If you watched Sesame Street as a child, you know a big part of the show is music.
Sesame Street has been producing songs for the past 50 years. It first aired in 1969. The television show went on to redefine how you could use TV and music to teach kids.
Sesame Street's strategy of using music to teach kids proved a success. How did they do it? They wrapped educational learning with catchy songs.
With Sesame Street's musical success came a long list of stars that made guest appearances. Stevie Wonder with Grover. Loretta Lynn with the Count. Smokey Robinson with the letter U. Chance the Rapper with Elmo. The list goes on and on.
Sesame Street has proven that music can be lots of fun, while teaching children at the same time. The show has brought the musical and educational worlds together.
The writers and producers at Sesame Street also understand how today's kids are wired
"Little kids have short attention spans. If it's too talky, you're going to lose them. Christine Ferraro, Sesame Street writer."
Amen to that. If only churches could understand this concept, you'd have a lot more kids excited about coming to church, rather than staring at the clock, waiting to break free.
The song writers of Sesame Street write songs that are "catchy." The goal is to hear kids humming the song that week.
Once a song is written for Sesame Street, it must pass the kid test. Sherman, who is one of the song producers for the show, takes the demo tape home and has his two daughters, 6 and 8 years old, listen to it. Sherman watches their response and listens to see if they are humming or singing the tune after the show is over. If the kids aren't singing or humming the song afterwards, then he will usually throw it away and start over.
There are several things we can learn from Sesame Street in the area of music for children at church.
Let's look at a few ideas and strategies and see what we can use for our ministries.
We need to stop trying to get kids to sing "adult" songs. One trend I have noticed over the past 5 years is worship leaders trying to lead kids to sing worship songs that were written for adults. Choosing songs that are "too long" and "boring" for kids. The result? Kids just stand there because many of the songs are over their head. Whatever happened to fun songs that engaged kids? Songs like "Every Move I Make" and "I Get Down and He Lifts Me Up" and "Jesus Be the Center." Yes, these songs are older ones, but at least kids will sing them instead of standing there trying to decipher songs that are not composed or written with them in mind.
If Big Bird and the Grouch and Elmo can use music to impact kids with earthly knowledge, then how much more should we be commited to impacting kids with songs that bring glory and honor to our eternal Father.
Your turn. What are your thoughts about today's worship for kids? Is it working? Does it need to be changed? Is it fine the way it is? Share your insight in the comment section below.