Shake It Up: Three Under-Utilized Elements of Student Programming

One of the greatest threats to the large-group worship gathering for students is the monotonous boredom that can mount with a predictable worship experience. A college professor of mine used to say, “Never do the same thing always,” and it was some of the best pieces of advice I ever received.

The short time of worship that youth pastors are afforded with their groups each week is a precious commodity that must be stewarded well. How this time is allotted and executed could be the difference in students having a life changing experience or just a chance to catch up on some sleep. The typical student worship service consists of three things: goofy games, corporate singing, and relevant teaching.

I would argue that there are other elements that have been under-utilized and should become a rotating part of every youth ministry gathering.

For centuries the Church has taken part in times of prayer during their gatherings. Often these prayers were guided by liturgical readings and confessions. The weekly student gathering (in person or online) may be the only time each week some of these young people slow down enough to spend time in prayer.

Consider crafting an intentional few minutes during your worship experience for guided prayer. Invite the group to take part in a liturgical reading or invite the group to pray over different topics that are introduced during the prayer time. Prayer does not have to be a throwaway moment or simply a transitional component, it can be an intentional part of your programming.

Each week there are many students who will gather for your worship experience who have seen God work in their lives in some kind of way or another.

Giving them the opportunity to share these experiences with their peers can help solidify their faith and help encourage those around them. This can be a risky element to introduce, but the reward may outweigh the risk. Create a controlled environment for these testimonies by giving a certain time limit or by having the individual write them down to be read aloud. There is something powerful that happens when a group of people give testimony to God’s powerful work in their lives.

There are many moments throughout the worship experience where it would be appropriate to allow students to read scripture over the group. This could be an element that begins the time of worship or one that ends the time of worship. They could read the scripture being taught in the lesson before the speaker begins. This is a great way to get student involvement and a way to give a fresh element to your time with your youth.

Consider having music played during the reading of the scriptures as a way of making it a more intentional moment. God’s Word is a powerful tool in our student ministry arsenal, and yet it often goes over-looked.

Do not get caught in the trap of monotony. Stretch yourself by trying new things and you might just see new life in your worship experiences