World on Fire

Yesterday was Youth Sunday, and I really love the way this church does it.  The group that goes to Montreat plans the service using that year’s theme.  It makes the planning process so much easier, plus the youth are really pumped about sharing their passion and energy from Montreat with the congregation.

The youth were near perfect this year – I am amazed at how much they’ve grown in the past three years.   And we heard so many comments after about how inspired people were to set the World on Fire.   And it was actually tangible in the sign-ups for our first congregation-wide Serves Day coming up in October – we are already up to 60 people signed up, and it’s still over a month away (our goal is 100).


As much as the service was great.  People are still finding things to complain about.  We didn’t have bulletins, and this just weirded people out.   Granted there are some logistical problems with our sanctuary layout, so next year we will probably suck it up and use bulletins.  There were complaints about the music, saying it was distracting – when 98% of the people loved it – there was clapping….and even a little swaying…in a presbyterian church.

Why do people complain about this one chance the youth have to share their passion with the congregation…to plan worship that is meaningful to them? 

I feel like it all boils down to fear.  Some people are so afraid of change and that the younger generation is going to steal their church and completely take away everything they’ve known for the past 50 years.  But they won’t – these young people are incredibly insightful and sensitive and appreciative.  We even sang two hymns from our hymnal (granted the words were on the screen and there were guitars playing the music), the gloria, and the doxology – because they mean something to the youth as well.  They don’t want to burn the church down and start over – they want to use the strengths of what we have and build on them, recognizing that sometimes the way we’ve always done things doesn’t make the most sense anymore.

I was reading our tech savvy moderator’s blog this morning in which he was defending the use of social media in the church and addressing the fears that many have of this form of ministry.  And his arguments fit here as well…when we plan our worship and our programs and do the same old thing, “who are we defending and protecting?” and “who are we leaving behind?”

Granted I cringe whenever people start talking about having a “contemporary” service to attract young people.  (I’m just a big contradiction aren’t I?)  I think that just splits the church and doesn’t get at the real problem of the absence of young people in our churches.   There are many in our generation who do like organ music AND guitars…and our church is so blessed to have many musicians and many flexible folks, and we use it all.   It doesn’t have to be either/or.

But for now, the youth will continue to ask questions, to make people a little uncomfortable, to push people out of the box, to inspire, to be inspired, and to search for a way where we can all be the church together.  And I feel privileged to accompany them on this journey.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: