Leading a Children’s Worship Service

The key to easily leading a children’s worship service is to develop a pattern that works well for you. This pattern needs:

1. Consistency—those things you do every week, a general pattern that you follow which helps both your leaders and children to keep on track,

2. Variety—those things that set each session apart as special, unique and never the same-old-thing. Variety adds spice. These activities are a break from the norm. Each week, try to develop something fresh and new that is out of the ordinary. Many times this can be accomplished through an attention grabbing illustration, a girl vs. boy competition, a special guest, a special giveaway, a special snack, a special way in which you teach the Bible lesson, etc. Notice how many times you just read the word “special.” That’s what this variety does—It makes each session special. For example, if your kids are used to you giving out a sucker for the review questions, instead, call up a volunteer and hold a small water balloon over his head. If the group can answer the review question correctly, you will pop it over his head. This is not “normal;” this is “special.”

Consider the following sample children’s worship pattern and its combination of consistency and variety:


Kids need to be engaged from the moment they arrive. Video are great for this, so are video commercials of something coming soon in your ministry or pictures of the kids in your church at a recent event, etc. You could also have an activity for the children as they arrive. An entry activity avoids kids sitting in a room waiting to start because if you give the kids nothing to do, many of them will find ways to “entertain” themselves. An entry activity also puts guests at ease because it is better for them to enter the room and be engaged than to sit for five minutes feeling nervous and out-of-place.


Get the kids going in an interactive way that will introduce the your students to what they will be learning. If you are talking about “Joy”, for instance, ask the kids to call out the opposites of the words you say: Up (Down), Stand (Sit), Stop (Go), Short (Tall), Big (Little), Happy (Unhappy), Joy—Did anyone say “Un-Joy”? There’s no such thing as un-joy. You might say, ‘sadness,’ but joy is different than happiness and real JOY comes from Jesus.


A control tool is a re-focusing tool. It is a way of drawing children back into a small or large group discussion without having to say, “Listen up,” Hush,” or “Eyes up here,” and it is a great transition between activities. The most common and most effective control tool is any question you ask the kids to which they give a response. They might yell some responses, whisper others, and might even use an accent or a funny voice. Control tools re-focus the kids on the leader, teaches them an important point, and is a thousand times better and more effective than shushing your kids.

Sample Control Tools:

SAY—When I say, “Who should be number one in your life?” I want everybody to say, “Jesus!”

Or, Anytime I say, “J” (make the letter with your arms), you do the same. Then give me an ‘O’….give me a ‘Y.’ Everybody say, ‘JOY comes from Jesus!’

Other Samples:

-Leader–”God’s got a gift…” / Students–”For me and it’s free!”

-Leader–”The truth is…” / Students–”Jesus lives!”

-Leader–”What are you?” / Students–”I’m Special!”

-Leader–”Who does Jesus love?” / Students–”Meeeeeeeee!”

-Leader–”God’s got a call…” / Students–”For us all!”

-Leader–”What’s life all about?” / Students–”It’s all about Jesus!”

-Leader–”Big or small” / Students–”God cares about it all.”

-Leader–”God loves who?” / Students–”You!”

-Leader–”Keep your eyes on…” / Students–”Jesus!”

-Leader–”Have no fear…” / Students–”Jesus is near!”

-Leader–”Listen…” / Students–”And obey!”

-Leader–”Who is Jesus?” / Students–”Jesus is the way!”

-Leader–”Heyyyyy!” (“Hey,” just lengthened) / Students–”Hooooo!” (“Ho,” just lengthened) / Both–”Jesus is in my soul. Huh!” (With a kick on the “Huh!”)

Almost any key point can be turned into a control tool. Have fun with them. Include accents in them. Create some that are slow, some that are fast, some that are whispered, and some that are yelled. Have kids compete to see which side can be the loudest. Remember, an effective children’s ministry isn’t always a quiet children’s ministry. Or, have the boys verse the girls in a loudness competition. And you can also tell the kids that anytime you see them for the next month you might ask them the question of the month–i.e., “Who should be number one in your life?”

 You might even express it like this:

“You might be walking down the hall and suddenly I might be right there in front of you and I might ask you this question…You might be picking your nose and suddenly I might be right there in front of you and ask you this really important question…Or, you might be crawling out of the bathroom and suddenly I might be right there in front of you. I might even kneel down (kneel down in front of a girl and put my hands together and ask you this very, very important question…and no, it’s not, ‘Will you marry me?’ I’m going to say,  ’Who should be number one in your life? Jesus! Now, let’s have a boy verses girl competition to see who can say it louder. Are you ready, boys? Who should be number one in your life…”


The Welcome is also a great place to introduce your Verse for the Day, but how will the kids know what the key verse is? Will you have a Bible Drill to see who the fastest is or maybe a balloon that needs to be popped to reveal a piece of paper inside with the key verse on it, or maybe they have three choices to guess where you’ve hidden it, or maybe it’s hidden under somebody’s chair or taped to the ceiling or is on a poster on the wall. One week it might be a song that you teach them; the next week your volunteer might have to dig the verse out of a pile of shaving cream; the third week they might learn it using sign language. The consistence here is that you always have a main verse; the variety is how you present the verse to them.


Sing songs with hand motions, songs that your kids can enjoy and go home singing. Have fun! Don’t make this a music lesson, but teach your kids that singing for and to Jesus is a blast. The more you get into it, the more they will too. Be interactive. Kids need to learn to sing to God too, but not in a way they doesn’t connect with their age. Watch your group while you are singing. If they are not having a good time with it, then you need to change how or what songs you are doing. Good examples of songs that can have hand motions are: “Big House” by Audio Adrenaline, “Awesome God” by Rich Mullins, “Mercy is Falling” , “Get Down” by Audio Adrenaline and a whole bunch from Hillsong Kids (www.hillsongkids.com), Jana Alyra (www.janaalayra.com) and Seed Family Worship (www.seedfamilyworship.net).


Kids find comfort in knowing what is expected. Lead you kids in your rules every week, but for variety, change how you present the rules to them. For example, for six weeks you might use G.O.D.:

G-Give God your attention

O-Only get up if you have permission

D-Don’t be a “space invader”—you have your space and so does the person next to you, so keep your hands and feet to yourself.

Then you might change the rules to be C.O.O.L.:

C-Care about others (treat them right).

O-Only get up if you have permission.

O-Only use good words, here at church and everywhere you go.

L-Listen to what God has to say to you today.

Below are some more samples of simple ways to presents your expectations:


“Arrrrr” (said like a pirate)—Respect God

“Arrrrr” (said like a pirate)—Respect Each Other

“Arrrrr” (said like a pirate)—Respect Your Leaders


C—Care about others (treat them right).

A—Always do what you know is right.

R—Respect your leaders and obey them.

E—Everyday follow Jesus.


L—Listen for what God wants you to learn

O—Only get up if you have permission

V—Victory is only found in Jesus

E—Everyday live for God


G—Give God your attention

I—If you need something, raise your hand.

V—Value others (treat them right).

E—Everyday live for Jesus


L—Listen for what God wants you to learn

I—If you need something, raise your hand.

F—Follow Jesus every day

E—Everyone is special to God, so treat others the way you want them to treat you.


G—Give God your attention

I—If you need something, raise your hand.

F—Follow Jesus every day

T—Treat others they way you want them to treat you.


Each week call up three volunteers, one to help with the pledge to the American flag, one to help with the Christian flag, and one to help hold the offering bucket. Then ask the kids to hold up their Bibles if they brought them. Choose one volunteer to bring up their Bible and to help with the pledge to the Bible. Say, “Attention (arms to the side), salute (hand over heart or on the Bible pledge, holding out their Bibles in front of them with both hands), pledge.  (If you do not know these pledges, they can be found easily online.)

After saying the pledges, say, “Give our pledge-volunteers a hand.” Ask your offering person to stay with you up front. Then begin playing your offering song as kids bring up their offering and put them in the bucket. The offering song can be the same song each week. For years I have used “Joy, Joy, Joy” with different variations on the second verse, even letting the kids choose ideas for new ways to sing it. After a certain amount of time, your kids will know the song so well, that your music leader can begin it and then go out and hold the microphone in front different kids and let them lead it. After the offering, another consistent, weekly activity can be to teach them a quick reason why we give to God.


Every week let the Bible story be the hinge on which everything swings, but each week use variety in how you present the story. You can have volunteers to help act it out, or just a couple of volunteers that will wear wigs and repeat a couple lines after you, or maybe you can use everyone to make sound effects or to listen for certain words and to call-back an answer to you when they hear them. (For example, when you hear “Jesus,” say, “He’s the Best!”) Be creative and have fun. The Bible is the best book ever and is full of incredible teaching stories.


Use illustrations and activities that will communicate great teaching points, but remember with everything you teach, be sure to apply it to the children’s lives. If you are talking with the kids about dealing with anger, help them to understand things they can do this week to help live out what the Bible teaches.

Children only remember about 10% of what they hear and 20% of what they see and hear. But they remember around 80% of what they do. As you prepare illustrations to reinforce the point with which you want your kids to walk away, remember the best teaching allows the kids to: Find it. Taste it. Touch it. Make it. Know it. Grow it. See it. Show it. Live it!


Each week review the key verse, the Bible story, control tools, or other activities from the previous week. Ask about four or five questions. Give a sucker or another prize to each student who answers a question correctly.


Each week lead your kids in a prayer time but be creative in how to do this: One week you might have them all bow their heads and close their eyes. Then give them 20 seconds to think of something they are thankful for and to quietly tell God what it is. Then you finish by praying aloud. Another week, you might have one of your children pray. A lot of times kids will be more comfortable praying if you give them a suggestion of what to pray for. For example, “Johnny, today would you be willing to pray that God will teach us how we can be kind to each other.” On a different week, spin a globe and have a volunteer put his finger on it to stop it. Then pray for God to move in that part of the world. From time to time, you might lead your kids in a prayer. (NOTE: Do not lead younger children in a prayer for salvation. Talk with them one-on-one to make sure they understand before giving their lives to Christ.). For example, everyone say this to the Lord, “Dear Jesus…thank you for making everything…and thank you for making me…thank you for making me special…and loving me…You’re awesome!…In Jesus name…Amen.”

Help your kids to understand what prayer is, when they can do it (anytime), where they can do it (anywhere), even what posture they can be in (standing, sitting, hands up, hands down, kneeling, walking, eyes open, eye closed, eating, talking, picking your nose, head bowed, head up, headached…you don’t have be in a certain position for God to hear you…)


Choose one boy and one girl each week to receive the Good Listener award. This can be a ribbon or a coupon for an ice cream cone or something that ties into the day’s theme. During Christmas time, in children’s worship, we will many times use a Candy Cane to teach our kids how they can tell others about Jesus. We’ll send each child home with two candy canes: one for them and one for the friend that they will tell about Jesus. On these Sundays we give candy canes to those who answer our review questions and to the Good Listener, we give the biggest (and most affordable) candy cane we can find for being such good listeners.

Also be aware that many children in our culture today feel like they should get the same award that everyone else gets. This comes from the currently mentality that “everyone is a winner,” so whether you win or not, you’ll everyone will get the same award. Of course, you and I know that this is not the way that real life works at all. If you don’t do your job, as an adult, you don’t get the bonus that everyone else does—you get fired. If you don’t excel with your academics, you don’t get the scholarships and nobody is going to give it to you just because they want everything to be fair and equal and afraid that it might pinch your self-worth…you get the picture. So, with your kids, you will almost always have some that feel like they have a right to anything that someone else receives as an award. To combat this we frequently say, before giving out the Good Listener Award, that we rejoice and cheer on those who are doing well. And that when someone else gets something that we wanted, we don’t whine and complain; we’re happy for them just like we would want them to be happy for us. We also constantly remind our kids that only one boy and one girl can get the Good Listener Award, so if they don’t get it, it doesn’t mean that they weren’t a good listener—It just means that they were not chosen this week. Finally, we praise our kids for clapping and cheering on those who do get the award.


We have a Birthday Box with “birthday pencils” and sometimes some other prizes in it. At the end of children’s worship we ask all those who have had a birthdays in the past week to come forward, reach in the box, and they “get what they get and they don’t throw a fit.” Since we have different kinds of pencils we don’t want kids to take a long time trying to decide. We even hold the box above head-level, so they really don’t know what they’re getting. We tell all the kids, “On the count of three, wish these a happy birthday…1-2-3…Happy Birthday!” Then, if a child has his birthday on that day, we ask them to stay up front and we all sing a variation of “Happy Birthday” to them.


A few years ago, a dad caught me in the hallway after Sunday morning church. He said, “Yesterday we were at Six Flags and my son wanted to ride the roller coaster one last time. It was about an hour-long line so I told him that if we stayed to ride it again, we’d leave late and probably wouldn’t go to church the next day. He immediately said, ‘Then let’s go. I’m not missing Kid’s Church.”

In your children’s worship service you want the kids to learn but you also want them to have a great time learning. Keep it fun and fresh. Kids need and want consistency but inside your pattern you can have a spice of variety every week and a simple pattern like the one above is a great guide for developing your own style of a children’s worship service.


See above for a detailed description of each of the following.

  • Entry activity
  • Welcome
  • Introduce today’s theme
  • Introduce today’s control tool
  • Introduce today’s key verse
  • Songs
  • Kid’s Church Rules
  • Pledges
  • Offering
  • Songs
  • Bible Story
  • Game/Illustration #1 with Life Application
  • Game/Illustration #2 with Life Application
  • Review Questions from last week
  • Competition Songs
  • Game/Illustration #3 with Life Application
  • Game/Illustration #4 with Life Application
  • Conclude the Lesson and reinforce the life application for what you’ve been teaching.
  • Prayer Time
  • Good Listeners Award
  • Birthdays
  • Announcements
  • Snacks
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