This versatile drama presentation, based on the Heidelberg Catechism’s first question and answer, can be included in a worship service in a variety of settings and stages. The reading can be adapted to include five to twenty or more student readers. For Part 3, you’ll need three different colors of T-shirts for three small groups of two to three students—each of the small groups puts on a matching color T-shirt to identify them as a group. (Inexpensive colored T-shirts are available at most large craft stores.)
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.
When children are young, they learn words that build relationships. Some come easily: “Help!” “Why?” Parents and grandparents persistently teach them to say to others: “Thank you.” “I’m sorry.” We celebrate as these words become habits. When a child without prompting tells her brother, “I’m sorry,” we know that these words are beginning to shape her life and her relationships.
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.
The computer is on. I’m staring at the screen, stuck on a phrase. Seated on chairs arranged in a half circle around me are the members of my pastor’s class. Their handwritten creeds lie on my desk. We’re involved in the creative process of pulling together their individual efforts into a statement of faith that speaks for all of us—something that includes an idea, a turn of phrase, a metaphor that each person can claim as his or her contribution to the whole. It’s hard work.
In Tales of Tittivillus, Vorsteeg, a United Methodist minister, offers the reader a hilarious collection of dialogues between church leaders and Tittivillus, a medieval devil who delights in subverting worship. Since Tittivillus is fluent in Latin, all of the sixty or so vignettes are titled in Latin, Vorsteeg's intent in producing this little paperback was "to offer in a humorous way some thoughts, suggestions, and viewpoints to stimulate, enrich, and improve our practice of worship."
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.
Read responsively the Ten Commandments, alternated with some of our Lord's moral teachings (e.g., the Sermon on the Mount). You'll find a good example on page 1013 of the worship edition of the 1987 Psalter Hymnal.
Hymn of Repentance: "Out of Need and Out of Custom" [PsH 259]
Read a selection of verses from Proverbs regarding sons and daughters honoring their moms and dads.
Prayer for Illumination:
"We confess that sometimes going to church is something we have been conditioned to do. Some of us might not even want to be here today, but felt we had to come. Speak to each of us individually. Call us by name. Your sheep hear your voice when you call them by name."
The retreat was coming to a conclusion. All week the young people had been struggling with the issue of leadership. On this final morning they would have a chance to exercise that leadership by planning and leading our worship together.
We waited eagerly to see what they would come up with. Would it be something totally new, filled with the rhythm of the music they live by? Would it be irreverent to our adult eyes and ears? Would we truly be able to worship with them?
What is it that makes senior pastors, youths, and worship mix like oil and water? Having recently moved from a ten-year sojourn as youth minister into the senior pastorate, I wonder if I too will be a victim of what all pastors and youth workers fear when it comes to worship— the dreaded Eutychus Syndrome, described in Acts 20:7-12.
My husband and I have been church youth leaders for almost eight years—maybe that's longer than people should.
It's not that I don't love the job. There are times when we're coming home in our van and the whole vehicle bounces with the life of the kids in the back, singing and laughing and teasing. At moments like that I know there's nowhere I'd rather be. Sometimes the kids say some really moving things to Tom and me too—things that make us think we're being what we should be, people they can trust.