Young People and Worship
I love the energy that young people bring to worship! This past Sunday we had an amazing worship experience attended by many of the 70 plus youth and children who are now away at Camp Kwasind for the week. Our prayers surround them as they continue discovering and deepening their relationships with Christ and with one another.
What is it that young people bring to the experience of worshiping God that we might miss out on without them? There is so much they bring. I’ll just begin the list today. Young people bring their enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is a wonderfully rich and biblical word meaning ‘with spirit.’ Jesus said something about this when he was talking with a woman who had come to understand that there was only one right way to worship God, and that her way was obviously not it. She had been on the receiving end of enough stern looks and behind the back comments to know what others thought of her approach. After listening to her honest confession and expression of disappointment, Jesus’ reply regarding the ‘right way’ to worship focused on two elements, “spirit and truth”. Here’s Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of John 4:23 – “Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth.”
Another element which youth bring to worship is their search for truth. Young people by nature are great explorers of truth! They’re constantly on the look out not only for what might work, but for figuring out how and why something really works; discovering the truth behind it – integrity! That’s what I see when I’ve observed the young people that come to our church to worship God – enthusiasm and integrity.
Somewhere along the way, perhaps in the process of aging, we forget how naturally these two characteristics fit together. When our enthusiasm waines we become tempted to put the emphasis on truth. ‘Its all we need,’ some say, as the spiritual power which truth reveals and makes available to them, slips past them without notice. When this happens we morph from worshipper into observer, sitting passively in our pews, rather than passionately living to express the dynamic power that faith supplies to all of us.
At other times, when truth may seem too difficult to sort out or comprehend, the temptation is to take a much easier route and make another switch. We put the emphasis on enthusiasm, valuing energy above spirit and spirit more than truth. Have you ever heard anyone suggest, ‘All we need is more up-beat, lively music and a faster worship flow’? Such comments fail to appreciate the deep relationship of “spirit” with “truth.” Like ‘faith without works’, worship which lacks either the Spirit or the Truth, lacks Life.
I appreciate how young people naturally bring with them both, enthusiasm and integrity as they engage in worship. If you’ve read this far there’s another truth that hasn’t gotten past you – enthusiasm and truth belong together and they belong to anyone who makes the choice to pursue them, no matter what their age! Ah, thank God!