Engaging Youth in Worship
(Originally published on TheWorshipCommunity.com. Used with permission.)
For most of my life the only style of worship I knew was what I would call the teacher student model. There was a choir director and pastor who sat up front and spoke, we sat in the pews and listened. What I found missing from that was the opportunity to be involved. To respond to God in ways that were not written, or scripted or printed in a hymnal. We listened to the preacher, we listened to the choir, we listened to the scripture being read. Often I did feel that worship was boring.
But then things changed when I started going to my youth group. These became the times when I learned the most, when I felt closest to God, was most engaged, and when my faith grew the strongest, when I had a chance to express my thoughts in some tangible way, and to experience God outside of songs and sermons. It was when I was given a chance to respond.
I remember one of the first times I experienced this. We were asked to write down something that was separating us from God on a piece of paper and tack it onto the cross. Then when everyone had finished they lit the bottom piece of paper and all of our "sins" dissapeared. What was awesome for me was not necessarily the cool paper, or awesome pyrotechnics, while I will say I was impressed, but it was the opportunity that was created for me to have an active role in the worship service.
Maybe your conscience, or your insurance, won't allow you to use flash paper but I want to encourage you to create opportunities to respond in your worship services. Some ideas are to use rocks and a bucket of water and have the youth imagine letting go of their worries as they drop the rock into the water. We have also used a fiber paper that dissolves in water, which is much safer than the flash paper and just as cool. Most recently we did something as simple as laying down two sheets of butcher paper and markers and had the youth write down anything they wanted to say to God.
There are many ideas of things you can do, there are tons more that haven't even been thought of yet.
Oh, one more thing. These do not just work well with youth, but I encourage you to try it with your adults as well.
Ok for those of you who have been using these types of worship experiences. What are some of the ones that have worked the best for you? Share them with us!
Written by Russell MartinComment on Facebook Comment on Twitter
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