Kids’ Worship: The Church of Karaoke

16 Nov

(These are not our kids… but their expressions are pretty similar to the faces ours were making during the Karaoke Worship era)

Karaoke Worship

It feels like it was just yesterday that I walked into our church’s Elementary ministries program for the first time… and I still remember how odd the music time felt.  The church had shifted to a video curriculum and the kids simply stood there during the music time and watched music videos to songs that they had never heard of.  After a couple weeks of observing the program, I had the opportunity to join a group of our kids and parents on a trip to a nearby Christian winter camp.

I wasn’t shocked at what I watched: our church kids had no idea how to engage in live worship.  In fact, what shocked me was that they took naps, laughed at other kids, and basically boycotted the entire idea of singing along with the rest of the group.

I want to take a moment to say that I don’t think video curriculum led to this behavior.  I also want to say, for the sake of my friendship with Staci Travisano (@stacitrav), that I don’t think that Karaoke is all that bad.  What I think led to this behavior was the thought that something was better than nothing.

Our church made a move toward video curriculum during a time of transition.  The neat thing about video curriculum is that it can give you a ton of options for your programming.  The not-so-neat thing is that you can sometimes feel like you have to use everything you pay for… so, you just push play and let the dvd player do the ministry.

The result of a push-play ministry, for us, was a misunderstanding of worship.

We didn’t have someone on our volunteer team that had a heart for leading worship, and so we outsourced our music to a dvd player.  Our kids learned that worship was watching music videos and singing along if they felt like it.  It was like watching bad karaoke… like when you’re at a karaoke bar and you hear your name called, even though you didn’t put your name on this list.  You pretend to try to sing along because you feel like you have to… but everyone knows that you’d rather be anywhere else.  On Sundays, our kids would rather be anywhere else while music was playing.  And it broke my heart.

So… once I felt like I’d earned enough capital with our volunteer team and the key parents in our church, I killed off singing in our Elementary ministries on Sunday morning.  Tomorrow’s post will dive into that mess head first.

During this series, I’ll be covering our journey and will be open to opening up discussions as they arise.  Remember, you can always add your voice to the conversation by posting comments below, sending me a message on facebook ( or contacting me via twitter (


Posted by on November 16, 2010 in Uncategorized


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7 responses to “Kids’ Worship: The Church of Karaoke

  1. cheryl

    November 16, 2010 at 8:52 am

    Love this series, anthony! I am currently working through this very issue of how to change the tide from kids watching to actually participating in worship. Encouraging to know we will make it through!
    thanks so much! can’t wait to see tomorrow’s post!


    • Anthony Prince

      November 16, 2010 at 9:02 am

      I’m glad the series is helpful. It’s taken us a while to change the tide, but I think we’re getting there. Patience is key because it’s a heart issue, not a head issue.


  2. Kathryn

    November 23, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    Excellent! I agree 100% with you. We’ve also stopped doing “singing” for the very reasons you stated above. We want it to be about worship ~ not just singing empty words or being entertained by the video so we too are working our way through this. I whole heartedly believe that kids can “worship” and that will lead them into a real relationship with God. I look forward to digesting the series.



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