As a kid growing up at Zion, I spent many Wednesday afternoons and evenings making music at church. I started with SONShine Choir as a kindergartener, eventually singing and ringing my way through Joy Choir, Ring Forth, Youth Choir, Class Ring, and finally joining Joyful Ringers as a young adult. Music is still a huge part of my life and faith.
These days, I’m teaching 5th-12th grade band in Hinckley, but my experiences in Zion’s Music Ministry did so much more than influence my career choices. So, from a former church choir kid, current music educator, and lifelong music-loving Lutheran, here are 10 reasons children and youth should get involved in the choirs and handbell ensembles Zion has to offer:
1. Opportunities to Participate in Worship
Not every part of a worship service feels accessible to kids in the pews and occupying the same space as adults at the front of the church can be exciting. Pastors and adult readers, musicians, communion servers, and ushers have important leadership roles, but kids can get involved too!
There’s no audience more forgiving and welcoming than a church congregation. Children’s choirs are a safe place to test the waters and explore public performances for the first time.
Many of the songs children learn are based on familiar Bible stories and can help reinforce the messages present in those stories. (To this day, my knowledge of the transfiguration story comes from a song we sang in SONShine choir, not the in-depth class on the Gospels that I took in college.)
4. Hand-Eye Coordination
Handbells, especially, require kids to practice listening, watching, and moving at the same time. The actions kids learn in some choir songs help them work on hand-eye coordination too.
5. Service to Others
Music brings light and hope to those that need it. So, whether it’s a Sunday morning in church or a trip to perform at a local nursing home, Zion’s Music Ministry allows kids to serve those around them in a meaningful way.
6. Lifelong Memories
Tie-dying handbell gloves, catchy songs, nursing home trips, snacks, and lots of laughter. These are the memories that stick with me as a look back on the parts of my childhood spent at Zion. Every kid’s memories will be be different, but they will be happy memories!
Music-making is a great environment for making new friends. Kids will look forward to heading to church if they know their friends will be there. Church choirs and handbell ensembles are also another place for kids to catch up with their Sunday School friends midweek.
The adults who direct or assist with choirs and handbells at Zion are amazing mentors in music, faith, and life. For these leaders, it’s about more than the music – they want kids to feel welcome and loved and will continue to encourage kids as they grow.
9. Skills for the Future
The skills and experiences kids get from their choir and handbell participation will follow them as they grow into adulthood. The performance skills become useful in school and community choirs, bands, and orchestras. As kids grow up and move away from home, their experiences can help them plug into new church homes. The opportunity to be involved in handbells is what helped me choose a college and connected me to the church I now attend while living in Hinckley.
10. Growing in Faith
Children and youth participating in Music Ministry at Zion are surrounded by loving people while singing and ringing about God’s greatness and Christ’s love and sharing their faith with others in the congregation and community.