MSM’s Children in Worship camp teaches kids what worship is all about

Children from the three Annual Conferences with CIW instructors
Children from the three Annual Conferences with CIW instructors

“Worship is an expression of reverence, obedience and gratitude towards God; it is about praising and serving the Almighty God every day. Ultimately, worshipping God is about wholeheartedly seeking to glorify and honour him for all that he has done.”

This reflection was shared by 12-year-old Sahana Lenin, a participant at the Children in Worship (CIW) camp that took place during the March school holidays. The two-day camp, organised by the Methodist School of Music (MSM), is targeted at primary school-aged children, and part of a monthly programme that runs throughout the year.

The camp is not like other vacation Bible schools or regular church camps, for its objectives are wholly focused on Christian worship—teaching the right posture of worship, from a position of obedience, in a safe environment of fellowship. But more than that, CIW seeks to gather children who worship in Methodist churches across the three Annual Conferences and raise a generation of children in unity

The 41 participants, ranging in ages from 6 to 12, will be equipped in the year-long cultivation of disciplines such as praying, giving thanks, seeking forgiveness, and journalling.  With milestones dotting the calendar—including an exhortative dedication at Aldersgate Sunday in May and equipping at the Worship Symposium run by MSM in September—these children will get to try their hand at preparing the liturgy of the CIW Closing Service in November.

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(top left) Ann Palaruan demonstrates dance movements (right) Amelia Leo leads the children through a time of pondering about what it means to worship on Sundays and in our daily life (above) Children co-creating a rhythm gleefully with musical notes, symbols and word syllables

Returning for the second year of CIW, Sahana, who worships at Seletar Tamil Methodist Church, said, “The CIW camp has been a very eventful experience for me. Not only did the camp change my perspective towards worship, but it also helped me to understand the true meaning of worshipping God.”

The children began each day with a time of preparation, seeking an understanding of worship. With a heart filled with praise, the song of preparation was sung:

Come into God’s presence saying Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Learning to write simple tunes

In the immersive gamified programme, children were thrilled to be presented with an adventure map designed to chart their discoveries in the four domains of melody and singing, movement, rhythm and global music. Landscapes depicted in the game segments brought attention to the heartfelt worship of a glorious God, inspired by Psalm 98:7-8, “Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who dwell in it! Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together.”

To teach rhythm, animal names were integrated with musical notation and brought to life a “Rhythmic Zoo”. It made for a dynamic and humourous encounter that all the children loved.

Then the children were immersed in a whole-body experience, engaging in a repertoire of dance movements led by Ann Palaruan, an experienced liturgical choreographer. The excitement and jovial exhilaration reverberated in the waves of laughter as children moved to music.

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(top right) Children working together to solve a puzzle (above) Dr Judith Laoyan-Mosomos leads in a rhythm exercise

The singing segment included the scientific exploration of diaphragm muscles in choral breathing, with the children testing out the range of their vocal abilities. The global music segment saw the children play with percussion instruments from around the globe, and, were able to perform an instrumental piece within 30 minutes of instruction!

Mithilesh Saravanan, 12, from Seletar Tamil Methodist Church, who participated in the camp with his sister and cousins, said, “We learnt how to worship God by singing praises and playing various musical instruments. I also learnt how to create a new song for God and presented it in the camp. The experience enabled me to feel God’s love in my heart and get closer to him spiritually.”

A choral finale

The camp culminated in a resounding choral item, containing liturgical elements of praise, prayer, proclamation and promise curated from the four groups. They admired the many parts of rhythm, lyrics and melody of the final product.

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands!
Give thanks to the Lord for he is good!
Create in me a clean heart, O God!
We sing, we share, we serve, and care!

Sahana concluded, “To cultivate a heart of worship in God, we must read the Bible and pray regularly.” Indeed this is true not just for these children, but for all children of God.

Eden Lok worships at Aldersgate Methodist Church and serves in the Children’s Ministry and Youth Ministry (Youthphoria). He captains the 33rd Juniors Boys’ Brigade company and is currently pursuing a Bachelor in Early Childhood Education. / Photos courtesy of Eden Lok