** See the PDF downloads at the end for your own free copies of the directions for many of these worship stations. Thank you Laura for all of your hard work!
As anyone who serves in children’s ministry knows, every kid has different ways that they learn and connect with God best. Some kids are great at sitting and listening to a lesson and soaking up all the knowledge that we try to impart to them- but that’s not the majority of kids in my experience.
What are Worship Stations:
If I ask some of my past kids about the things that they remember about our kids’ church, they most often talk about times we did something different. They talk about times we were actively learning through games, experiments, acting stories out, but also about times they had personal encounters with God as they tried new interactive ways to pray and worship Him. It especially excites me to hear them talk about the moments they had in prayer and worship, as one of my goals for our ministry is to create spaces where the kids can encounter God and where the Holy Spirit is given space and time to move and speak into their lives.
We teach our kids that it is important to respond to what God has said to them- whether it was said through a teacher, from the scriptures that were read that morning, or by the stirring of the Holy Spirit- we should always bring a response to God. Basically, we are allowing them to process what they just heard. Sometimes this is a quiet moment of reflection and personal prayer where they are sitting, but we also like to use what we call worship response, or prayer stations.
These stations allow kids to respond by actively moving, using props and tools, and activities to take their minds further into the concepts and truths that were taught and how they apply to their lives. (A worship station is very similar to a prayer station, the only difference being that a prayer station is directing you to prayerful responses while a worship station is often more a prompt to think about who God is and then a suggested worship action to respond.)
One of my kids’ favorite response methods is called our “Dear God” wall. It literally is just a wall with a sign on it that says “Dear God” with baskets full of sticky notes and pencils. After a lesson, we will put on some worship music and kids move to the “Dear God” area and write or draw their prayers and worship to God. (They are instructed ahead of time that this is a time meant between you and God, so no talking or distracting each other- it works most of the time.) I love reading through the things they have written there as they share their hearts with the Lord- from simple praise like “God is osm” (osm= awesome – don’t you just love kids’ spelling!), to things like “God You are my shield from sin.” I’m always amazed when I see the evidence of how God is reaching their hearts! Here’s a picture of some of their responses:
Sometimes we will give the kids a few options of how they can make a response, with different types of stations available. If we are doing it in direct response to a lesson that was taught that day, I usually only give two options at most, but sometimes I like to give an extended time of response and reflection by having multiple prayer stations. I will often do this kind of thing at the end of a teaching series as a way for them to actively review and respond to the whole theme of the series.
We recently finished a series with our elementary kids (grade 1-5) called “God Is… I Am” looking at some of the attributes of God and what those attributes mean about who we are. Our kids spent an entire morning worshipping God at different stations that brought them back to the concepts and truths we had been talking about. Unfortunately, I was teaching a different class the day they did this so I missed seeing the kids actually using them, but my team told me that after they had all rushed around to see everything they could do, they settled into each activity and enjoyed taking time at each station. I also received a lot of great feedback from parents about how much their kids enjoyed the day- so obviously some of it stuck!
(I have been doing worship, prayer, and response stations with kids for many years, so though many of the ideas I’m sure I gleaned from surfing Pinterest, most of the following are either things I’ve used over the years and cannot recall a source, or ideas I’ve come up with as I consider my theme and look at the supplies I have on hand. I have tried to give credit where I could identify a source for my ideas.)
Examples of Worship Stations:
Forever King Worship Station:
We learned about How God is the Eternal King, that He is a good King who cares for His people. This station was inspired by a free coloring book I found at Ministry to Children years ago. You can find it here: https://ministry-to-children.com/bible-coloring-pages/gospel-coloring-book/
I simply took each page of the book, colored it, and posted it on the wall. The questions from the poster asked, “Who is my King? Why do I need a King? What makes Jesus the best King? How do I follow Jesus as my King?” Once again, I was amazed at the answers the kids wrote to these questions!
Also, the instruction poster reminded them of a worship song we have been singing throughout the series called “King of My Heart” by Cool Kids Worship that I found on the Big Big Worship site: https://bigbigworship.com/search?q=king+of+my+heart
God is Creator Worship Stations:
We learned about how God is the Creator, and how we are His masterpiece created for good works. We had three stations around this idea- as always the playdough one was the biggest hit with the kids. My team said they came up with some amazing creations.
We also talked about how God didn’t just create us and leave us on our own, but how He is present and involved in our days. Drawing from Psalm 139 we had kids put sand into a vial that they could take home to remind them that God’s thoughts of them outnumber the grains of sand. (This was surprisingly less messy than I anticipated it to be!)
Good, Good Father Worship Station:
This was an easy station for remembering the lesson about God as our Father. I had both the older and younger version of the book “Good Good Father” by Chris Tomlin and Pat Barrett on hand- add some pillows to make a cozy corner and spend some time with the Father.
Children of God Worship Station:
We learned about how we can become children of God, and all the amazing benefits we have a kids of the King. In this station kids read some words of identity and wrote what was meaningful to them. (I found this idea at http://vcckids.blogspot.com/2013/11/worship-response-stations-gods-family.html)
Jesus is our Rescuer:
We learned about how Jesus is our Rescuer. With this lesson, I pulled out a resource I created years ago as a way to tell God’s Epic Rescue story. I have used this for gospel lessons at camps and Easter services as well as it focuses on how Jesus rescued us from sin. Unfortunately I made this so many years ago that I can’t find the original file. Thank goodness I had laminated this all those years ago!
Kids used these signs and the prompts below to help them retell the epic story to each other. The prompts below contained questions to help jog their memory on the top sheet, and another sheet underneath with answers (which were good to have for the kids who missed the Sunday this was taught.) This station is a good one to have an adult team member there to help the kids as it’s more reading intense.
Free from Sin Worship Station:
This was the most popular station of the day- likely because they got to make a lot of noise! This station helped kids remember that because of Jesus, we can be free from sin and from the effects sin can bring into our lives. Kids would write their sin, worries, fears etc. on a balloon, pray to give it to God, then pop the balloon.
Mighty Warrior Worship Station:
We learned about how God is a Mighty Warrior and how He will fight for us- but sometimes His methods are nothing like what we expect. We dug into the story of Jehoshaphat for this one and learned about how the battle is the Lord’s, and how worship can be a weapon. This was a great station to again recall the victory we have in Christ.
God is Light:
We learned about how God is light and how Jesus brings light to the world and into our hearts. The signs are just the different verses we looked at during this lesson, and the kids simply stood and read them to a partner and then talked about which was their favourite or had the most meaning to them and why. This is also a station that should have an adult present to help with the reading.
The God is Light image in the center of the signs can be found HERE.
We are Christ’s Ambassadors:
The final stations reflected that we are Christ’s ambassadors. We talked about how we carry His light in our hearts, so that makes us “Ambassadors of Light.” The first station was simply four pieces of black Bristol board tacked onto the wall and kids prayed for people who need Jesus. The last station was simply a two-sided whiteboard in the middle of the room. We had talked about how when we speak truth from the bible or about God into dark circumstances, we bring His light into that darkness. This station was simply just writing things that are true about God.
Setting up Worship Stations:
We had these stations spread throughout our large group space and into three other classrooms that connect to the main room. Spreading them out allowed the kids to participate in each one without getting distracted by what other kids were doing at other stations. We had 15 stations and about 30 kids that day, so there was a lot of space for kids to move around without the stations getting crowded.
If you do something like this, you could play worship music in the background, but there was enough of a buzz happening in our space that we didn’t feel it necessary. An activity like this rarely goes the way you imagine it too- it can sometimes get rowdy so you need to use your judgement on whether to redirect the kids back to what’s at hand or to recognize that God is in that rowdiness. Sometimes the kids don’t read your instructions at all but still use what you have put out to worship God in really creative ways. Remember, the goal is not perfection but giving them space and time to encounter and respond to God in a way that makes sense to them.
This was an example of a larger, more “free range” response time, but response times can also be a more guided experience as well.
- We have done response time where kids will have been given a dirty rock to hold throughout the lesson as we learn about sin, and at the end they are invited to come and lay their rock down at the foot of the cross.
- We have had them partner up and pray with one or two other kids about the lesson.
- We’ve had them hold both hands out as if holding something in it, and praying to God about their trouble or fear, then they turn their hands over and give that to God- flipping their hands over again to receive what God has for them (often kids will give multiple things to God with this.)
Response doesn’t have to be complicated, but in my experience, if there is some physical action or a tactile experience to it, the kids just seem to respond so much more.
If you are new to the idea of response activities and worship/prayer stations, there are so many great ideas on Pinterest that can get your creative juices flowing. Take stock of what you have, consider your lesson theme, and ask the Lord to guide you in creating space, time, and activities for your kids to connect with Him.
This article was created by Laura Stacheruk. Laura is a farmer’s wife and a mother of two (almost) grown boys who live in Canada. She is currently the NextGen Pastor of Kids at the church she grew up in- Hillcrest Church in Moose Jaw, SK.