Teaching Kids to Sing
How do you get children to learn the alphabet? You sing it of course. What about learning counting? More songs. Colours of the rainbow? You guessed it – the answer is singing again.
Songs are a great way to convey important ideas or to help people understand and remember new information. In the church, we have sung Scripture and our theology for hundreds of years and it seems like the obvious thing to do when we come together.
“I believe that God the Father
Can be seen in God the Son,
In the gentleness of Jesus
Love for all the world is shown...”
What about when it comes to taking our faith to the outside world? The Salvation Army has a long history of using the musical styles of the day to reach out to “unchurched” people and tell them about God’s love. Whether that be the music hall tunes like Champagne Charlie, The Joy Strings and other beat combos of the 60s and 70s, or the musicals of Gowans and Larsson, we can see that popular music has been an effective way to package the message that God is not a distant, antiquated relic of a past way of life, but rather a living, breathing part of who we are as people – His people.
The Music and Creative Arts team here in the United Kingdom and Ireland Territory have been working on a project (unnamed at present) that will use pop music to reach children and teach them about the Army’s beliefs and values. Designed to be used in primary schools, kid’s clubs, Sunday schools, and online, the resource speaks to young people in a way that can be easily understood. It combines catchy pop-style songs, eye-catching lyric videos, and planned activities based on the theme of each song.
If we want to reach children and young people, then we need to go to where they are – schools! Here in England, 37% of our primary schools are church schools (attended by over 1.8 million children), and when visiting these schools, Salvationists are free to talk about their faith and use faith-based materials in assemblies and classrooms. We wanted to put something in the hands of people that go into these environments which veered away from confusing church language that we might use in worship and replaced it with a style of music that they are more often exposed to in daily life. My 6-year-old comes home from school having learnt Oh, Oh, Oh, How good is the Lord. He loves to sing it with the other kids, but once he’s at home, he’s not interested in listening to it. He’s listening to Havanna and Dance Monkey. Our new resource aims to be something that will fill the void between Christian music and chart pop for kids.
Whenever I feel like I need help,
Whenever I’m mad and want to yell,
Whatever my truth that I can tell,
Whatever I feel like, Jesus, I can talk to you.
I Can Talk to You
What about the other 63% of schools? We looked at school values from a variety of primary schools in England and Wales and found that many shared similar themes with the Army’s own values. As a response, half of our first volume of songs will be values-based. These are songs that express themes of thankfulness, diversity, caring for creation, and respect. In sharing our Christian values, we hope that we can help children to understand Christianity is something that they connect with, even if it is only in an initially simplified way.
If you’re big or if you’re small,
Just like me or not at all,
There’s something I can say to all,
And it’s true;
I’m happy you are you.
You Are You
We know that from some of our other resources that children often go home and search YouTube or tell Alexa to play songs that they have sung in sessions. We will be making our songs freely available on all major streaming platforms, and we hope that these songs will be a gateway for children to explore more about what they think and feel about big issues, ultimately exploring their own faith.
I ask that you pray for our new project, for those who work to share the message of God’s love with children and young people, and for the kids who find themselves singing our songs. May they be inspired to look inward and reflect on who they are and look upward to find who God is to them.