Are We Too Cool to Care?

I’d like to ask a question for some honest reflection – and ask readers to be reflective, not defensive, because this is an issue that I have seen all over the country and was brought to my attention via an e-mail via facebook today. I have removed all personal information and name of church and some other details to protect both the person who sent it and the church they are talking about:

Karl,

Overall we really like the children’s ministry at our church. One area of concern, though, is the music played before, during, and after the children’s large group time. Basically, it’s often rock or heavy dance music and it’s played REALLY loud. I’ve talked to the children’s staff a few times and they seem to think it’s fine.

This past Sunday I was helping out and a kid in my group was autistic – the music was really overpowering to him and later when I mentioned that to one of the kids’ staff, they said that special needs kids could wait in the hallway during singing if the music bothered them. What?? I was shocked. Why not just turn it down?

Anyway, I wondered if you have any thoughts about children’s ministries today wanting to be “cool” and “digital” and “relevant” at all costs – because that is the type of ministry our church is running. Attempts to talk to them are fruitless, because the gap between their viewpoint and ours is so wide. No progress is made.

And yet they consistently talk about how much they love kids and want to reach them for Jesus – but the words and deeds don’t seem to match up.

(reposted with permission)

I think this concerned parent has a very valid concern. How can we claim to love kids and be so indifferent to the needs of children? Why must music be so stinkin’ loud at church? I’m blessed with 50% hearing, but most kids are not. I’m often appalled at how loud music is played at some churches. Is that really necessary? Does God need it that loud to hear our worship? Wouldn’t he rather hear the kids voices anyway? (I’m having a little fun here!)

But seriously, I have been in many children’s ministry situations where the people on stage were so “into” their performance on stage they couldn’t even see children covering their ears and in many cases even crying in the front row! I’ve been a speaking at places where children were sitting outside because the music was PAINFUL to them, and the “rock star” worship leaders were oblivious that they were not connecting with the kids because they could only see the “sea” of kids moving and jumping – and could not see the individual kids who were hating it. And when I tried to talk to them about maybe playing “kid appropriate music” the answer was, “they love it.” One older Godly lady said (just to me), “Well, they’d love drugs too, but we don’t give them drugs.” That was a little harsh, but she had a point. Just because kids love something – isn’t an argument for doing it.

What do YOU think? Do you think we have gone too far in the rock n’ roll worship music? Have we lost the innocence of children’s music so they have nothing to look forward to as a teenager? Do you miss kids songs, the fun, the lyics, the motions, the silliness?

I can tell you, when I lead music with my guitar – I lead “old style” and the kids love it and often tell me they prefer it – and it is requested all the time over the big bands and and rock n roll, even though they “love” that too. And I have NO musical talent! I’m a 3 chord (D, A & G) guitar player! But I can jam and sing all the classics super fast and super sloooooow and silly and then worshipful and reverently. I don’t use CDs or a backup band, and the kids worship from their heart. But that’s just when I lead. I often delegate that and then my team has used CDs, and I’m not against that at all. I’m just asking about the volume and if you think sometimes it gets out of hand in some venues.

This email today, made me want to ask what you think??

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13 Comments:

  1. Karl,
    I do agree with you. I guess maybe because I’m a bit conservative in my music tastes, I don’t use a lot of wild music. I do mix up my use of dvd’s (uncle charlie, mostly) and playing my guitar(same thing 3 chords, LOL!) I sometimes don’t use music and just sing!
    It’s all mainly about the heart of worship to steal a line from a song.
    But what happened in the story above is terrible and should not be allowed to continue. If we are so into performance we have lost our focus and need to stop and reconsider what we are doing. We need to make sure that everyone we minster has an opportunity to worship. Sounds to me like some people need to do a “heart” check!

  2. I am struggling with this in our children’s program. Most of our children (and their families) have never been to church before, or only rarely. They don’t know the old songs and neither do most of our workers. We play Christian Worship music and it does get loud sometimes. We meet in a gymnasium so there is plenty of room for kids to “get away” from the loudness if they desire. But when we play softer, slower music the kids don’t engage. We have tried both. We do try and incorporate some of the older kid songs when they are appropriate. Currently we are doing a version of “I am a C-H” that is pure silliness, but the kids love it.

    We have around 50 kids each Sunday, of those we have about 5 that are autistic/special needs. I can’t find a balance between meeting their needs and keeping the other 45 kids engaged. We are considering a separate room, but don’t have the space or the volunteers right now to do that.

    We are a church plant and we choose our music style by surveying the population around our plant. They overwhelming listen to rock music, thus the louder style music.

    I don’t know how to win this battle, but then how do you win any?

    Still searching….
    Becky

  3. Karl, I think it depends on the church.
    I have been in churches, where the music was too loud in the Adult Service, and also in the Children’s Service.
    Then I have been in churches, where the music is at an appropriate level.

    Sometimes we need to turn it down.
    God wants us to worship Him in silence, otherwise we cannot hear him.
    Kids now are bombarbed with sound. Nintendo’s, iPods, Music in the Car, TV is on the whole day, even no one is watching, eating in front of the TV, and then at church too.

    We need to teach the kids to be silent sometimes.

    Even my daughter sometimes does not want it quiet.

    Just saying.

  4. Whatever happened to Psalm 43:10 – BE STILL and KNOW that I am God. Have we lost that? It’s more like ROCK OUT and know that I am God now.

  5. Our program uses CDs in K-3rd and a live band in 4th and 5th. We used to have a live band for all of elementary and met in the old sanctuary. Because the sound guys liked to really turn it up, we set a standard for how loud it could actually get and used a decibel meeter to make sure that even if it sounded fine to them, it really was at an appropriate level.
    We have several autistic kids in our program, and it seems like each one needs something different. Some of them do fine in the worship setting because they’re familiar with what happens. Others need to sit at the back of the room and just watch, and one occasionally sits in the hall with a teacher, playing a game during worship time. I don’t think use of CD/live band/just a guitar makes a difference–my experience with kids has shown that they can get just as loud with any form of music.
    One of our more severely autistic kids has a high sensitivity to noise, but wants to still participate, so he wears noise reducing headphones during worship time.

  6. We use dvds for praise and worship. We have several special needs kids in our ministry as of late, due to the simple fact that we do what we can to accommodate ALL children into our class. One young boy is sound sensitive so the noise reducing headphones are a great idea, but we also know to check the noise level with a db meter. Most churches don’t understand that anything over 85 db for an extended period of time can cause hearing loss/damage. I’m definitely not against fast paced modern music, because it does get the kids excited. Just keep it at an appropriate level.

  7. I’m really appreciating the feedback – and the original writer has replied to me and expressed her thanks as well. I think the sound meter in sound booth is an excellent suggestion for accountability on volumes. I’d never heard of sound reduction headphones! Great one. And of course, variety is the name of the game (just like in Big Church) so there is a little something for everyone. Keep it coming folks, appreciate the input. This is a good topic.

  8. Thank you for using my email, Karl, to start this important discussion. I wish more people spoke up about it. When I have mentioned the volume level of music in the kid’s ministry to other adults (not staff), inevitably they agree (Oh yes, it is too loud) but I’m the only one (or one of the few) who actually contacts the people in charge to say something about it.

    To Becky, I think it’s fine to play the fast, exciting songs and not just slower ones…it’s all about the volume, not just the type of music. As long as the volume is appropriate, the faster songs are fine.

    I’m going to be praying for the staff at my church that God will really open their eyes. I’m not a huge fan of “What Would Jesus Do” but in this case I think I can safely say that He would not send the special needs children into the hallway during worship time.

  9. One of the things we strive for in our church, including in our CM is to reduce the distractions when it comes to worship. If we find the volume or style of music becomes a distraction then we change it. This can become complicated since everyone is different.

    There seems to be 2 different issues going on in this post. One is over music volume and the other is balancing the needs of individuals and the masses.

  10. I know the temptation to crank it up comes from getting the more disruptive kids attention. If it is so loud, they cant talk to each other and hear!

    We have a dyslexic child, and he too is very sensitive too lots of things, like tags on his clothes and loud music, to a lesser degree.

    I think alot of it comes from our attittude as worship leaders. Kids woften worship God using energy, but this doesn’t have to be strictly loud rock music. Given some teaching and encouragement, many kids will pour their hearts out to him during quiet reflective times too. I have seen the normaly disruptive kids lookign in awe at kids worshiping in a quiet manner, not daring to be disruptive at that moment. Of course I chalked it up to a miracle.

    Our rule has been if I see a kid wiht his hands on his ears or one comes and tells me or another adult it is too loud, we turn it down, because they are most likely right!
    .-= Marty´s last blog ..Developing the hidden talents in your children =-.

  11. My goal is to see all my kid’s entering into a personal time of worship with the God that created them. Wether that is through using CD’s Worship videos, a film about the crucifiction, or a time of silent prayer, I want to see a revival break out in our church, and I would like it to start in our kid’s ministry, as the Holy Spirit leads us. 2 Timothy 3:15

  12. AMEN! Charles!

  13. Brittany Cottle

    I use music in my ministry. I think a good rule is if you can’t hear the person next to you it’s to loud. We use music when kids are entering the room. We play fun kid friendly Christian songs. We play praise and worship songs that are for kids during our worship time. We play some that are loud and fast and some that are soft and slow. Some of our songs have hand motions and some don’t. We use puppets for some of the songs but not all. We also play fun music during our games. The majority of the kids like the music and ask what song we are playing and were they can buy it.
    Now with all that being said, we have had some kids that just had a hard time with music. It was to stimulating for them. Or they were sensitive to sound. We had a leader that would take that group out during worship and games. Every child is different and their needs are different. The key is to find a way to ministry to everyone.

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