Worship Is Not Enough

Yesterday we had youth ushers and a youth Beadle in worship. The litany of confession was led by three youth. The Prayer for Illumination and Psalter reading: both led by youth.

They all crushed it.

Meanwhile, the first four pews on the pulpit side were full of youth.

We’ve been at this since October, scheduling all youth participation in the 11:00 worship service on the first Sunday of each month and recruiting student leaders for the service, and yesterday was as good as its been.

And the thought that occurred to me in the middle of it? It’s not enough.

Worship participation is important. Singing the hymns and praying the prayers are things youth do alongside adults–as adults. In congregations that have traditionally planned youth ministry at the same time as worship, figuring out ways to expose teenagers to the worshiping congregation feels critical.

But it’s not enough.

Discipleship is more than worship. If we orient youth ministry toward Sunday worship participation–even Sunday worship leadership–without also setting youth up to serve their neighbors, grow in faith, and deepen relationships with friends and strangers, we’re leaving a lot on the discipleship table.

I’m thrilled about our experiments to engage youth in corporate worship. There’s mroe of that to come. But I’m not satisfied.

It’s not enough.