“Worship is boring.” “There’s nothing in it for me.” “I don’t need to worship”.
Unfortunately, the above complaints have been heard many times over the years from students who are struggling to connect with a church, and ultimately with their faith in Christ. Also common is the boy hiding in the stairwell, or the girl on an extra-long bathroom break during worship. It seems to be a constant struggle to keep teenagers engaged and to cultivate an attitude of openness to worship services. Teenagers tell themselves that worship is not relevant, so there is no need to participate. As a result, some churches are experiencing serious decline in student attendance on Sunday morning.
When teenagers stop attending worship, they are missing the chance to participate and grow in their faith. The act of singing praises, giving of tithes and offerings, Holy Communion, Prayer and Scripture Readings are important elements of the faith that we all need to continue to develop into fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. As teenagers are maturing, it is essential for them to be exposed to these spiritual disciplines.
We as church leaders need to encourage and teach our youth about the transformative nature of worship. Ultimately, a time of worship for the mature believer is a profound experience. It is a time when we are invited to enter into the living presence of God. The very God that holds our lives powerfully, in His hand.
For the teenager, the above revelation will many times come through the caring discipleship of mature believers. We cannot just assume that they will wake up one morning and automatically know why worship is important for them. Teaching students about the awesomeness of God and all of His power is a way to help them understand the importance of worship. We need to teach students that we are created for God and for His glory, and that He is so pleased when we are worshipping Him. As Colossians 1:16 says, “all things were created by him and for him”. We as adults have a responsibility to teach and model to our students about tithing, and Holy Communion and Singing Praises to our Heavenly Father.
We need to include students in the worship experience. Every opportunity to involve students in worship should be utilized. Instead of just letting them sit on the sidelines and observe, invite them into the heart of worship. Students should be invited to sing in the praise team, sing a special song, help to serve communion, offer the scripture reading for the week, or collect the offering. Being a part of the worship experience and not just an observer will help the teens feel connected.
Finally, mature believers need to evaluate their heart for worship. We need to remember, as adults, the students are watching us and how we are responding as well. We need to enthusiastically invite the Holy Spirit into our worship times as we prayerfully consider how to engage our teens in our worship experiences. As we lead by example, may we consider all the ways that we may spur our teenagers on to the way that leads to life!