4 Best Practices For Leading Worship For Youth

4 BEST PRACTICES FOR LEADING WORSHIP FOR YOUTH

INTRODUCTION

How do we go about leading youth in worship?

There are particular dynamics that come into play when leading worship in a youth setting that we should be aware of as worship leaders.

You may be asked to lead worship for youth on a regular basis, or you may be asked to lead youth in worship as a one-off request.

In our day, some of the worship expressions that are the norm in local church services are very similar to what may be happening in the youth expressions of worship in that same local church.

However, there are some key differences in how we should think about designing a unique youth worship environment in order to maximize the impact of the teenage worship and discipleship experience.

1. What are the sounds of the day?
2. Know their stage of development.
3. Age matters.
4. Be in their life.

PRACTICE 1 – WHAT ARE THE SOUNDS OF THE DAY?

What are the sounds of the day?

We must first remember that the 1970s were almost 50 years ago! The 1980s? Almost 40 years ago. The 1990s? Almost 30 years ago!

It’s important to understand this when we think about the styles and sounds that connect with this current generation.

The musical palette of today’s youth is often complex and diverse. Although the music we choose could draw on some degree of older content, there is a large body of new, contemporary songs and styles of which we should become aware.

Music styles actually do matter in worship. Sometimes it’s been said that anyone should be able to connect with God through whatever is presented to them – regardless of musical style.

Most of those who say such things are typically the ones determining the style of worship in their own environment!
Human beings don’t work that way. The sound matters. So do the songs.

We need to get familiar with the musical affinities of those youth we will be leading in our church – and head that direction. However, a 50 year old playing a song that is distinctly designed for a 20 year old is also not the answer.

We want to be authentic to who we are, while being aware of the sounds and styles that move that particular youth congregation.

PRACTICE 2 – KNOW THEIR STAGE OF DEVELOPMENT

Know their stage of development.

The teen years can be very emotional for young people (and their parents!). Teenagers are doing what psychologists call ‘individuating’ – working out who they are within their families and the world around them.

They’re figuring out who the ‘I’ is that’s inside of them, and are searching for an accepting tribe – the ‘we’ – around them.

We want to do things that serve and connect with the emotions that come with this process, while not simply feeding an emotionally-based spirituality in our young people.

Emotions are a wonderful gateway for youth to connect with God (and music can create a very emotional experience), but we can’t just leave them there. We all know that an emotionally based faith only holds up until the first crisis hits.

Reiterate to your teens, even as you lead, that emotions are a wonderful servant, but a terrible master.

We want to develop them as disciples who are learning how to have a conversation with God through music, expressing their emotions to Him, and allowing Him to express His love to them.

Then, connect them in ways musically that unify them (songs they know together) and bind them together (big choruses they all will sing).

PRACTICE 3 – AGE MATTERS

To some degree, the age of the worship leader matters.

It’s often good to have a worship leader that is near to the age of the youth they are leading. In the teenage years, a worship leader in his/her twenties is someone the youth can look up to, and see as a role model.

There might be someone their own age who is growing as a worship leader. That works for them, too.

There is a sense of permission, a sense of connectedness, a sense of ownership of the worship experience that happens when someone our own age is leading worship.

At the same time, don’t let that hinder you. If this is where God is calling you to be, don’t let your age hold you back. Lead with passion.

Do your best to care about the needs of the youth. Make sure you’re staying authentic to who you are. Lead with a sense of integrity.

Being who you are is more meaningful in worship leadership than you trying to mimic the sounds that they love – especially when they don’t connect deeply with you.

PRACTICE 4 – BE IN THEIR LIFE

To successfully lead, the worship leader must be in their life.

Your leadership must extend beyond the musical moment. Yes, you’re planning a set, you’re welcoming them in, you’re giving them songs to sing, and you’re giving them opportunities to respond to God in a musical environment – but those teenagers need to feel like you’re connected to their lives.

Be in their story. Be part of their overall youth experience. Encourage their development in all aspects of life.

Then, in that worship moment, they are more ready to give their hearts to it. Why? Because they feel safe with you, they feel known by you, they feel like they trust you – and they feel like you have taken the time to see life from their perspective.

This brings a sweetness – a sense of shared connectedness to God – in those gathered youth worship settings. That connectedness affects worship even before a note of music is played.

ACTION STEPS

Try at least one idea the next time you lead.

Make an effort to connect with the youth outside of the musical moment. Be aware of their stage of development. Nurture their interaction with God by focusing on music they can engage with in the worship setting.

And, of course, have fun with it. This generation of youth is the Church of today, and we are building and encouraging them to be disciples who disciple others into their twilight years – building the Church of tomorrow.

::

GET FREE WORSHIP TEAM DEVOTIONALS

Just sign up for my email list, and receive a download of FREE worship team devotionals (and a few extras!).

SUBSCRIBE HERE.

 

RELEASES FEB. 8, 2022 | Brazos press

Sheltering Mercy helps us rediscover the rich treasures of the Psalms—through free-verse prayer renderings of their poems and hymns—as a guide to personal devotion and meditation.

The church has always used the Psalms as part of its prayer life, and they have inspired countless other prayers. This book contains 75 prayers drawn from Psalms 1-75, providing lyrical sketches of what authors Ryan Smith and Dan Wilt have seen, heard, and felt while sojourning in the Psalms. Each prayer is a response to the Psalms written in harmony with Scripture. These prayers help us quiet our hearts before God and welcome us into a safe place amid the storms of life.

This artful, poetic, and classic devotional book features compelling custom illustrations and foil-stamped hardcover binding, offering a fresh way to reflect on and pray the Psalms. Co-written with Ryan Whitaker Smith, Brazos Publishing.

Pre-Order below, and join my email list, to get author notes and updates about the book and events around it. If purchasing for Christmas gifts, soon you’ll be able to download a Christmas Gift Certificate PDF here so you have something for under the tree!).

Get free eBooks and updates

Enter your email address to receive free ebooks, encouragements, updates, and news about events.
I'll only email you occasionally, and I always seek to send something that encourages you.