The big project I’m working on this week is Youth Led Worship. The 9:30 service this Sunday will be led entirely by high school youth and the 11:00 by 6th-8th graders. The entire service, sermons and everything. They wrote all the parts to the service a week ago Sunday.
Youth Led Worship (or Youth Sunday) is, for me, more nerve wracking than just about anything else. Neither preaching nor giving a children’s sermon nor baptizing a screaming baby fill me with as many jitters as sitting in the pews as youth I am supposed to have prepared stand before the congregation to lead them in worship.
The right answer is that I’m nervous for them. I want them to have a positive experience. I internalize some of their nerves and uncertainty. The wrong answer is that I’m anxious about how their leadership will reflect on me. That answer is wrong because Youth Sunday is not about the youth or the adults who lead them, but God. It’s worship.
What’s the worst that could happen? One of my students once introduced a time of silent confession by saying, “And now let the awkward silence commence.” Legend has it that a student at my current church told a blonde joke during the service.
Water off a duck’s back, man. Compared to the best that can happen, the worst possibility is nothing. Students will experience the welcome and the grace of the church, while adults experience the courage and conviction of its teenagers. Whatever jitters it causes are totally worth it.
Also, if youth are consistently in front of the congregation, that’s fewer jitters for everybody.