This whole activity could be done outdoors and you can allow creation to speak for itself. But of you are to be indoors take advantage of that situation to provide an even wider experience of creation.
a) Have people sit on the floor. If they are uncomfortable with that have them sit on chairs with an aisle in the middle.
b.) Have animal sounds recorded (either from a sounds effect tape, or bird sounds from the Ontario Science Centre, or your own back yard).
c.) You can decorate the walls with clippings from National Geographic, maps, animal pictures, models or whatever would help people focus on the splendor of creation.
d.) Instruct the people to sit in silence for the first three minutes.
e.) Have one of the members read a creation psalm to end the silence.
f.) Lead a number of songs that exalt God as the creator: “I Can’t wait to Get to Heaven”, “Fairest Lord Jesus”, “I Sing the Mighty Power of God” and others from the first sections of many hymn books. (You may also choose to read out one of the hymns in unison.)
g.) Arrange a slide presentation of breathtaking scenes of natural beauty. You cam have an instrumental solo or play an instrumental praise tape (It might be useful to get the whole set of “Praise 1-8″?). If you can’t get slides you may be able to get a film from the public library free of charge. You can turn the sound off to help the people concentrate on the Lord. (You may also want to take up the offering at this point)
h.) Expression of Praise. Lead a few choruses then lead the people into vocally expressing their wonder and awe in God’s creation. Coach the people in how to offer up original praises that come from the heart, and not just standard praise words” — hallelujah etc.
i.) Ask for two or three people to lead out in prayer for the needs of the church, individuals and the world.
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.)
Bible Refrence: Matthew 11:28-30
Gather many large rocks, not too big..but as many as you think you need….for us we didn’t have enough so they had to carry “imaginary rocks”. Youth leaders: tell the group on this walk to be completely silent. Once you get to your destination set them down and have them listen to (?”Lay your burdens down”?) tell them to reflect on one burden in particular. Then after the song ends ask for any volunteers, tell them to talk about their burden and throw it into the creek (if you don’t have a creek or pond near your church, just pitch them into the woods) I hope this helps you get your point across…it really helped me!
NOTE: Once we got down to the creek there were some gravel…those people with imaginary rocks had something to throw.
Our group struggles with making worship too serious. Sounds crazy but they lose sight of the joy of worship. To balance this we did a teaching on joy and celebration…We topped it off by passing kazoos out to all the kids and then attempted to worship with them. Everyone had a good time and it was a needed break from our usual lights off, people crying, times of worhsip.
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.
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.
Why don’t you allow other people to lead this one! Guide the group in a Bible study on the majesty of God. Assign the group Bible passages to read, such as Ps. 8, Eccl 5:1- 13 or a number of others that show that our God is a “consuming fire.” Give each of the members of the team a copy of these suggestions, but allow them to also modify them after they have read all the assigned Bible passages.
Here is the outline for the worship experience that they will lead:
a) Instruct people that they should be silent as they enter the worship area.
b) When everyone has arrived and is seated, have one member of the worship team read sections from Ecc. 5:1-7. “Stand in Awe of God” could be a banner that could be in the front of the area, or on an overhead as they enter the room.
c) Another member of the group can say something like, “We have been given an awesome opportunity because of the blood of Jesus. We are allowed to enter into the throne room of God. In ancient times if you entered the throne room and the king did not want to see you it was punishable by Death!” Hebrews chapter ten says “Let us come boldly before the throne of grace.” Let us go into the throne room of God. In ancient times if you entered the throne room and the king did not want to see you it was punishable by death!” Hebrews chapter ten says “Let us come boldly before the throne of grace.” Let us do that today, in humility, and in the knowledge that this is only possible because of the blood of Jesus. Let us enter his presence by the blood of Jesus, by allowing him to cleanse us by his blood – Let’s sing (Lord I’m Sorry, Create in Me a Clean Heart, My Eyes are Dry or any other songs of confession and commitment.)
d) Another member of the group can go on from there saying, “Now that we have been purified in Christ’s blood, as it says in I John 1:9 we can “Enter his gates with thanksgiving in our hearts and enter his courts with praise! Lets stand and do just that! (Sing I Will Enter His Gates with Thanksgiving in My Heart … and about six or seven lively worship choruses.)
e) Another member of the team can then read the account of Isaiah’s vision of God in the temple. Is. 6. Then they can say “I want you to close our eyes and envision the presence of the Lord in this place. He inhabits the praises of his people. It is not so much that we enter his presence for the Lord is everywhere. When our hearts are in the right state then are we able to finally experience Him in His fullness. Let’s continue to prepare our hearts for an encounter with God. As you close your eyes I want you to consider, meditate upon his holiness and majesty in this place right now. (Sing: He Is Lord, God, Here, Humble Thyself in the Sight of the Lord, Come Let Us Worship and Bow Down, Jesus We Enthrone You … etc.)
f) One of the members can then say, “The Lord is here. He is here in his majesty, for wherever two or more are gathered in His name he is there in the midst of them, open up to Him and experience His presence in this place.” — Then lead right in to “Lift Up Your Heads to the Coming King, Majesty, I Exalt Thee, Hallelujah etc.. “.) Following this there should be a time of praise, spontaneous and exuberant from the heart. If the worship team can be very free in worship it will definitely encourage others to voice their praises to God.
g) As the praises die down, initiate a period of silence to wait upon God. Pray in your hearts that there will be a manifestation of the Holy Spirit. After that prayer requests can be offered up for the lost, loved ones, needs of the congregation, missionaries and any special requests. This should be followed by further praise and thanks. The offering could be taken up as a final act of worship in the service.
Have everyone hold one nail in their right hand, one nail in their left hand, and keep one nail between their feet. Then have them lean against a wall in the crucifixion position with two arms stretched out. Play worship songs about the love, pain, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus. Have the lyrics on the screen so that the youths can sing along. This way they will have a better understanding of the physical pain of Jesus while he was crucified. Have them put their arms up as long as they can, and put them down when they’re tired, but put them up again as soon as possible. Their arms should be getting sore and throbbing. They will probably put their arms down to rest more and more often. Emphasize how much more Jesus was hurting with the skin on his back ripped open, the thorns on his head piercing his skull, injuries and bruises all over his body, and the nails actually nailed through the bones and veins of his wrists and ankles.
To encourage youth, lift them up, and teach them about worshipping God have a Praise & Prayer Night. In our church, we have many youth that are musically inclined (many play guitar, sing, or drums). Encourage youth to meet on a regular basis (i.e. third friday of every month) to play and sing praise and worship songs to God. Everyone can get involved, youth who don’t know how to play an instrument can sing, or bang a tamborine. Have the coordinator pre-select a set of songs, about a dozen, to teach the kids. Make copies of the music to distribute to each youth so they can practice when they go home. Next time you meet mix half songs you did from the previous month and half new ones. Open and close this time with group prayer so your group can bond with eachother and grow closer to God. Take the opportunity to teach them that worship is not a show or playing for people, but homage and adoration to God.
I listed the age group as mid-late adol. simply because there is an element of maturity needed to understand the full power of this activity. You can use your own judgement, though.
This activity also requires using fire, so please do not do this activity indoors, and have a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher ready, just in case.
I’ve used this at camp several times and it has been a life changing activity for several people I’ve known. Here’s how it works.
1. Make sure that everyone knows that this is a serious activity and that we should shift our hearts and minds into a place of worship.
2. Distribute pencils and pieces of paper (5.5 X 8.5, or roughly a piece of notebook paper cut in half) and ask the kids to write a personal letter of confession to Jesus. Tell them that no one will ever see what they are writing and that they will be burned immediately after (This helps them be more honest in what they write.) Encourage them to open up completely and honestly, since Jesus knows us so well anyway, he’d know if we were bluffing.
2. Have them find a private place to write these letters (under a tree, at a picnic table, etc). Make sure they are well seperated. Give them about 10 – 15 minutes.
3. After time is up ask them to come back to the group in silence. Have a metal bucket with you and ask them to come up one at a time. Take and light the first letter on fire and drop it in the bucket. Each of them puts their letters in the fire one by one.
4. When the last letter is put in the fire, have them make a circle around the bucket, and say a prayer of thanksgiving to Jesus for taking the sins. Allow them to watch the fire burn. This can be very powerful, to watch your sins burning away in front of your eyes.
5.After the fire has gone out, stir the ashes around in the bucket until they are completely out and have cooled. While singing “Humble Thyself in the Sight of the Lord” or some other song, have each kid come up and use the ashes to form a cross on their cheeck (I personally use cheek, because the forehead seems a bit too sacramental to me — pastors or other ordained folk can make a judgement call on that one).
End in Prayer. You might be surprised how long they leave the cross on their cheeck. I initially thought that they’d wipe it off as soon as we were done, but they kept it on for the rest of the night! It served as a tangible reminder of the love of Christ.