KidTunz

Songs for Kids to Grow On!

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History Behind the Hymn: “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”

The great hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” depicts a rich understanding of God forged through times of loss and loneliness. The hymn’s lyricist was a native of Dublin, Ireland, a man named Joseph Scriven (1820-1886). This is part of his story.

After graduating from Trinity College, he greatly anticipated the day that he and his long-time love would be married. She was his childhood sweetheart, and all of the wedding preparations were made. The day before the wedding, however, tragedy struck. While riding to meet him, the young woman’s horse was startled by something, throwing the her into the river nearby. The impact knocked her unconscious and she drowned shortly before Joseph arrived to meet her.

After this tragic loss, Joseph was troubled by the sight of his home in Ireland, and soon left for Ontario, Canada where he spent the rest of his days in Port Hope. He devoted himself to good works and to caring for others in the village, being known as someone that never turned away those in need that could not repay him.

Eventually, he began tutoring the children of a man in town, and in the process, fell in love with the man’s niece, Eliza. The two planned to be married in 1854, but shortly before, Eliza fell sick with pneumonia, passing away at the age of 23. Once again tragedy invaded Joseph Scriven’s life, as the hoped-for marriage day never came.

Throughout the struggles and loss of his life, Scriven continued to find solace in the nearness of God, whom he described as his closest friend. It is unclear as to when the lyrics he penned were put to music, as he initially sent them in a letter to his mother, intending that they be seen only by her.

His words remind us that though life is challenging and often painful, we have someone with us that is a dearer friend than any human ever could be, sustaining us and remaining close to us through it all.

Remembering his story can give us and the children in our lives faith to persevere and to serve others in need in every season.

Lyrics

What a friend we have in Jesus,

All our sins and griefs to bear!

What a privilege to carry

Everything to God in prayer!

Oh, what peace we often forfeit,

Oh, what needless pain we bear,

All because we do not carry

Everything to God in prayer.

 

What a Friend We Have in Jesus

 

 

Guest Post: Setting Your Volunteers Up For Fall Success

children in the fall with leavesFall is a great time of year. School is in session in the US. Children and their families are finishing their summer travels. New people are moving to your area. It is a time of growth for your church, but it can also be a pinch for children’s ministry leaders. More people attending means the need for more volunteers.

When faced with a need for more volunteers, the first thought is to recruit. Before you put effort into recruiting, take a look at how you can expand the volunteer base you have. It may surprise you at the opportunities you find.

 

Revisit the Frequency Your Volunteers Are Serving

If a volunteer only serves once a month, ask them to serve twice a month. If they serve

twice a month, could they serve weekly? An increase of 50% goes a long way.

 

Expand the Roles Of Current Volunteers

Look for complementary volunteer roles that one volunteer could fill. Example: Have parents drop kids off in their small group or class area. This way teachers can greet parents or greeters can serve as security during the service.

 

Create Opportunities For Leaders To Help

Create leadership positions in your ministry. Give seasoned volunteers new roles. Have them recruit, train, and minister to the new volunteers. Allow your leadership to help you can expand the volunteer base in a more organic way.

 

Ask For Temporary Season of Dedicated Ministry

Ask infrequent volunteers to dedicate a season (3-9 months) of consistent service. Having a definite end point will be encouraging to volunteers. Most like it so much they continue to serve even when the season is over.

 

How do you do this?

By connecting with these volunteers and asking them. Nothing fancy. You get to know the volunteer and ask why they serve in the pattern they serve. Many will have good reasons. Their spouse serves in another ministry who kept a similar schedule. Or they travel a lot and can only commit to that much. But many would say this is how they always served. No one asked them to do more. Of people serving in 2014, 41% did so because someone in the organization asked them.

Volunteers who already understand your vision will welcome another chance to serve. Sometimes all they need is for you to give them the opportunity.

 

In the Ministry Accelerator community, we discuss ministry design, best practices, digital tools and volunteers. Join us today. Email [email protected] and put “I want to join” in the subject line.

Music as an Effective Discipleship Tool for Children

Music can serve as a lifelong discipleship tool. Research demonstrates that musical training can increase children’s working memory capacity. And the repetition, rhyme and rhythm of songs combined with the brain’s plasticity during childhood can cause songs to stay with children long into adulthood. The ways people use and access music have shifted with the increasing availability of music online, including how people incorporate music into the church.

Below is an interview with composer John Morton, who has written, produced and published hundreds of children’s songs for curricula for companies such as Standard Publishing and Group Publishing. He is also the co-founder of the nonprofit, EduCAN Development Corporation, and has been invited to various countries throughout East Africa to train teachers in child development.

We sat down to discuss the music trends he’s observed over the years and how children’s ministry leaders can use music to effectively teach children biblical principles.

A: What are some shifts or trends you have observed in how children’s church leaders use music?

One thing I’ve observed is that there is no longer a common set of songs that children know and sing across many different churches and regions. You can’t assume children know particular songs now because there are so many for leaders to choose from, as well as so many more ways to find songs than in the past.

Another would be an increase in leaders using adult worship songs in kids’ ministry services. Leaders do have more songs to choose from this way, but adult songs can be less effective in terms of discipleship, since so many of them contain a lot of metaphors and abstract concepts that children do not yet have the cognitive ability to understand.

A: Oh, I hadn’t considered that. So, how would kids’ comprehension of songs be different between preschool and elementary school?

In preschool, children are not able to understand abstract ideas, so it is important to sing songs that include very concrete and literal language. The songs should include repetition, easy melodies and simple lyrics that connect children with sensory details of biblical stories. What did characters see or touch? The kids may be able to sing more complex tunes, but the key is to sing songs that they actually understand. Checking in by asking questions about what they think a song is about is a good way to measure whether it’s a good fit for them.

A: And elementary school?

Kids begin to understand more abstract concepts at around the ages of seven or eight , but there is still a large gap between early elementary and late elementary in terms of cognitive development. In early elementary, simpler songs are still the best way to engage the children, but as they get older, children develop a wider vocal range and more complex vocabulary, and can therefore sing songs with more complexity in terms of structure, melody and content.

Just like speaking and reading, singing can provide children with opportunities to develop their language abilities, as they interact with teachers and peers and use words to communicate meaning.

It’s not as common as it used to be in churches, but using simple rhythm instruments during worship or class time can further engage the children as well. They can keep time with woodblocks, rhythm sticks, or instruments of their own making, keeping their minds, mouths and hands fully engaged throughout the songs.

A: Early middle school is sometimes considered to be part of children’s ministry; would music change much between late elementary and middle school?

In early middle school, kids begin to exert more independence, entering the more “grown up phase.” They may not be as enthusiastic about the sillier songs as they were before and it is important for leaders to consider the fact that young boys’ voices are changing when they choose a song’s key. By middle school, the students can begin worshipping Jesus from their own hearts, so leaders could even ask them for input as to what songs they would like to sing.

A: How do you think children’s ministry leaders can help teach kids what it means to worship Jesus from their own hearts?

When teaching children how to worship, it is most important to convey what worship i s , and not necessarily what it is “supposed” to look like . Worship is ascribing worth to God, and it can take many forms. Children may have ways that they like to worship God that might look different than adults. Allowing them freedom to express what is in their hearts for God in their kid-like ways teaches them about having a heart for God and not necessarily just doing church-like things.

Modeling life with Jesus is very important, as is living in community. It is important to keep in mind, though, that discipleship is not about enculturating kids or showing them how to simply fit-in with the rest of the church-goers. It is about teaching them who God is, what he has done for them and what it means to have a relationship with him, which includes expressing their hearts in worship.

A: Any last parting thoughts?

Just one thing. Worship styles come and go, but the fact that music enables kids to memorize principles and verses will stay the same. The heart of worship stays the same. The purpose of kids’ church is to train children to know and love Jesus, and that is the most important thing.

Meet a KidTunz Composer: Sarah Moore

Picture of Sarah Moore, KidTunz Composer

 

Sarah Moore is a producer, composer and vocalist based out of Orlando, Florida. She has written over 500 songs, composing for companies such as Music Precedent, Strang Communications/Charisma Life Publishers, Integrity Music, The American Bible Society, Gospel Publishing House, and Radiant Music.  She’s worked as the vocal contractor and director for Walt Disney World and as the children’s choir director for the PBS show, “Dooley and Pals”.

This week we checked in with Sarah and loved hearing about her composing, breaking into song with her sons, and what she’s been working on lately.

 

How did you first begin writing songs?

I guess I was always writing songs in my head, but I didn’t start writing them down until I was in college.  My first songs were about breakups and relationships. Then, I wrote Contemporary Christian songs that I sang for the church.   I didn’t start writing for children until after I had kids.

 

How do you think your songwriting has changed over the years?

This is an interesting and thought-provoking question.  Specifically dealing with children’s music, many things stay the same…but I have noticed a trend towards more intricate rhythms which I love.  When children around the world can sing the music from Disney movies word for word, with all the notes and difficult rhythms spot on…we need to up our game and give them something that excites them, even if there is also challenge involved.

“We need to up our game and give them something that excites them, even if there is also challenge involved.” – Sarah Moore

 

What is a creative way for a family or ministry to incorporate music into their day/service?

I made up tons of songs to sing with my boys.  We had a song to teach them their address, and a song we sang whenever we were going someplace in the car that incorporated our destination or who we were going to see.  We still break into that one every once in a while just for grins.

 

If you could give those who work with children one thing, what would it be?

Don’t underestimate what you have to offer the children.  You may not be a professional singer, but they just need to see that you enjoy singing.  If it seems like fun for you, they will be drawn in. (Click to Tweet) 

 

What is a project you’ve been working on these days?

I’m creating a Spanish version of 5 Christian children’s songs I produced in English for a client last year. He put the songs on Youtube and has had so much international attention that he decided to have the songs translated and go back into the studio.

 

 

We’re so thankful that Sarah has chosen to invest her musical ability and creativity into building up the next generation. Can’t wait to see what she’ll create next. For now, though,  here are some of Sarah’s greatest KidTunz songs!

 

“Firm Believers”

“Firm believers, standing strong on faith.
Firm believers, exercise is what it takes
To build up those muscles of spirituality.
Firm believers, that’s what we wanna be.”

 

“Construction Zone” 

“Welcome to a work in progress. You’ve enterd a construction zone.
We’re building on a firm foundation, but not with brick and stone.
Jesus is the model of perfection. His plans for us are divine.
So, welcome to a work in progress; building character in our lives…in our lives.”

 

“Treasures of the Nile” 

“See God’s plan through history. Everything we do He sees.
He empowers, acts and saves. He’s involved in our lives everyday.

Come join the caravan. Travel to an ancient land.
Explore Egyptian style, treasures of the Nile.”

 

“Espíritu Santo”

“Santo Espíritu, bello regalo de Dios
Guiado por tu luz, serviré al Señor
Ven a mí y lléname,
Yo quiero el poder qu s”lo Tú me das,
Santa Espíritu
Si pido hoy, Tú me das, si yo busco, hallaré
Y si golpeo, se rá abierto,
Tu Espíritu llenará me alma.”

“The Fruit of the Spirit Grows in Me”

“I wanna show God’s love, joy and peace,
Patience, kindness, I want more of these.
Goodness, faithfulness, that’s my goal. I’ll have gentleness and self-control.”

 

See her complete list of KidTunz songs here!