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.
Conducted during a retreat. The participants came from many different places. The goal was to try to respect their uniqueness while moving them into community during a call to worship. With masking tape, a circle is formed on the floor for each person. Lights are dimmed and quiet music is played. Group members are called into the room and remain silent… then say “Let’s worship God.” Each worshipper sits in a circle facing different directions. They close their eyes and reflect on what they left behind. Ask: “What person’s face do you most vividly see? What are this person’s problems? What things have been left undone?” Then ask youth to focus on a nearby person. Ask them to think about that person’s world, leave their circles and sit in pairs. Encourage pairs to share their earlier reflections. Then you can lead the pairs to join up with a new pair. Continue until a new community has been created.
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.
Some of the most fulfilling times of worship with our youth group have been in the dark with just a minimum amount of light. Everyone is less concerned about who’s looking at whom and is able to focus on God. When weather permits we will hold our times of worship under the stars, in the woods, by the lake, etc. God’s creation inspires worship of the Creator. Other variations are to turn out most of the lights in your meeting room then sing and pray in “candlelight”.
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 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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.