aged children to participate in the service. It teaches them to actively listen to the sermon, take notes, recognize key points, ask questions, and discover more about God and His ways.

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A Missing Book in Our Homes and Churches?

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No, I am not referring to the Bible here…That is an obvious must in our homes and churches. But there is a certain type of book that is increasingly overlooked. A book that, throughout the history of the Church, commends itself to passing on to the next generation sound doctrine and God-centered worship. What is this book? A hymnal.

Hymns have a very special place in my heart. I don’t remember a single sermon from my childhood, but I remember the great hymns of faith we sang in church. In college, away from home for the first time, I gathered with other believers on our secular campus, and we spent a significant amount of time singing hymns together. While my future husband and I were courting, we would go for long walks and sing hymns together. Our wedding march was the hymn And Can It Be. Our children grew up surrounded by hymns and grew to love them, too. There has always been a hymnal in our home—a go-to resource for times of joyful praise, tearful worship, theological education, and encouragement.

Here are two wonderful new hymnal options I highly recommend:

Hosanna Loud Hosannas Student Hymnal
Description from their website—Students of all ages, but particularly elementary and middle school ages need a book of hymns designed for them. Here is a hymn book that is also a history book of hymn backgrounds as well as a devotional book of what the hymns mean as you sing them.

 These 115 hymns were carefully selected as essential hymns that every child needs to learn and sing! Ancient to modern, these hymns cover the Church Year, the attributes of God, and our responses to God for all He has done.

See a sample here.

Hymns of Grace
Description from their website—Hymns of Grace is a project of Grace Community Church & The Master’s Seminary.This collection of approximately 355 titles features current standard hymns (some rearranged musically), old hymns that have fallen out of use, many wonderful new hymns, and more than 90 responsive Scripture readings (ESV).

  • Over 100 new hymns and melodies
  • 34 titles written or co-written by Stuart Townend
  • 30 titles written or co-written by Keith Getty
  • 9 new hymns by Chris Anderson and Greg Habegger
  • 7 titles by John Newton and 18 by Isaac Watts
  • 5 titles by Bob Kauflin and 11 titles from Sovereign Grace Music
  • 2 new hymns from R.C. Sproul
  • 2 hymns from John MacArthur
  • Accompaniments by Bob Kauflin, Keith Getty, Mark Rice, Tom Jennings and others
  • ESV scripture readings, formatted for respons
    ive readings
  • Only ESV hymnal in print
  • Large print and binding (approximately 6.75 by 9.75 inches).
  • At the core of this version are 186 titles that will match up with orchestra and instrumental parts available at lifewayworship.com.

(Image courtesy of Mister GC at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

 

 

Awake My Soul and Praise the Lord

Children Desiring God Blog // Awake My Soul Hymn

Each Monday, the Children Desiring God team gathers together for a time of devotions, hymn singing and prayer for each other and each of you. This week, we sung the hymn, Awake, My Soul, and with the Sun, which Thomas Ken wrote based on the following verses:

Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
Psalm 57:8 & 103:1

Although you may not recognize the title or composer, the eleventh verse is on of the most frequently used pieces of music in public worship…commonly known as the Doxology.

(more…)

We Need the Wisdom of the Past

We need the wisdom of the past

The title is a quote from an important article by Stephen Nichols, “Youth-Driven Culture” (posted at Ligonier Ministries). The contemporary church needs to hear his words and think deep and hard as to whether we have promoted an unhealthy and unbiblical fixation on youth in our local churches. Here is how he begins the article,

The subtle and not-so-subtle pulls of the idolization of youth manifest themselves in three areas. The first is an elevation of youth over the aged. This reverses the biblical paradigm. The second is a view of being human that values prettiness (not to be confused with beauty and aesthetics), strength, and human achievement… The third is the dominance of the market by the youth demographic. That is to say, in order to be relevant and successful, one must appeal to the youth or to youthful tastes…

The trend of exalting youth and sidelining the elderly stems from a deeper problem summed up in the expression, “Newer is better.” We celebrate the new and innovative while looking down on the past and tradition. There is a compelling vitality to youth and to new ideas, but that does not mean there is no wisdom to be found in the past. It is a sign of hubris to think one can face life without the wisdom of those who have gone before. There is something about being young that makes the young think they are immune to the mistakes or missteps of those who have gone before. We all think too highly of ourselves and our capacities. Simply put, we need the wisdom of the past and of the elderly.

Nichols then goes on to observe how this trend has manifested itself within the church,

The idolization of youth even seeps into the church. One of the ways in which we see this is in the stress on church youth groups…  Youth groups can serve a significant purpose and can be meaningful ministries. However, they can separate the youth from the other age groups in the church. The church needs to worship, learn, and pray together, old and young side by side. The culture tries to push the aged away. The church cannot afford to do that.

I would highly encourage everyone to read the entire article.

Photo courtesy of Jake Melara

I Spy God Almighty!—Family Activity

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It’s only 8 a.m., but already I have seen and heard mighty deeds of God.

  •  A red-winged blackbird sat outside the living room window and sang his marvelous song.
  • Rain is falling from the sky, gently watering the thirsty ground.
  • The long-dormant grass is coming to life again.
  • I gave my dog her antibiotic—a “wonder drug” that is curing her infection.
  • I have enjoyed a hot cup of coffee.

And, of course, I could go on and on. But to do this I need to first be on the lookout for the power and might of God in the everyday things of life. Too many times we simply miss out on what these “ordinary” things are meant to show us, namely, glimpses of the almighty power of God.

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made… (Romans 1:20 ESV)

I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples. (Psalm 77:12-14 ESV)

Here is a super-simple and fun activity to do with your children this week. It’s called, “I Spy God Almighty.” Encourage your children to be on the lookout for things that God has done through His almighty power. When they see, hear, or experience something that demonstrates God’s might, they should call out, “I spy God almighty!,” and then share what particular thing they saw. For added benefit, you could keep a running tab over a designated period of time, and then use the list as a means of prayer and praise to God.

(Image courtesy of Stoonn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

Families Together in Worship

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One of things that brings a smile to my face every Sunday morning is the presence of little children—even some 2-year–olds—sitting with their parents in the corporate worship service. They are not all perfectly behaved, and sometimes their parents look a little frazzled by the end of the service. A few children won’t make it all the way until the end and will be taken out by a parent. And, once in a while, a child who should be taken out is left in the service. But these are very minor inconveniences compared to the wonderful benefits of having children in the corporate worship service.

Here, John Piper gives some reasons why children should be in worship:

There are three reasons, at least, why I have urged that, at the latest, from first grade on the children join their parents in worship. First, we live in a day in which pressures from all sides are on the family to be fractured and atomized. Fathers are worked to a frazzle and so are too dogged to spend quality time with children; mothers are lured away from their little children to the work force; children have their own activities, and the one thing that pulls them all to the same room makes zombies out of them all: the television. Stir into this a general cultural mood of “me first,” and my rights and my self-realization, and you have got a powerful anti-family milieu. In this atmosphere, the church, as the preserver of biblical principles, must find ways to say “no” to these pressures and affirm the depth and beauty of familial bonds. But where and how? It seems to me that the high point of our corporate life together is the place to start. Let’s make worship a family affair as much as we can.

Second, five-, six-, seven- and eight-year-olds will gain tremendously from being in worship. Many six-year-olds have made professions of faith after sitting through a worship service. But even where most of the sermon goes over their heads, the children profit. They learn more theology and piety from the hymns than we realize, they come to be comfortable and at home with the form of the service, they experience from time-to-time the large and awesome moments of quietness or the blast of an organ prelude or fervor of an old man’s prayer. Week-after-week they see hundreds of adults bowed in worship, and unless we teach them otherwise, they will grow up thinking, “This is where I belong on Sunday morning, and this is the way one behaves in Sunday worship”…

Which leads me to my third reason for wanting the children in worship. I want us, as a church, to say, “No!” to the lackadaisical attitudes toward child training and the harmfully low expectations placed upon children in our day…The expectation that a six-year-old sit quietly to the honor of God one or two hours a week is not a high expectation, and we should demand it of our children.

( “The Children, The Church, and the Chosen,” ©2015 Desiring God Foundation, www.desiringgod.org )

 

Here are some additional resources for encouraging your church and providing practical tips for parents:

(Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

New Easter Resource for Families

Mission Accomplished book

Just released—Mission Accomplished: A Two-Week Family Easter Devotional by Scott James. Here is Sally Michael’s endorsement:

Scott James has provided families with an easy-to-use, yet spiritually enriching Easter devotional. Starting with the events leading to the cross through the ascension of Jesus, families are encouraged to read the corresponding Scripture, discuss the passage, and make application through questioning and activities. In addition, many selections include a rich hymn to use in family worship. This little book is a great tool for focusing the hearts of your family members on the reality of Jesus s redemptive mission.

Here is a more detailed description from the publisher:

Celebrate the Greatest Rescue Mission in History Nearly 2,000 years ago, a simple wooden cross and an empty tomb served as the setting for the greatest rescue mission in history the good news of a loving Father going to great lengths to save his broken children. Every year at Easter, with a joyful shout of Christ is risen! we declare again the climax of this great story. Although Easter Sunday only happens once a year, the truths behind it are big enough to shape our lives every single day. Starting on Palm Sunday, your family will spend two weeks (fourteen devotions) walking in time with Jesus as he finished the work his Father had given him. Extending your devotional time into the week beyond Easter Sunday will encourage your family to follow the risen Jesus as he calls his disciples on a Spirit-filled mission to spread the good news to all nations. Your family will learn that God calls every Christ follower to that very same task, promising that his power and presence will help us as we go. Each devotion takes just ten-minutes and is suitable for all ages of children. Included are suggestions for hymns to sing and family activities that give you a chance to remember and apply the truth that Christ is risen indeed! 

It is easier to speak smilingly about bunnies and baskets on Easter than it is to explore Christ s cruel death and miraculous resurrection. But for every parent who believes that Christ is risen indeed, there is Mission Accomplished. 

Fourteen theologically rich yet kid-friendly devotions connect well-known Easter stories to the overall biblical message of redemption. 

Starts with the Passion Week and extends into the week beyond Easter Sunday, walking kids through the immediate aftermath of the resurrection and then unpacking the implications of Jesus death and resurrection for our own lives. 

Great for busy parents and families, each day’s core devotion can be completed in just ten minutes.

Family activities are included to give parents options for helping kids of all ages to understand and apply Easter truths and can be completed in an additional ten minutes. 

Full text of classic hymns for your family to sing in worship.

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