There is a certain argument that goes like this:
When we make children do actions in praise and worship, the idea is that first we break the body. So when they are able to physically do actions in Praise and Worship, then we'll be able to let their hearts get into the correct attitude of worship. So in other words, we teach our children to worship from the outside-in.
I think that it is very good that so many of our worship leaders teach our kids to do actions and raise their hands in worship. Encouraging our young ones to freely worship is definitely positive. I think that our worship leaders have been mostly correct in all they've done.
I refer exclusively and specifically to this argument of breaking the body first. I'm doing so because I don't want anybody to come into Praise and Worship with an incorrect understanding of why we do actions, encourage our children to sing loudly... etc.
An outside-in approach. I am fully against it because my bible says in 1 Samuel 16:7 that "the Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart". Indeed, in children's Praise and Worship (or all Praise and Worship, for that matter), we should teach our kids that God looks at their hearts. That first they praise God from the heart and second they let it show in their physical bodies. It is of no pleasure to God to dance before Him when the heart is not worshipping.
My bible says in Psalm 8:2 that "From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger". NLT says "You have taught children and nursing infants to give you praise". As the Holy Spirit ministers to our children, won't God Himself teach them how to worship? All we do in Praise and Worship is to teach our children to worship in Spirit and in truth (John 4:21-24).
Nowhere in God's word can I find scriptural foundation for this suggestion that we should first get the children's body into the motion of worshipping God, followed by their hearts.
Need more proof?
Psalms 30:11-12. "You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with your joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent..."
So tell me this. Which comes first? The touch of God from the inside, beginning with the heart? Or from the outside, beginning with the dancing? And above all, are the efforts of man needed to achieve an attitude of praise?
Then of course some will always say that for very young toddlers we cannot expect them to understand how to worship God. So we simply teach them the physical movements of it. (May I remind you of Psalm 8:2. KJV doesn't use "children and infants" it uses "babes and sucklings". If we take that literally, God can teach suckling children to worship Him).
I disagree. From the very little understanding that each of us have, or from no understanding at all, the Holy Spirit can teach us how to worship. I have many more years of studying the bible than a six year old child. Yet I can quite safely say that his singing and worship is any less sweet in the ears of God than mine.
Of course, there is an age where children may not seem to understand how to worship God. Let us hypothesise that this were true. However, why should we want to teach them how to physically get into the motion of worshipping God (without the worship of the heart), if that were the case? Does the physical expression of worship without the involvement of the heart please God? And what is the purpose of worship? To please man with a disply for human eyes or to please a Creator who knows our every thought? (Psalm 139: 2). (Of course I must remind you that John the Baptist leaped in the womb of Elizabeth in Luke 1:41).
I could probably go on, arguing for ages about how worship is always an inside-out process, not outside in. But instead of doing that, let me leave an open challenge. If anyone of you still think that the outside-in approach is still correct, logical as it may sound, convince me with the word of God. Show me where in the bible such an approach can be supported. Please don't repeat some Christian-sounding argument (the type with absolutely no scriptural basis) or present a who-said-what.
Anybody want to come back on what I've just said? Pick up the gauntlet. I humbly wait to be corrected. I have thought long and hard, and I have yet to find a strong-enough biblical argument in what I am challenging.