"Hey, James!" is a phrase often heard shouted across front yards and living rooms at The Church Without Walls, a small house church where I've led worship since 2006.
The adult-to-yard-runner ratio at Without Walls has always seemed a little less balanced than most churches - you'd think there were more kids than parents! The dynamic of having so many young ones in a house church type environment is unique, to say the least. You don't get swept away with the perfect ambience, the perfect song, the perfect sound system, the perfect voice - sometimes the guitar is drowned out by a screaming, hungry baby, or an argument between twin brothers who can't seem to share toys during worship.
I have a saying for moments like these - "no pressure, just opportunity."
Having your worship service seemingly overrun by a pack of kiddos is not adversity - it's responsibility. Responsibility for parents to show their children what family worship looks like. Responsibility for other members of the church body to come alongside parents to demonstrate community, love, and reverence for the presence of God. Responsibility for a worship leader to give everyone in the room a chance to learn, grow, and engage in real worship - even if a surprising number of people in the room happens to be under the age of seven.
I feel like I've had a knack for communicating with kids for years. Maybe it's my passion for their spiritual growth, or my eager attitude toward teaching, or the small part of me that refuses to completely grow up.
In the summer of 2014, I began writing some songs set aside specifically for the young ones. I have an unspeakable amount of respect for parents who are doing the best they can to raise Godly children in a world that seems more and more often to villainize Christian parenting practices. I want to do what I can to offer practical, empowering, educational, and encouraging songs to kids fighting increasingly uphill battles, and to their parents as well. While my first priority is always to teach, I'd like to think the kids are having fun while they sing along.