USING OUR YOUNG PEOPLE IN WORSHIP
Dear Elders –
Thanks so much for being willing to get our young people involved in worship! If you were present on March 17 when Rachel Ninan read the Scripture and Seth Jurgensen offered one of the prayers, you saw how focused they were, and how seriously they took their responsibilities.
As I mentioned in my e-mail to you, according to Fuller Theological Seminary's "Sticky Faith" program, which Dave Yeagley presented at Bellevue on Sabbath afternoon, March 17, 2012, it's not simply an Adventist phenomenon that kids tend to drift away from church during their college years. One of the reasons seems to be that young people in that age group don't feel really needed. It's very possible that a major reason I myself remained in the Adventist church was probably that, in my little South Dakota church, I had to put my talents to use. I was, definitely, honestly needed.
I'm hoping that if we can get our young people in a regular rotation of doing meaningful things in and for the church, we could help form within them the feeling that, yes, they are truly needed, and can truly contribute.
If you’d like to follow Sherry Lacey’s plan for involving the young people this way, here’s a basic summary. I’ve asked her to go into greater detail, below, about how she interacts with the young folks.
A POSSIBLE WAY TO INVOLVE OUR YOUNG PEOPLE IN THE WORSHIP SERVICE
Scripture Reading – The young person reads the morning’s Scripture. If this is in the form of a responsive reading, two young people could participate, one reading the light print and the other leading the audience in responding with the dark print.
Celebrations and Concerns – The presiding elder leads out here, as usual.
Prayer – Another young person prays a general prayer. Then the presiding elder prays, alluding to the celebrations and concerns.
I asked Sherry Lacey, who was responsible for engaging Rachel and Seth, to share suggestions as to how she would interact with the young people when getting them involved in this way. (After her suggestions I’ve included a list of young people, which will be added to from time to time.)
2 weeks before the Sabbath you’re presiding elder: Pray first, and then choose and ask the child/youth if they’d be willing to _____(specific task). Make it seem easy and doable. Smile a lot and be warm and encouraging. If they say, “Yes,” let their parent know they agreed to the task and coordinate with their schedule. Get contact info from parent (email, phone). This is good even for teenagers. Follow up with email/phone call thanking them for their willingness to take part, and make sure you copy to the parent as well. If you’d like something printed about the child in the bulletin, ask for permission and information from both parent and child.
If the young person says “No,” ask them if there’s something they’d rather do instead. If they say they’re too shy, say you understand and give them an example of something you didn’t think at one time you could do, and encourage them to come tell you when they think they might be interested in trying sometime in the future. But let them know that you felt prompted by Jesus to ask them to help out. Don’t use pressure and control, but be encouraging and loving instead.
5-6 days before the Sabbath: Contact pastor/church office to get his scripture and the preferred Bible version. Type out the scripture and email it to the child’s home so that he or she can practice reading or memorizing it. If they’re giving prayer, tell them briefly what subjects are nice to have in their prayer. If you’ve collected information about the child for the bulletin, email this to the church office for the bulletin by Tuesday. Tell the young person to join the pastor and elders in the elder’s room before the service. Let the young person know the order of service, when to come up and how they’ll be participating, where they’ll sit, and a few ideas on appropriate attire. Emphasize that the information on dress is for their comfort and not for some church prescribed mandate or protocol.
Sabbath morning: Find the young person (and parent if they’re young) and go over the schedule, again. Reassure the youth that they’ll do just great and thank them for their ministry to Jesus and the church. When in the elders’ room and on the platform, be the “go-to” person for the youth in case they have questions or need further instructions or reminders.
Smile a lot when you talk with them. Emphasize how fun and rewarding it is to minister for Jesus! Try to introduce them to the congregation, if possible, and express your joy at their participation. If the child does not arrive on time to participate or doesn’t arrive at all, be sure to connect with them later, minimizing his/her embarrassment. Tell them you’ll definitely ask them, again, and be a bit more diligent about the reminders the next time. And, be prepared on Sabbath morning to cover for the youth—just in case. Commitment and follow-thru is a learned behavior. Look how old we are and how we still make mistakes (smile).
After the church service: Thank them and their parents for the wonderful job they did. Soothe them if they feel something didn’t go well and minimize the problem. Remember, perfection is only for angels! Find something specific to “call out” as a special talent in their presentation and tell them they did so well, you’ll definitely ask them to help, again!
For me, being an elder, is not only encouraging but a chance to train others to replace me. What better way to minister than by bringing the best out in others—especially our precious children and youth! After all, they’ll be standing in our place someday. The way we treat them today will influence how they treat their church youth someday and how our church will carry forward until we meet around the throne in heaven.
A LIST OF YOUNG PEOPLE WHO MIGHT BE WILLING TO BE INVOLVED THIS WAY
Note: Beside each young person’s name I will be putting the date when he or she served on the platform, which helps you know which haven't taken part yet. This list, by the way, is a work in progress. You may wish to use kids from two different age groups.
PRIMARY (others may be added soon)
Rachel Ninan – 17 Mar 2012
Seth Jurgensen. – 17 Mar 2012
Ted & Janelle Bucher
Gary & Jennifer Gonthier
Ritchie Hammen (during breaks & summer)
Michael Momohara (during breaks & summer)
Alivia Nye (during breaks & summer)
Alex Palmer (during breaks & summer)
Steve & Kirstin Patrick
Brandon & Angie Taylor
Micah & Jillian Wessman