Part of my new job is the planning and execution of a new youth service on Sunday mornings. In the past, our youth group has met on Sunday mornings for Sunday school, which was mostly just the kids of adults who went to classes, and on Tuesday nights, which was tough because of school activities and changing locations. The two groups were almost entirely different, resulting in a very haphazard and disconnected youth group. The only time everyone was in the same place was during main service on Sunday morning. So we brought youth group to them.
Today was our third service, and I am feeling really good about it. I feel like this was a big test for me, and I’m excited to have something of a victory as I start to figure out what I’m doing in this job.
Having church in a school is a lot of work. We have to build church every Saturday morning and take it down every Sunday afternoon. We’ve put a lot of thought into creating an atmosphere that is welcoming and comfortable – anything to get rid of the elementary school cafeteria feeling. We build a little cafe section right as you walk in, offering free coffee and selling snacks to benefit our Compassion child. Worship takes place in front of a big dark curtain (made from bedsheets I found on clearance!), keeping you from seeing all the tables and chairs stacked in the back. I think we’ve got a good thing going as far as the layout of the room goes. But every week we have to build it from scratch, then tear it down and pack it neatly into a trailer that holds everything we need to have church. It’s a little taxing.
We keep them active in the first part of the morning, playing a big game and doing silly giveaway and joke segments. Worship is led by two brothers, one of whom has two kids in the youth group. Worship was something I was really worried about… because of the format of the group in the past, corporate worship isn’t something they’ve ever done on a consistent basis. It kind of came down to the wire when we were looking for someone to lead worship, and these guys are exactly what we needed. They sound great together and they put a lot of thought into their song choices.
Rather than spending 20 minutes preaching at the kids while they zone out each week, we decided to break them out into small groups: junior high boys, junior high girls, and high school. Everyone does the same lesson, but they are in the groups where they feel the most comfortable. So far the format has served us really well. We’ve seen a lot of new faces each week, and giving them the chance to meet a few kids at a time seems to be making them more comfortable.
I really feel good about the service so far. We’ve made minor adjustments as we’ve gone, and I’m sure it will look much different in six months than it did this morning. At this point I’m just glad it hasn’t been a disaster!
But more than all of that… Sunday mornings energize me. My time in the office can be draining, and I don’t feel productive a lot of the time. But being in the service with those kids reminds me of what it is I’m doing. Making them play crazy games, hearing them sing, listening to their questions, talking about life and dating and school and camp and whatever else they come up with. I really love it.
I think maybe I’ll stick around for a while.