*Part six of seven in a series of posts called The Youth Church I See.
Youth Churches with empty seats and extra space always available; where semi-permanent walls are used to make the room appear full.
Well this observation in particular hits home with me. I have been living this observation out for several years now. Our youth ministry is blessed to be able to conduct our service in the main auditorium at our church. Our auditorium can seat at max capacity probably just over 400 people and that’s packing it full.
So for years we’ve been coming up with ways to make it feel full on our youth nights. We haven’t been able to fill it literally so we are left to make it feel full. I have no objection to this on the surface, it makes for a fun and exciting atmosphere when students feel close together and packed in. My frustration is that I have to produce this excitement and anticipation by putting up corrugated tin walls that shrink the room to fit the students that show up each week.
I would love to have to show our service on video screens in different parts of the church because the auditorium is too full for anyone else to come in. I long for the day when our students can’t wait to get to service and get a seat for themselves and the six other people they brought with them that night. I can see it my mind’s eye already; can you?
Students coming to meet with God and each other. Students packing a room to worship God with all that is in them. Students that are hungry to be transformed by God’s Grace and incredible love. Students that are eager to see the friends they brought experience forgiveness and respond to the truth.
Jesus actually faced crowd issues as well, take a look at Luke 5:1-3:
One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, great crowds pressed in on him to listen to the word of God. He noticed two empty boats at the water’s edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there.
I heard a pastor say recently, that in all his years of ministry he had yet to see an empty chair get saved, worship, be filled with the Spirit, give in an offering, or serve in the church. You know, I haven’t either. It’s time our youth ministries become places where the empty chairs are driven to extinction.
…the Youth Church I see is one with no walls. Not just literally, but figuratively as well. It is jam packed with young people who come expecting God to change their lives and the lives of others. I see a youth ministry that is faced with running back to back youth services to accommodate all the young people that are coming.