As a teacher, I have a pile of books on my desk, a pile of books beside my bed and a pile of books in my car. I need to refer to my books all the time. One of my current ‘favourites’ is ‘Teaching Kids Authentic Worship; How to Keep Them Close to God for Life’ by Kathleen Chapman. If you are a Chaplain or an RE teacher and you haven’t glanced through this book recently, have another look.
As teachers, Chaplains and priests in schools, we hear the statistics all the time. Our students and young people are walking away from the church and their faith. Kathleen Chapman decided to seek out the ‘glue’ to stick our students and young people to Christ. She refers to it as ‘Spiritual Super Glue’ – something that will help children adhere to Christ no matter what they face. Kathleen writes, “Children deserve the opportunity to know Christ and His protective, unconditional love as they embark on this earthly venture called life.”
So what is this ‘glue’?
According to Kathleen Chapman, the answer is ‘Worship’. But wait – there is more! You see, Kathleen believes we need to clearly define what we mean by ‘worship.’ I love this quote from Kathleen. She writes, “Practising authentic biblical worship as God intended produces supernatural adhesive.” You see, according to Kathleen, if we worship God as intended and as the Scripture instructs, children will not walk away. And of course, true worship needs to be taught.
So here is a great way to open up this discussion in your classes, Chapel or church, or indeed, with your staff.
Ask everyone to write their own definition of ‘worship’. I would ask the students to then hand them in – with no names – and we could read and share and then compare!
This could be developed into an entire unit or a series of services at your school or church, as you explore and experience ‘worship’. Imagine learning about worship and learning from worship.
So how is your definition of worship coming along? Have you thought about it?
A.W. Tozer said, ‘Worship is to express in some appropriate manner a humbling but delightful sense of admiring awe and astonished wonder and overpowering love in the presence of … our Father which art in heaven.’
In the context of mental health and wellbeing for our students, we know that young people are suffering. Chapman claims that there is an urgency to ‘glue’ our students to God – our God who will love them and fill their emptiness with hope. She urges us – the teachers and Chaplains, parents and relatives, to make sure that we understand what true worship is so that we can teach this to our children. “Worship takes practice and discipline: it needs to be explained, demonstrated, and taught. At its very core, worship is our recognition of the greatness of God. All glory should be to Him alone.”
So, where do we start? Kathleen Chapman says that worshipping God isn’t possible without first knowing God. She encourages us to get our children absolutely fascinated by God. This is where the generations can work together! Start with the topic of God’s creation. If we simply say, ‘God created everything’ we are being too vague for children. Expand on the details and be specific, urges Chapman. Get in to the nitty gritty of the atmosphere from clouds to planets. Find amazing facts about earthquakes and volcanoes, plants and animals and all things natural. As we teach our students about Creation, let our lessons and messages reflect our adoration and awe for God. Let our faces light up with joy as we explain about the mysteries and majesty of Creation.
Here is a super idea developed by Kathleen Chapman, to foster worship in your church or school. It is called the ‘God Wall Challenge’ and involves all members of your community. The idea is to make a wall of all the names given in the Bible for God. The challenge is then to see who can write or recite from memory the most names of God. Have a junior and a senior division! (In Kathleen’s church, the Junior winner rattled off 87 names and the Senior winner knew 94!)
“Listing God’s names and understanding and believing them to be true, with genuine gratitude and heartfelt adoration, makes up worship. Wanting to know more about him, wanting to spend every minute talking about who He is and what He does, is worship.”
As religious educators, do you still get goose bumps when you tell young people about God? Have you ever found tears filling your eyes as you explain the wonder of God’s love?
Kathleen Chapman reminds us that we have a generation of “God who?” kids growing up in our churches and schools.
Let us rise to the challenge and answer their question! This is the way to ‘glue’ our young people to their Saviour.