The gospels record seven last statements that Jesus made on the cross. Each one has significance for believers today. Each one gives greater insight into the mind and the suffering of Christ. Begin the worship time with seven lit candles. Turn out the lights in the room and introduce the meaning of the worship time. Invite the worshippers to participate in the scene of the crucifixion. Have seven members of the group read the sayings at the appropriate times. The order could be:
1. Read the saying.
2. Lead a song that relates to that saying.
3. Have one person pray a short prayer.
4. Then blow out one of the candles. Have a time of praise in the dark when ALL the candles have been blown out.
We did this one year during our annual retreat. We prep the room to make it darker to create a worshipful environment. I first suggested that worship to God is like writing a love letter to God and led them into a few worship songs. After that, while music still playing on the background, I pull out a plain transparency on the overhead projector. I submitted to them that we want to write God a love letter publicly together as a corporate worship to Him. I invited them to come up one by one to write something on the transparency in the form of “I thank You because…” At first it took awhile for the first person to come up. But after awhile, students (and adult helpers) keep coming up to write on the transparency – make sure you prepare more transparencies in case they get filled up. It was a great experience as the whole group watches each other give thanks to God, hence, a corporate worship. At the end, we close with a prayer. It was a very touching experience for our students.
The focus of this worship experience is the marvelous works of God. The possibilities of this kind of service are numerous! Pick four or five miracles that you wish to highlight. Post headlines in the room that resemble newspaper clippings. E.g. “GOD WIPES OUT ISRAEL’S ENEMIES…AGAIN!” “Jericho collapses at God’s command!” Choose songs that relate to God’s triumphs, miracles, power etc. A few days in advance approach someone who will be there to give a testimony of how God has accomplished the miraculous in their life. E.g. transformation, deliverance, protection, providence, etc. Allow a time for people to praise God in the congregation as King David said that he loved to do. Have each person stand and announce one thing that amazes them about God. It can be something from the Word, something from their experience or something God has done for someone else. Limit the people to one or two sentences of praise. Give them examples like: I praise God because of the way He parted the Red Sea.” or “I praise God because He has never given up on me.” or “I praise God because He still speaks to people today like when he told Hudson Taylor to go to China!” End the worship time with corporate loud and lively praise. Songs that could be sung are: “Our God Reigns”, “We Clap Our Hands with All Our Might”, “Ye Shall Go Out with Joy”, “I Will Sing Unto the Lord for He Has Triumphed Marvelously…” etc. (El Shaddai may be a good solo if you wish to have a solo.)
Set up a game of Jenga, but have pieces of paper blu-tacked to each Jenga piece, with stuff written on it, such as names of God, or promises of God. Get the youth sitting in a circle, and play Jenga. Each time they take a piece, they have to read what is on it, and say a short thank-you prayer for what they have read. If the tower falls over, just build it up again. Afterwards we wrote some of the names of God that were on the blocks onto A4 sheets and stuck them around the room. The youth then went around the room and spent a few moments at each one, reflecting and saying thank you to God.
We are the body of Christ. When we are gathered together we are more than just the sum of the collected parts. We need to affirm this reality in our worship. People need to sense that it was better worshipping with the whole body than being by themselves in their own room at home. Unfortunately this is not always the case, because they do have a bad experience specifically because of an the people around them. Meaningful involvement and warm experiences should help believers to appreciate worship within the context of the body of Christ. People who continually talk through the worship time, or having annoying behaviour that distracts or irritates those around him/her, should be approached lovingly to discover the reason behind their behaviour and confronted about how this is annoying others. Praying daily for those individuals who exhibit this behaviour has had a profound effect on them.
Here are some ideas that can be used to promote this sense of community in worship:
1.) Hold hands: for prayer, for praise and for songs. (Ease the group into this and remember to indicate when they can let go.
2.) Have them gather, standing together at the altar or the front of the room (especially if they are confined to pews most of the time).
3.) Let them sing in rounds, or in parts. Emphasize that harmony adds beauty but requires more than one person.
4.) Encourage improvisation. This allows individuals to create harmony and special touches to the songs. You can even distribute maracas, and tambourines at times.
5.) Do things in unison. Try reading the Bible (in the same version) or songs (on overheads or from the hymnbook) all together. Or have them repeat after you in unison. Some action songs that are not too childish can also create a sense of functioning as a body. Clapping together, or in special beats can have a similar effect.
6.) Provide interaction time in worship. Allow people a time in the service to greet those around them, shake their hands or hug, or to get acquainted. They can pray together in little groups, break bread together at communion, or choose songs together as a group.
7.) Allow them to pray for one another. Ask those requesting prayer to raise a hand, while those around them lay hands on them and pray.
8.) Promote giving as an act of worship, praise, thanksgiving and obedience. Take up offerings for special needs and allow them to see that as a body they can do so much more than as an individual.
9.) Share praise reports, and prayer requests of individuals who cannot be there or for missionaries connected with the church, sponsored children, world needs etc.
A sample body worship experience may include:
a) A body shaped graffiti sheet that each person must sign as they arrive.
b) Songs that affirm unity five or six) to begin the worship time.
c) God bless you testimonies (i.e.: testimonies that tell how God has used someone in the group to bless you. It must be someone who is present. That person must then give a testimony of how God has used someone else in the room to bless them, and so on).
d) This can be followed by a prayer time either in little groups, or needs could be suggested from the group. The group then agrees together in prayer as two or three people lead out.
e) Corporate praise can be offered — hands joined and raised while singing “We Are One in the Bond of Love” or any praise songs that affirm that WE worship Him.
This was a devotion that proved to be great success.
Set up food and drinks (you can also add music to make the time even more festive). We had soda in plastic wine glasses (with lemon wedges) and finger foods.
Start your program about ten minutes after it is supposed to start. When it does start, block the door so that no one else can come in. Then welcome the youths who are there. Invite them to mingle, have fun, eat some food for the next 1000 seconds. During that time set up two groups of chairs – the groups must be facing each other.
Whenever someone comes late, they are told that they must stay outside. Even if they had been there before and had left to come back, they weren’t allowed in,(we had people trying to sneak in the backdoor). At the end of 1000 seconds (approx. 16 minutes), let those who are early sit on one group of chairs. Then lead those who were late to the other side.
Ask one of the early youths to read Matthew 25: 1 – 13.
Then ask one or two (or three) of the latecomers why they were late.
Ask one of the latecomers to read Luke 12: 35 to 40.
Then ask the early youth why they were early.
Afterward read Luke 14: 16 – 24.
We then asked a few of the youths to explain the purpose of the exercise.
We need to be ready for when Jesus comes. Which side do you want to be on when Jesus actually comes? In the Kingdom rejoicing? Or outside trying to get in? Don’t let any excuse keep you out of heaven.
Have you ever noticed people talk about some product they really believe in, or some movie they enjoyed, food they love, car they want or person they admire? They really talk it up sometimes, and you can hardly shut them up. But when it comes to talking about Jesus, the same people have very little to say. It is a sad situation that people can so easily praise the things of this world and have nothing enthusiastic to say about their savior! This experience is designed to help God’s children to be more able to “brag” about Jesus.
a) During the week, interview teens about their favourite rock group. Ask questions like: What makes this group so good? How do you feel about this group? What would you do to get tickets to see them in concert? What does their music do for you? etc. If possible record the interviews on tape or video. At the worship time play, or read their “praises” to the group. Explain that to praise is both telling God how good He is and letting others know how good He is.
b) Choose a short psalm of praise, or a portion of a longer one (8-10 verses). Distribute it to the group (photocopied) and do a reading in unison. Then sing a few songs of praise.
c) Now allow them to “boast in Christ” as Paul said our only boasting should be. Choose volunteers to stand and brag about how great Jesus is! (If people are reluctant, give them time to gain the courage or to think as you go into another song of praise. Try to create a spontaneous natural atmosphere. The same kind that exists when two boys are trying to claim that their favourite car is better than the others.
d) Close the worship with a challenge to praise Jesus, or to brag about him to their worldly friends.
e) A solo of praise, either written by someone in the group or chosen by someone in the group would be very fitting.
I saw the “Straight Acoustic Worship” (in EGAD!’s Worship section) article on this site and adapted it to suit my youth group. The group (about 10 persons) sat in a circle surrounding lit candles. The lights were turned off so there was a worship mood. There was a white candle for each person and in the middle a single red candle. During the prayer session we sang worship songs and prayed for each person. What made it special was that each time we prayed for a person they would get up and blow out their candle which meant that they were giving their concerns to God. When all the white candles were blown out we listened to a song on friendship then discussed our own friendship with Jesus. I was surprised by the contributions made by even the shy ones. When the discussion was through we all got up and blew out the red candle together signifying our recommitment to our friendship with God. the whole night was filled with meditation and true worship that is after the giggles were through. When they settled down the young people showed that youth can worship too.
Old Testament religion seemed to revolve around offerings and temple worship. Everything was given in accordance to the levitical laws. Offerings date back even further though — right to the time of Cain and Abel. One offering was acceptable the other was not. In the New Testament Jesus speaks of two men who went to the temple to pray. One prayed “about himself”. The other beat his chest and begged for mercy! (Lk 18:10-14) One’s prayer was accepted, one was not. The living sacrifice in Rom. 12:1,2 is the acceptable offering in the N.T. The real acceptable offering to God in the O.T. was not so much the blood of bulls and goats but obedience and a contrite heart.(see I Sam 15:22, Isa 66:1+2 et al). HERE IS THE CHALLENGE: COMMUNICATE THIS IN LESS THAN FORTY-FIVE MINUTES!
Here is my suggestion, but you can probably come up with one that will suit your group much better.
a) Choose four people the week before to compose two short skits. One will portray Cain and Abel, the other skit will portray the self-righteous man and the publican [Lk 18-10-14]. (They only need be three minutes each!)
b) Play the song “To Obey is Better Than Sacrifice” [by Keith Green- No Compromise] or have it done as a solo while the people are in silent meditation.
c) Sing the song “Lord You Are More Precious Than Silver”. Have the group suggest modern substitutes for the words. Sing the song using the words that they suggest (e.g. Lord you are more precious than my friends…).
d) You can take up a few different types of offerings that day.
i.) A pledge to God given on a slip of paper.
ii.) A vow of obedience in a certain area of their life.
iii.) Human Offering Plate! One by one the people can step into a rope circle on the floor at the front. When everyone is in the circle they could sing a song of surrender or dedication to Jesus. If there are too many people they can go up one row at a time or something while an offertory hymn or song is playing. The leader could pray over each group that goes to the front.
e.)If there is still some time remaining, songs of dedication, obedience and service should be sung at that time.
The Abrahamic Covenant described in Genesis 15 is a graphic tale of God’s commitment to us. Symbolically animals are torn apart and only God passes through the pieces indicating that he alone bears the penalty if the blood convenant is broken. In this worship activity students will carry a cross through items of value to the students that are laid out on the floor of the room. The cross is the place where God paid for the broken covenant. A detailed reading of the passage must precede the activity and students should only pass through the items laid out on a voluntary basis. Following this solemn activity songs of praise should be offered up in thanks for what God has done for us through Christ, honouring his commitment in the covenant