An Experiment in Church Youth Leadership

A few weeks ago, the children and youth of Faith Lutheran Church put on their annual Christmas program telling the Lukan Christmas story. As part of that day, the youth took over every worship leadership role (except mine). They don’t often get to do this, even though I have strongly encouraged them to sign up for worship leadership.

This was a great opportunity for our youth to shine. They stood up in front of the congregation and read each reading in loud, strong voices. They collected the week’s offering and brought it, and the communion elements, forward. Before the service began, they prepared the bread and wine, and they greeted everyone as they came in the door. I even had a Confirmation student serve as the assisting minister that morning.

On the Friday before the program, I brought him into my office and ran through the service with him. Thankfully, I had already prepared a handout detailing which parts of the service were his responsibility. As our assisting ministers usually prepare the Prayers of Intercession each week, I took the heat off of him and did those as well.

Coming into the office, I knew that he wasn’t all that excited about being the assisting minister. Though he agreed when asked, he was having second thoughts about the whole thing. We went through the service bit by bit, and then, I heard words that I wish everyone in my congregation could hear when they think about helping in worship: “Wow–this isn’t as hard as I thought it would be!” Ding!

On Sunday morning, we again went over the liturgy before the service, and I promised him that I wouldn’t let him get lost and I wouldn’t hang him out to dry. He led the Kyrie, the Nicene Creed, the Prayers of Intercession, the Offering Prayer, and the Post-Communion Prayer. He set the table with me and held the chalices during Holy Communion. The last words heard by the congregation were spoken by one of their youth: “Go in peace, Christ is with you.”

After worship, we went back to my office, and I thanked him for the excellent job he did leading the congregation. He then gave me fantastic news: he thoroughly enjoyed leading worship and wanted to be added to the list of people who serve in worship, especially as the assisting minister.

Isn’t it amazing what the youth in the church are capable of when we let them?

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Author: Pastor Ken

Ken Ranos serves as the pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Three Lakes, WI, a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

5 thoughts on “An Experiment in Church Youth Leadership”

  1. Several years ago, a female member of our congregation was telling me about a worship service the women of the church were planning. She told me that the women were handling EVERYTHING related to the service. No men were needed, with the exception being the pastor to preside over communion.
    I responded with, “That’s great. I can really use a break. So who have you found to play the organ or piano?”
    Total silence.

    I wasn’t sure if I should have felt indispensable, or totally unnecessary!

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    1. Ha! We tend to overlook the people who are there every Sunday, don’t we?

      My congregation loves when, once or twice a year, the youth “take over” the service. But my goal is get the youth integrated regularly in worship leadership, to the point where it’s not longer “cute” when they lead the service. I want them to be normal, active leaders in worship.

      Like

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