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Time to Rethink Our Youth Ministry Worship Time…

This week we have been discussing worship in our youth ministries. Today, let me share my own recent experience and what I am learning practically and philosophically.

Recently I’ve really been wrestling with this idea of worship, and by that, I’m referring to the music part of worship we have every Wednesday night for 15-20 minutes. In my ministry context, we have a solid band led by 2 adults and compromised of a bunch of students and a couple other adults. They do a great job at scheduling the band, planning the set, and leading students into that time of worship. But there’s some struggles we are facing…

Youth Ministry Worship

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Help Students Get Back To The Heart Of Worship

For a variety of reasons in the last 8 months my family and I have had the privilege to visit a combination of about 25 churches, conferences and retreats.   Each of them has had a unique flavor of what they define as “worship.”  To most this is a combination of the music played, the service brought, and traditions displayed.  We have read written prayers, sang hymns, rocked out with a “contemporary” band, and taken communion in a myriad of ways.  Here is what is interesting in our journey:

Worship Praise

1.  My children have been exposed to many approaches to teaching about Christ.

2.  EVERY single leader I have met loves Jesus, with a desire to lead their congregation in “worship.” (Whether or not the people they shepherd respond.)

We have heard it said that worship is more than music and singing, it is about a life poured out for the Lord.   I believe each of us connect with Him in different ways.  Worship to me is about taking the time for our total and complete focus to be on Him alone.  My children have come out of each arena and have learned to critique what they do and don’t get out of it.   I would argue this has little to do with worship and more to do about style. My son has expressed a couple of times,  “You can tell the pastor really cares about Christ, and sharing Him with us.”

This is a life lived in worship.  Their eye is to see the Lord first and foremost.

In this process my children had a chance to stand in front of a large congregation recently and ask a crowd of people they didn’t know, to support a cause they have started to support Haiti.  They hated it.  It pushed them to remember who they were in this for:  their comfort or their Savior.   My family has seen in their own lives ways they CAN worship the Lord.  Sometimes it is through singing or the Word, other times it is in service, always it is in the everyday learning to know Christ and bring the Good News to a broken world.

A couple of weeks ago at one church we were lead to sing something that is quite popular on Christian radio right now.  Afterwards as a family we discussed it.  My daughter mentioned,  “I like the song, but I don’t get why we were singing more about us than the Lord.”   Learning to see his face in every setting is a valuable lesson.  Too often we compartmentalize our worship and teach students to do the same.   We intimate,  “Here at church, or youth group,  the conference,  at camp,  in this setting this is where we worship God.”  While it is amazing to be in a gathering with other Believers “worshipping” it is hardly the definition of this word.  Instead 25 settings have taught us this:

Worship is about learning to be in awe of God in every setting, in every moment of every day. Can we teach this to the generation behind and ahead? How are you coming back to the heart of worship with your students?


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Are you Communicating the Wrong Message About Worship in your Youth Ministry?

Worship is More Than Music…

We all want to create a space where our students can meaningfully connect with God.  It’s why we expend so much energy on things like transforming summer trips, engaging Bible studies, and relational retreats.  It’s also why sometimes we send an unintended message to our students…

Serving Worship

Sometimes, in an effort to be more relevant and connectional with teenagers, we’ll create a student worship service.  We utilize examples and media in our messages that are more ‘student-friendly’; we engage students in a way that sometimes doesn’t happen in our regular worship services; of course we have an amazing student band doing to most current worship tunes from everyone’s favorite contemporary worship leaders, while subtly including music from other genres that they might even have playing on their iPods.

We do all that for an exceptional reason.  We want to soften the soil so the transforming message of Christ finds fertile ground in the hearts and minds of students.

Our unintended message is this:  Worship in the student ministry is better because we use better songs and YouTube videos.  We accidentally boil worship down to its simplest form – we get a sin immunization by singing music we like one hour a week.

Worship is more than a preferred music style.  It’s more than a relevant message.  And it’s way more than an hour in any given week.  Worship is life.  It’s an existence dedicated to maintaining and relaying to others a connection with God.

That connection comes through more than the media thrust upon us by well-intentioned organizers of what should be an experience designed to celebrate all that God has done through our week of life-worship in the previous 167 hours.

According to Romans, our lives are the worship service.  Conveying anything less than that to our students, intentionally or by accident, sells short the call of Christ and the command to live our lives as an act of worship…regardless of what the student band is playing on Wednesday night.

How are you communicating a lifestyle of worship to your students?


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