It is always so rewarding for us as teachers when we get to bring our student band into different churches to lead worship around the Las Vegas valley. We’ll overhear people say, “Man, listen to them! They’re just kids, and they sound and look like a professional concert band!”
We recently had lunch after a worship event one Sunday with some of our students and their parents. I walked around the table to where the parents were sitting, and shared with them how proud we are of all of our students, telling them that we can only “lead the horse to water, but we can’t make it drink,” meaning that the students are the ones that have to do the actual work. I proceeded to tell them that after spending years in the professional music business, we can teach our students just about everything they will need to know to land a professional music gig, get college music scholarships, etc. We can teach them stage presence, musical execution, vocal techniques, etc… But the one thing that is outside of our control is their personal relationship with Christ, and their own time spent alone worshiping Him. What is in our control is to find ways to keep encouraging them to do this and continuing to pray for their relationship with God.
If you are leading a youth worship team, we encourage you to facilitate weekly bible studies, devotions, and gatherings to inspire your team in worship. The most essential thing they need to learn is that they need to have their own quiet time with the Lord before they can truly lead others in worship.
Students can only worship to the extent of their revelation of who God is to THEM.
As adults, we have much more to draw from, emotionally and spiritually. We’ve lived longer, we’ve been through more in life. We can sing from the depths of our soul and from our own personal God experiences. But youth are still figuring what is their relationship with God, and it might not always be their own faith that they are drawing from, it could still be their parent’s faith. It’s not until they start seeking God in their private alone time and experiencing Him through the trials and hardships in this fallen world – when they have no one left to go to but this God that they have been singing songs about – that their worship on stage will come alive in Him. They won’t have to manufacture stage presence, or focus on perfectionism, or hitting every note just right. They will be able to lead others in true worship.
Finding songs that they can personally relate to is crucial. We like to encourage our students to suggest songs to incorporate into their worship sets, with songs that make them connect with God. Challenge them to find scriptures that capture the message of the song, and find ways to segue that scripture into the song. When they choose songs that thematically deal with things they are going through, or highlights their personal understanding of God, they will be able to lead those songs with authenticity – singing to and about their God with conviction and passion.
When a student suggests a song, we like to sit down with them and look at the lyrics together. Understanding the difference between a congregational worship song, a praise song, and a great Christian pop song on the radio is a great area of teaching for them. We ask them questions like, “Is it a pop song or a worship song? Who is the song addressed to: the congregation, God, or is it telling a story of victory?” We really dive in to the meaning behind the lyrics. There have been times when a student will be practicing for an upcoming worship event, and when we ask them what the message of the songs are about, they either have to think long and hard about it, or they have no idea at all. We want to move them out of just practicing musical “parts”, and toward actually understanding the heart and the meaning behind the songs they are learning. It can make their practice time turn into worship time, and that will always translate on Sunday!
May you be blessed as you pour into the next generation of worshipers!