Free file for youth pastors:
Tonight is one of those nights. I’m still in my office and its almost 11pm. We just had a great night with our student ministry and our college ministry after that…so I’m still a little wired. I thought I’d take a minute and just write a little on how we order our student worship service. It really seems to be flowing, engaging, effective, worshipful, and timely. Could a youth pastor ask for more than that? To be as specific and helpful as I can for you, I’ll just tell you what and how we did tonight since it was a pretty normal night for us.
5 – 6pm: Praise Band Practice. Our pastor of worshp is way cool, so I hand all of this over to him as he does a way better job than I ever could.
6 – 6:25pm: We open our doors for the students to come and hang out. This seems to work a lot better than to leave time at the end. Our students love to go out to eat together after the service, so it makes more sense for us to cultivate fellowship before the service begin. During this time we scroll all of our announcements on our screens, we play loud-cool Christian music (anything from Family Force Five, to Hawk Nelson, to Jeremy Camp, etc.), and I try to get around and greet every student there.
6:25 – 6:30pm: We play a 5 minute countdown timer and turn up the music to direct everyone to their seats. We also turn the lights down low to set the mood for the first song.
6:30-6:35: We sing our first song. We have found that starting out with a fun worship song works better than starting out with a game or with announcements. Starting off with a worship song really sets the tone for the rest of the service. We’ve tried to do the super crazy worship “pump-up” songs such as “Sing Like the Saved,” but for us it just gets more awkward than fun. Tonight we did “One Name Under Heaven” and it was awesome!
6:35-6:40: I’ll welcome everyone and thank them for coming. I’ll tell everyone to turn off their cell phones…all in a fun way of course. Then I’ll lead them in a game. I usually come up with my games the day of the service, and they’ll almost always have a direct connection to the message. Tonight, since we were studying the census in the book of Numbers, our game was very simple. The first student who could come up and tell me exactly how many people were in the room at that time…wins. The catch is, everyone can move around all they want, but no one can leave, hide, or come in. Our number tonight was 74. In other services during this time, we have played funny videos, other games, and other contests.
6:40 – 7:00: I’ll then finish our announcements, and I’ll ask everyone to bow their heads and close their eyes. I think prayer should be a part of every service. Sometimes I ask the students to turn to a neighbor and pray in pairs. Other times I ask them to stand and pray in 3’s. Tonight I just asked them to personally and silently pray that God would bless us with an awesome service. Then I have one of our student praise band members pray. After they pray, they lead us in 3 more songs that tie into the message. Tonight we sang “Sweetly Broken”, “Jesus Paid It All”, and “God of this City.” And let me tell you…our praise band rocks! They are really good. We have an accoustic guitarist, an electrice guitarist, a saxophone player who also plays the keyboard (no, not at the same time), a bassist, a drummer, and 3 to 4 singers. Not only our praise band, but our students passionately worship. They sing loud, and they aren’t afraid to express themselves to God in worship. I’m truly amazed at every worship service.
7:00 – 7:40: Tonight I started out the sermon with a couple video clips from Home Alone. I first showed the trailor to Home Alone 1, and then I showed my favorite scene from Home Alone 2. It was a hit. I like to preach long and strong. I preach a good, solid 30-40 minutes on every sermon. I want our students to get used to sitting and listening to the Word of God. To be honest, they do sit, they do listen, they don’t talk, they respect the Word, they take notes, and they can tell me what it was about afterwards. God has just blessed them with spiritual maturity that amazes me.
7:40 – 7:45: I always have a time of reflection. At the end of my sermon, I usually ask for a show of hands for things such as “who needs prayer for the power of Christ to accomplish what God has taught you in His Word tonight” or “if you are someone here tonight that wants to learn more about Jesus and how to have Him as your God…”. Then, I give the students an opportunity to respond to God in prayer by just giving them a few minutes of silence. I don’t like to dismiss them or start up the next song until they’ve had a chance to talk to God about what they’ve learned.
7:45 – 7:50: Our praise band comes back up on stage and plays the concluding song. Our concluding song is ALWAYS a repeat of one of the songs we already did before the sermon. And it is always the song that has the lyrics that reflect the message most. Tonight that was the song “God of this City.” Singing it the second time after the service seems to make it so much more meaningful, powerful, and worshipful.
7:50 – I thank them all for coming, I remind them of the most important announcements (no more than one or two), and then I let them go. Because our college service starts at 8pm, I tell them they can hang out in our student building until then.
Again, I just pray that this could be a help to someone. I certainly don’t have it all figured out, nor am I the youth pastor pro, guru, or jedi master. But what we do works, it incorporates what the church is supposed to be doing together, it is meaningful to our students, it has a central theme running throughout the entire service, it is powerful, it is effective, and most of all…it is constantly centered on Christ!