Youth Worship 2: Participation and Music
1. Participation in Worship
In many youth groups, the worship services include half an hour or more of worship songs and then twenty minutes or less of Bible teaching. Prayer typically occupies less than 2 minutes of a worship service. This type of service appeals to many people, especially to those who are good singers. But it can unintentionally lead to an over-emphasis on the worship band and the singers up front. Not only that, in seeking to sound good, the worship band can unintentionally give the impression of superiority. Young people who are not musically talented do not feel they participate in worship.
Youth worship services should feature more variety in worship expression. A half-hour of singing is too much for anyone. Just watch to see who is still singing after 25 minutes. Usually, it’s just the worship band and a handful of hoarse teenagers. Another reason why many teenagers don’t sing in worship is because the band usually plays too loud and the teens can’t hear themselves anyway.
It is special to hear each other singing. I understand why some worship leaders tell the worshippers to “close their eyes and forget about everyone else.” They want the worshippers to close out distractions and focus solely on God. But if corporate worship is all about me and God alone together, I can do that at home. Give me a Chris Tomlin CD and lock me in a closet with my Bible and I can worship for an hour.
But there is something special when we are together singing and praising God – as a community of believers, as people who are focused on glorying God and building up each other. I don’t want to close my eyes and think only about God when I’m at church; I want to see how God’s working in the lives of my brothers and sisters. I love to see others singing and praising Him, praying to Him, and hearing the Word.
Teens today are more isolated than ever before, even with their Ipods, and instant messengers. They are enclosed most of the time, fragmented from society and longing for real relationships. Let’s not give them more of the same in our worship service. This is the opportunity for them to connect with God and with each other.
2. Music Style
When people ask me what I think about worship, they almost always are referring to musical style. I like so many forms of worship that I hesitate even to answer that question. I enjoy contemporary Christian music and prefer a worship band over an organ and piano. Most teenagers are the same way.
Musical preference should not be the defining factor in a worship service. Some kids like rap – does that mean we should do rap in worship? Some kids like country – should we then do southern gospel? Everyone prefers one style over another. The key is to transcend these preferences and to offer something that appeals to most everyone there (without becoming bland) and to focus on God and not the style of music.
I’ll have some more thoughts on youth worship tomorrow…
written by Trevin Wax. © 2007 Kingdom People Blog