Sunday after Sunday, year after year, young people across the country participate in worship. What difference does it make in their lives? Most people believe that worship has a formative influence on the worshiper. But how do we understand that influence? What keeps youth involved in church and bolsters their faith?
This service centers on the theme of giving thanks for country, church, and children. Each of the three sections features a litany, meditation, and prayer that involve a number of participants from the congregation.
It’s 102 degrees Fahrenheit outside and you’re feeling every degree. Another car alarm goes off across the narrow, pothole-ridden street; you pay no mind and neither does the police unit that’s just rolled by. The inhabitants of row houses lined block after block spill out onto their front porch stoops because it’s hotter inside than out. A mother, too young to vote, cradles her infant as she watches her nieces and nephews joyously splash in the opened fire hydrant offering cool relief.
Most Sundays when I go to worship, I feel like 80 percent of me stays in the car in the parking lot and the other 20 percent actually makes it through the front door and into the pew.” I’ve never forgotten that comment because it points to a deep truth about the character of worship: In worship we are invited to bring our entire being, together with the community of faith, into the presence of the Lord.
How do we keep our young people in the church? What is it about our congregations and our worship services that make young people leave? How do we transform our worship to make teens and young adults feel they are part of the body?
Naomi (college junior): When I came to college as a freshman, I was really excited about the new experience. But I couldn't believe how lonely I was. I missed my family and friends, of course. But Sunday was especially bad, because I really missed my church.