Before the tail lights recede into the darkness and the sound of goodbye fade into oblivion, there's a serious call for churches to minister to the vanishing young people in our congregations. Incrementally direr through the passing of time is the shrinkage of our numbers of teens and young adults in our churches. Though some churches have rightly look at radical ways in revive youth programs, the nexus of the problem starts earlier. Often teenagers leave because they did not receive a solid Gospel-grounded foundation while they were still in church. Sunday School, for many such churches, is nothing more than sanctified babysitting where the songs and messages are nothing more than moralistic lessons without much engagement with Jesus and the Gospel. This is where Integrity Music is of such a Godly resource to churches. Not only is the worship-centered imprint committed to provide new expressions of congregational worship through their copious catalog, they are also committed to the next generation. "Shout Praise Kids" is a series of CDs/DVDs designed to be used be used in churches and homes that provide opportunities for children to worship via songs that are fun, catchy and speak to these young hearts.
"We Belong to Jesus" is the latest release to roll off this series. This time they have engaged New Life Worship (with worship leader Jared Anderson taking the lead) and the kids from the Colorado Springs based New Life Church to front the worship. Best known for housing the ever popular "The Desperation Bad," the church is also known for originating some of the best-loved anthems sung across churches worldwide, including songs like "Overcome," "Great I Am," "I Am Free," "Your Name," "My Savior Lives" and many more. And more recently, New Life Worship (also signed to Integrity Music) has just released one of their best worship oeuvre "Strong God." As for "We Belong to Jesus," what Anderson has done is that he and his team have re-recorded 11 of their more popular songs imbued in a more simplistic format with the kids from the children being invited to sing with the team. Pumping with sugar-infested adrenaline, "Counting on God" is a power house kicker that will get the most soporific kids wide awake praising God as soon as the case Anderson and his team calls upon us to praise God for his faithfulness. Nothing draws a child attention quicker than an irresistible tune and this is the case with he hooky "Impossible Possible." You get bet the imaginations of kids lighting up with glee when they sing especially on the line of the song about crooked thieves: "Come all you crooked thieves /Cast your cares and believe/He is the water/The water that never runs dry." In a time where kids are often bombarded with the latest toys and video games, it is important to ground such young minds that it is truly Jesus and His Word that truly satisfies on "According to Your Word." Not only will children be singing along to some of the latest worship songs, they do get to learn a hymn too with the medley of "Just Give Me Jesus/'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus."
But not only is this a great album for the spiritual edification of kids, other than the kids' backing, many of these songs are also for adults. "Strong God," the title cut from New Life Church's latest release, is already becoming a worship anthem across numerous churches. Nevertheless, this makes the skeptical among us question if the weightier themes (and language) of songs such as "Victorious God" and "Never Be Shaken" behoove the younger kids? Would Jared Anderson and his team do better if they have actually written songs geared specifically for children rather than just trying to squeeze adult-songs into smaller minds? Nevertheless, if you do not want to see your teenagers leave the faith later in life, start now by soaking their ears, hearts and minds with worship that is contemporary, intelligent and cool. Encountering the Risen Christ through worship, not church programs, is what will ultimately stop the goodbye generation from leaving.