Posted in Avondale United Methodist Church, Church

Sunday Evening Meditation

I had planned to get something together ahead of time for this Sunday’s post, and then I was going to do something quick midday. Now it is evening, and I still don’t have a post up. So I’ll just do a “short” meditation.

Our church had a meeting today of the parents of students in the youth group. It was precipitated by the decision (known for awhile now), of our current youth director, Mark Whittaker, to step down from the position, due to family and stage of life reasons.Betsy and I attended, and gave some input, so I don’t want this seen as some sort of arm-chair quarterback comment. But the issues and questions being addressed are ones that I think have been discussed by people ministering to youth, and church youth in particular, for my entire lifetime. So I wanted to frame some of those issues.

(Note to self, If I had the time, i.e., need to take the time, Mark is someone that really deserves to have a profile feature done on him. Perhaps I should put together a people profile feature on my Avondale Enterprises blog.)

The question is one of how to get the youth engaged and involved, to keep them interested and feel a part of the church. In the past 50 years people have been suggesting giving them their own music, their own services, their own activities. But do their activities truly teach, or only titillate?

I think both are possible, but I am concerned about activities that divide or bring the youth out of the adult worship. Dividing the church along generational lines, or lines of musical preference, or any other lines, is breaking up the family, the community, the communion we are meant to be. One of the concerns we had at the mega-church we came from was how we became segregated into the people of the same age and socio-economic class. One of the things we like about where we are is how the relationships cross all those divides.We are more one body when we fellowship and worship with the people different from ourselves.

I think this blog post on youth and worship expresses many important points.  We have forgotten many of the roles of worship.

One of the things people think is that youth need “contemporary worship”, and “contemporary music” in their worship. This isn’t new. It was said 50 years ago, and is still being said now.  And just as it draws in some youth, it repels others. To assume that this is the right thing for all youth does a disservice to many youth.

Yes, you might say, but leaving them in “traditional” worship does a disservice to the greater number. (Here comes Star Trek, Vulcan saying, “The good of the many outweighs the good of the few, or the one.” But we in the church aren’t Vulcans, and that isn’t Christ’s calling either.) When I read this blog post, I agree with it, at it disagrees with the idea that “traditional” worship does disservice to the greater number.

The linked post reminds us that there is a formative, educational function to worship, not just entertainment value. It teaches that anything truly important requires effort and work. It also requires efforts on the part of parents to model good worship: passing of the peace, singing from the hymnal, the mode of prayer, recitation of the liturgy.

It also encourages us not to sell kids short. They are capable of mastering these spiritual disciplines. And the more the world rejects Christ, the more important become the Spiritual Disciplines.

Am I against “contemporary” music? Against “contemporary” forms of worship. Not at all. But they shouldn’t be used because they are contemporary.Using something because of where it lies on the timeline of history is probably the worst reason for the church to choose it. We serve an eternal God and Savior — our modes of worship should similarly be chosen with the eternal in mind.

It is a curious paradox to me how people are wanting us to be counter-cultural in our faith by seeing how well we can mimic modern culture.

I came out of today’s meeting with certain concerns about some of the proposals, but also a lot of encouragement about the hearts of those attending. I’m sure we will find a solution that fits the eternal nature of the God we serve, and draws upon the past and present to translate the eternal truths of the faith to the next generation.