Youth Sunday Audio, Learnings, And One Idea

Youth Sunday was a gas, of course, as teenagers ranging from 6th graders to nearly graduated seniors stood before the congregation to greet, call to worship, lead in prayer, read scripture, preach, call for commitment, charge and bless. ¬†You can listen to the entire service led by our junior high students here (the earlier service, led by our high schoolers, isn’t online anywhere). The sermons from that service are here.

Here are a few things I learned from on Youth Sunday.

You can have eight preachers in a service and still be done in an hour.

Students can be flexible. Especially the high school students. Owing to communication problems on my end, we were four high school worship leaders short, which caused me no small amount of panic moments before the service. No matter, though. Students took on new roles voluntarily and CRUSHED them.

Preparation will save your life as a stressed out Pastor. Not my preparation, of course, but the preparation of our Senior High Director, who assembled fully annotated orders of worship for each student, complete with their name and highlighted parts. There’s no way to measure how much this helped our leaders feel comfortable and confident in their roles.

Even though you think it will get old, the beginning lines of the senior’s sermon that recount how she was baptized in the church as an infant and grew up in it attending Sunday School and VBS and playing roles in the Christmas pageant, it does not, in fact, get old. Ever.

Here’s an idea for something to try next time.

A worship leading workshop the week before the service that allows youth leaders to get up in the chancel and practice their role and to draw on the experience and insight of their peers and adult leaders for making improvements. This idea is 100% about reducing the anxiety of the Pastor, who can’t relax when students keep coming up to lead whom he has never seen do what they’re about to do.


Monday Morning Quarterback

Stuff we learned on Sunday

Youth Sunday, I now realize, is as much about the adult congregation as it is about the teenagers. This annual ritual is a chance, yes, for teens to plan all the music, to lead all the prayers, even to preach the sermon, but it is also a chance for the grown ups in the pews to hold those teenagers in their moment of risk and vulnerability.

That is a momentous thing to do.

It is as if we say to these moms and dads, Sunday school teachers and octogenarians all, “Here, do this: for the next hour concentrate as hard as you can on these kids and channel every ounce of grace and courage you can to them, for they are trying to summon the divine for you, and that is dangerous business indeed.”

The church is always, I’m finding, up to this task. It is hungry for it.