Building A Worship Culture In Youth Ministry
It only happens once in a century. The 'Teen Decade' (from 2013 to 2019) only lasts 7 years. During the first 4 years of this time, I have blogged often on Youth Leadership Traits. You can search this blog and read the other posts on this topic. I am believing for the greatest Youth Awakening in the Church that America has ever seen. And I use this blog to aid in that passion of mine.
We have talked about a lot of contributing factors to spiritual health and vitality in teenagers. This week, I want to deal with the worship in our Youth Ministries.
Great Youth Leaders will develop a personal lifestyle of worship that inspires their corporate Youth setting in order to see the Youth culture around them transformed by the presence of God
Youth Ministries are trying everything they can to reach students. That would include neutral site events, campus involvement, small groups, Social Media presence, and even multiple Youth services to give students options to attend. Here's a thought. Because of the prevalence of music and videos and app-based listening tools, maybe one of the great ways to transform our Youth Ministries is through music, and specifically our lifestyle of worship. It goes against the grain of most leadership guru's and their pyramids or templates, but, here is why I believe worship is going to transform our Youth culture.
I've heard many people say that young people today can not be led in the worship of God. They don't have the attention span to worship. They don't want to worship. They don't know how to worship. They are not spiritually interested enough to worship. Just wait until they grow up so they can understand it!
I don't believe any of these statements at all. It is not that young people don’t understand worship. To be frank, they probably have a better idea of worship than most people in our culture. Our generation has the ability to worship sports, movie, and rock icons. They even have accomplished the art of worshipping self. Worship is what young people we do in America.
Getting teenagers to worship isn’t an issue. Getting teenagers to worship God is the issue.
If we teach and model biblical worship in our personal lives and corporate Youth Ministry setting, we will see this generation respond. Because teens have been raised in an idolatrous and materialistic worship of this world, it will take an intentional plan to place God back on the throne of their lives. To create a progressive biblical instruction and expectation of worship to our generation will work! Just because we think teenagers are engaged with 'world worship', doesn't mean they are fatally disengaged from the worship of God.
As Youth Leaders, the louder our lives present a true worship of God, the clearer the people around us will see Him. There are many ways we can do this:
Seven Ways to Improve the Worship of God in our Youth Ministries:
1. Program worship into the Youth setting on a regular basis. Give it a priority. Whether you have a gifted worship team or have to use a video playlist, show the students how important worship is by spending time organizing it. If you don't have the musicians in your setting, find young adults who can build the culture. And some of the really great moments in worship that I have had with teens was video playlist. Creating several of these for live worship settings is sight and sound!
2. Develop the Fine Arts gifts of the young people in your ministry. Whether they play musical instruments, do drama, sing, rap, read or recite poetry, or create art, there is no shortage of talent in the Youth culture. Get students to involved in the Youth service and they will own it and create a draw for other students to be involved also. Open mic nights can create a great place for teens to display their gifts.
3. Do not limit worship to music. There are many creative ways to inspire worship and to place Christ at the center of our lives. That could include 'stations' at the Youth service where students read, write, speak, dream, or sit in silence. Encourage students they can 'worship live', everywhere they are. Worship is more a state of mind than merely a song.
4. Changing the music we listen to as Youth Leaders will increase our personal intimacy with God, and, our integrity before the students. It will be difficult to convince students to worship God if we are listening to questionable music ourselves. Make the secular your sacred.
5. Teach our students to worship in private so that their public worship isn’t awkward. The greatest moments of our worship should not be in a corporate setting. My two greatest moments in worship were alone with God. Not a camp, or a convention, or a service, or a band, or even my friends. This can be done by transforming their bedrooms, their vehicles, or their phones into worship tools. We must raise students who come to the Youth Group worshipping, instead of coming to the Youth Group to worship!
6. Create nights of worship where a variety of worship arts are allowed to be exercised. Where an entire Youth service is set aside for worship and worship is not simply an add-on to the Youth service. We have to remove ceilings and break fences around the students and nights of emphasis can do this. Invite other groups and increase the community and the energy. This can bring a peer accountability to students when they see their friends in worship.
7. If we are going to increase their theological knowledge and ultimately their worship, we have to instruct students. Correct teaching that encourages worship as a lifestyle will promote young people who 'worship live' and not just at Church. We cannot accept theological illiteracy. Teens can handle more than you think.
I believe there is a fire burning in the heart of American teens today. However, it may not be the fire of God. It could be the fire of sin that is raging like an inferno fed by idolatry, lust, materialism, fame, or even self. But, I believe it is our responsibility as Youth Leaders to bring teenagers into God's presence. If we do that, they will transfer their passion to worship stuff or self into their passion to worship God.