Eloise Reah is married with two children. Eloise was a teacher before becoming a children’s worker at ChristChurch Hailsham and qualifying as a play therapist. Children’s work involves running a busy toddler group, baby group and planning and delivering an exciting programme for under 11s on Sunday mornings and during the school holidays.
He just wasn’t getting it! During a long car journey we had been trying to help my eight year old son remember our telephone number. He would nearly get it, but then five minutes later it would be gone again. We despaired of getting him to remember it, let alone learn our arguably more useful mobile ‘phone numbers! Suddenly inspiration struck, I sang our telephone number to a silly tune made up on the spot and sang it a few more times. In a very few minutes he was singing the numbers correctly and so was his three year old sister. From that very moment the number was fixed in his brain, and he never forgot it. Sometimes he (now fourteen) and his sister still sing it! That afternoon showed me how music gives information ninja-like powers to sneak into our brains and take up permanent squatting rights.
Good music is a powerful tool enabling children to plant biblical truths in their hearts. With our toddler group this can be as simple as “Jesus loves me”, a good foundation for our mainly un-churched children. With our older children the songs they learn can serve as a battle cry sung inwardly when they are facing hard times at school, a comfort when they are feeling lonely or low and a way of releasing high spirits when exuberant. Choosing songs based on verses from scripture is akin to placing weapons in their hands to guard their hearts and minds, strengthen their faith and repel enemy attacks; it’s that powerful!
Anxiety, depression, negative self-image and low self-esteem can affect children and young people at any time, some experiencing serious mental health difficulties. While these issues require a variety of approaches many psychologists claim that positive self-talk is a vital strategy for improving mental well-being. As usual the bible was there long before the psychologists; “Take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Through music our children can learn that they are loved by God, that they are valuable in his sight, that they have a purpose, that God is always with them, that he strengthens and sustains them, and that his promises are true. Remembering and proclaiming the promises and power of God through song is a time proven way of combating fear, fright, loneliness and despair.
Fake news, and very few truths, populate the world our children are growing up in. They are fed a constant stream of confusing information in a world that is tolerant of everything except absolutes. Biblical truths anchor us in storms and direct our course. Embedding these truths in songs make them memorable and part of our thought systems. I learned many Christian songs as a child which I sang without really thinking about. Those songs return to me as an adult and I realise how much of a part they played in my thinking and my values; they provided a frame of reference. These truths are the scales by which I weigh new information, new attitudes and new viewpoints. Providing these truths to children through music equips them early on in their lives with a measure that never dates or errs. It strengthens their faith when they are surrounded by doubters and critics.
We know that God loves children, Jesus demonstrated this in his ministry, and the bible is full of encouragement for us to be childlike in faith. Psalm 8:2 says “Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.” When children praise and worship more is happening than we can see or imagine. Our children become part of a battle and strengthen the church universal. It is necessary to take a high view of music as part of work with children, they are not merely singing songs, they are waging war.
I am no music expert, in fact I failed my music GCSE and have no sense of rhythm at all. My incompetence however has never been a barrier to the use of music in our sessions with children. Toddlers are very forgiving of poor singing, and with older children I seek out good musicians or great published resources, of which there are many! Great songs are intergenerational, international and an effective way of helping children understand biblical truths
Songs we love for teaching scripture:
Parts of a body - Based on Corinthians 12:12-26
Love In My Heart - Based on 1 Corinthians 13
Thank You For Loving Me - Based on John 3:16