Recently I watched my 14-year-old son Alex Haywood help lead his youth group in worship as part of the REVO band. "Look mom, I wanted to fly off the stage because God's presence was so strong and all these kids have their faces down before God," he said as he pointed to the rebroadcast of the service online.
Tears came to my eyes as I watched him with his hands stretched out in worship as he encouraged his friends to love God and to worship. Alex also wrote a song, "Holy Fire," and spent extra time to arrange the music and mix it. His dream is to become a worship leader. Alex and his brother Chris could stay up all night writing worship songs.
Chris is 18 and is also part of the band. My 10-year-old daughter, D'Andra grabs a guitar at home and sings worship songs. And my 18-year-old niece, Erin Lynn is part of the worship team. How do you raise kids who love to worship and would rather go to church than go to the latest movies?
I believe God is raising up a new breed of worshippers that are going to blow away my generation. Alex and Chris belong to a group of youth that are passionate about Christ, led by a youth pastor, James Koppang, who would lay his life down for these kids. But I believe as parents we can encourage an atmosphere of worship at home or in the car that can help create children that love to worship.
If you want your children to become passionate worshippers, here are some things my husband, Jerome and I have done to help create that hunger.
Be a passionate worshipper yourself. We play lots of worship music at home and Jerome is a huge fan of the Desperation Band, Jesus Culture and other bands. I worship all the time at home singing songs to the Lord while washing the dishes or cleaning the house.
Seeing mom burst out in a psalm or song to the Lord is a regular occurrence for my kids. Dad is part of the choir and he loves to worship in church. Worship is a normal part of our life and not something we just do in church.
Join a church that values worship. Our senior pastor, Steve Gray, has the heart of a worshipper. My kids have grown up seeing him kneel before the Lord, step into leading a song that he wrote and composed or helping the worship team.
Their youth pastor, James, is also a fervent worshipper who is regularly up front pouring his heart out in worship. Having leaders that are worshippers themselves shows the value of worship to your kids. Since they are role models, it's natural that your kids have a desire to be like them as worshippers.
Encourage your children when they are toddlers to worship. Children naturally want to move, sing and dance. Instead of stifling that desire, channel it towards loving God. When Alex and Chris were toddlers, they would sing worship songs while I shopped at WalMart. Their little sister, D'Andra also breaks out into worship while we're shopping or hanging out at home.
Worship is a lifestyle of loving God. Imparting that lifestyle to your children will help them develop a relationship with God for life. Instead of singing secular songs with the spirit of the world, your children can have a lifestyle of attracting God's presence with worship.
Leilani Haywood is a Kansas City, Mo.-based award-winning writer and columnist. She has been published in the Kansas City Star, Metro Voice and other publications. When she's not updating her status on Facebook or Twitter, she's driving her three kids to school or their next rehearsal. Follow her on Twitter @leilanihaywood.