The Youth Church I See…

I recently got done reading a book called Crossing Over. It was written by Paul Scanlon, the Senior Pastor of Abundant Life Church in Bradford, England. In the book Paul shares his story of leading his church to new levels of successful ministry after years of being stagnant. He parallels his story to the story of Joshua who leads the Israelite people into the land God had promised to give them.

One section of the book I particularly enjoyed was entitled, “What Kind of Church Don’t You Want?” I had to read that chapter title twice, because I thought the book was supposed to be about how to maximize the effectiveness of your church and/or ministry area. In the chapter, Scanlon writes about a couple month period in which he traveled through his country visiting churches and considering what kind of church he didn’t want. This exercise paved the way for him to understand what kind of church he truly wanted to lead a be a part of.

This got me to thinking about our youth church, Live Youth Ministries. I’ve been the leader of this ministry for six years and anything that I feel needs changing was probably started or allowed to start by me. What an interesting position. Hmm, to think that the things I initiated just a few years ago probably need tweaking or in some cases a complete about face.

So as I tried my hand at this little exercise I took into consideration, our current youth church, other youth ministries I’ve visited, and various ministries I’ve personally experienced or been a part of. I came out with a list of 7 things that drive me crazy (in a bad way) about youth ministry. To say it another way, these observations are the traits that describe a youth ministry I don’t want.

For your sake and mine, I will list one item I have observed per day. I have also included my response to each observation.

Observation 1: Many youth churches are full of lazy worshipers and bad note takers.

We’ve all seen this, the youth band begins the service and students stare blankly at them as if they were from another planet. The worship leader has seemingly two choices:

1. Close his/her eyes and lead as if no one is actually there. Or
2. Scold all in attendance and ask the interrogating question, “You can cheer at a football game, so why can’t you get excited for Jesus?”

Neither response is very effective and most times leaders neglect to realize that the audience’s reaction is a reflection of their enthusiasm and intensity for the worship set.

On bad note takers, doesn’t it drive you insane when you get done speaking and you find leftover notes on the ground? Often times you’ll see things written on them like, “Do you like him? Or do you like him, like him?”

Or how about the classic, “Will you go out with me? Check yes, no, or maybe.” You’ve just given your best eight point message on the seven churches in Revelation and students have the audacity to not take notes on it!

My response: …the youth church I see worships whole heartedly. The worship is interactive and experiential. The youth church I see is writing and producing music. It is raising up worship leaders who are looked to when it comes to cutting edge music. The youth church I see is full of people that are engaged in the message. When God’s word is shared it is met with hearts ready to apply it and put it into practice. The audience is compelled to interact with the worship leader and speaker in the youth ministry I see.

John 4:23
But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.

Romans 12:2
But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.

Yes I admit it, it’s not all on the students, we as leaders, need to lead the way in creating this kind of culture in our youth ministries. More to come…

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