Zen and the art of youth services

Had an e-mail from a guy named Ben I met at a youth service last year. He poses a how do you start? stylee question about youth services. Thought it’d be really cool if worshippers from across Blogdonia could chip in with their experiences and insights ….. and critical questions Ben should be thinking about.
“I’m currently looking into getting some kind of youth service going at my church and was wondering if you have any tips on the best way of doing this like ways of getting speakers, organising a band and the kind of things to actually include in the service”

6 Replies to “Zen and the art of youth services”

  1. Well step one… Talk the the young people and see what they want, what talents they have and what they need. Until you know that… well anything you plan is an EVENT not worship.
    Gosh is that too harsh?

  2. We’ve found that taking our group along to other peoples Youth Services, or combining with another local group who have been doing Youth Services for a while is great way to get ideas, and also build interest amongst the Young People.

  3. I agree with Sarah, get the youth together, make them some lunch and brainstorm, they need ownership of the thing and usually have ideas and gifting that needs tapping into.
    A good idea i like is to start the service with some video spots of YP responding to questions relating to the theme … grabs ppls interest at the start cos they r usually on the video! Several YP are usually ‘technically gifted’ as i like to call it and enjoy putting this together.

  4. 1st, Dont start with a tick list… band… speaker… etc.
    2nd, Don’t start by asking the young people what they want to do! OK that sounds controversial but hear me out… People (young and old) learn languages, they the struggle to express themselves in ways not predefined in their recieved language… IME if you ask young people what they want they will find it hard to think outside of the learned/cultural structure… I.e. they will think; what songs do we want to sing, what kind of drama can we do, what speaker do we want etc. etc. Before Sarah comes back at me 😉 I agree with what she is saying you do have to start with who the young people are, their concerns, their understanding of God, their expression, their gifts etc. but I think you have to give them the freedom to think through these things outside of any recieved structure/understanding and perhaps without the immediate pressure to produce.
    The best Youth Worship gathering I got going started with a 3month (2xa week) lead in… first of all exploring a theology and biblical survey of Worship (led by them not me – we just sat down with Bibles and talked)… from that they began to draw together a definition/understanding of Worship which was much more wholistic, much more creative and much more challenging to them individually and as a group. They then began to ask each other how to express our relationship with God/each other in this new framework… what grew from this was way more than a service… it changed everything about the group… but the monthly services were mind blowing inc. one service where instead of a talk (in fact we never had talks …they introduced something we called “surgeries not sermons”) we were all sent outside for 15 mins to lie on the ground and meditate on creation as we looked at the stars in silence! On another memorable occasion what they produced (a reflection on the cross) so touched the heart that the Vicar sat in the pews broke down in tears! My only real input to the planning was to say… “if you can think of a good reason to do something we’ll give it a go! (BTW they were a pretty ordinary group of about 10 churched 14-18year olds)
    My basic point is don’t just do what everyone else does, don’t rush them challenge them, encourage them to REALLY explore “worship” and don’t be afraid to take risks… oh and don’t be a bridge between Church and YP be an advocate… be prepared to take the flack for their mistakes!

  5. Critical Questions:
    1) If you didn’t know it was ‘church’ how else could you describe it? School, cinema, theatre, social club, rito etc.
    2) Why’s it like that? Inertia, lack of imagination, tradition or deliberate choice.
    3) Is there any danger people being challenged?
    Which is necessary sometimes.
    4) Is there any danger of people being comforted?
    Which is necessary sometimes.
    5) Who’s it for?
    Literally who is turning up? But also why bother? Who gains from all the effort?
    6) Does it make me look important?
    If it does, stop at once, the proper recipient of worship is not you.
    7) Are we growing?
    numbers, breadth and depth. It’s Ok if your resting for a while or preparing but the aim isn’t to stay the same for ever.
    8) Do bad ideas sometimes get through?
    That’s a good sign that you’re still taking risks and not squashing good ideas just in case.
    Rats, I’m two questions short. How unsatisfying.

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