This youth-led worship service is perfect for a lazy, hazy summer day or night. Your kids learn what it takes to hear God’s voice by experiencing Elijah’s story. This worship service doesn’t require a special location; the youth room will be fine. It’s a very personal service; in fact, most of it takes place right in your kids’ mouths!
You’ll need these supplies:
Pop Rocks candy—One package for each group member.
Atomic Fireballs candy—One for each group member.
Ice-cold Sierra Mist soft drinks—One can or bottle for each group member. Have some of the diet version on hand. (Make sure the soft drinks are ice cold.)
Hair dryers with “cool” settings or the trigger-activated fans that you can buy in amusement parks—you don’t need to have one for each group member, but it’s much cooler if you do.
Bibles—You’ll need enough for each Scripture-reader to have one, all in the same translation or paraphrase (preferably The Message by Eugene Peterson).
The song “Elijah” from Lost and Found’s Something Different album. There are two versions of this song on one CD—I personally like the acoustic one. If you decide to use this song, save it for your “closer.”
The song “Distant Land” from Lost and Found’s Something album.
The song “Biscuits” from Agape’s Many Rooms album. (This is a nice hip-hop opener if your group leans in that direction.)
“Put in Me” or “You Are So Good to Me” from the Enter the Worship Circle: First Circle album.
Scripture Passages: Psalm 55; Psalm 116; 1 Kings 18:1–19:5; 1 Kings 19:5-13
If your church has a basement, hold this service there. Otherwise gather your group and have them sit on the floor in a circle, then dim the lights. Try to have kids sit so their knees are touching. Keep all the candy, soft drinks, and other items hidden from view.
Say something like: Let’s open in prayer. God, sometimes we feel like we’re all alone. We do what you want us to do and we try our best to live how you want us to live, and it all goes into a hopper. It’s not easy to be your servants, God, but then you never said it would be. We’re here now. Together. Listening. Speak to us, God. Your servants are listening. Amen.
Play “Biscuits” or another song from the suggestions list, or use one of your choosing (make sure it’s a song about trying to do God’s will).
Ask two student volunteers to read the following Scripture passages using The Message paraphrase, or another version you prefer, one after the other: Psalm 55 and Psalm 116.
Say something like: Tonight we’re going to talk about listening for God—actually, not just listening, but doing what we’re told. So we’re going to look at Elijah’s story.
Pass out the Pop Rocks and Atomic Fireballs, but don’t pull out the ice-cold Sierra Mist until the second you’re ready to use it.
Say something like: I’m going to read you a portion of Elijah’s story, when he was hiding in a cave. At certain points in the story, I’ll tell you what to do with the Pop Rocks and Atomic Fireballs I’ve given you. Keep in mind that Elijah was just in a WWF-type battle with the priests who worshiped a false god named Baal. This battle-of-the-gods was designed to show the queen whose God was real.
Have a student volunteer (or several of them) read aloud 1 Kings 18:1–19:5 using The Message paraphrase.
Say something like: At this point Elijah has done everything God has asked of him, and now there’s an army out to kill him. During the next part of the story, I’m going to ask you to do several things, so pay attention.
Read aloud this version of 1 Kings 19:5-13 from The Message: Exhausted, he fell asleep under the lone broom bush. Suddenly an angel shook him awake and said, “Get up and eat!” He looked around and, to his surprise, right by his head were a loaf of bread baked on some coals and a jug of water. He ate the meal and went back to sleep. The angel of God came back, shook him awake again, and said, “Get up and eat some more—you’ve got a long journey ahead of you.” He got up, ate and drank his fill, and set out. Nourished by that meal, he walked 40 days and nights, all the way to the mountain of God, to Horeb. When he got there, he crawled into a cave and went to sleep. Then the word of God came to him: “So Elijah, what are you doing here?” “I’ve been working my heart out for the God-of-the-Angel-Armies,” said Elijah. “The people of Israel have abandoned your covenant, destroyed the places of worship, and murdered your prophets. I’m the only one left, and now they’re trying to kill me.” Then he was told, “Go, stand on the mountain at attention before God. God will pass by.” A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind… At this point have your adult leaders get out the hair dryers or trigger fans and begin blowing wind in your kids’ faces.
Read aloud: …after the wind an earthquake…
Now tell your kids to each empty an entire packet of Pop Rocks into their mouth. Have your volunteers continue blowing air on them.
Read aloud: …but God wasn’t in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire…
Tell your teenagers to each put an Atomic Fireball in their mouth—tell them to add it to the Pop Rocks. Have a wastebasket on hand if kids need to spit out the Fireball. Let the noise and laughter go on for a little while, then turn off the hair dryers and calm your kids.
Read aloud: …but God wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper…
Bring out the bottles or cans of Sierra Mist. Have kids drink and spit out the Fireball if they wish. Repeat the following reading several times.
Read aloud: …but God wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper. When Elijah heard the quiet voice, he muffled his face with his great cloak, went to the mouth of the cave, and stood there. A quiet voice asked, “So Elijah, now tell me, what are you doing here?”
Pause, then say something like: Elijah was hiding out. Sometimes we feel like hiding out, too. Doing what God wants us to do is just too hard sometimes. But God sent Elijah an angel who gave him food to sustain him. God spoke to Elijah. Not in fire. Not in wind. Not with an earthquake. He spoke in a still, small voice—so soft it was like a cool breeze. God will sustain us, too. God will give us what we need to do what he wants us to do—if we will listen for the whisper.
Play “Elijah” or another song from the suggestions list, or use one of your choosing.
Then say something like: Let’s close this worship time in prayer. God, sometimes we just want to stand on the edge of a cliff and scream “Louder!” We want to hear you. We want a giant flashing neon arrow to drop out of the sky and point us in the direction you want us to go. The problem is that, usually, we already know and we just don’t want to admit it. Or we hope you’ll change your mind. Sustain us, God. Give us what we need to be your servants. We need more of you. Let us feel your hand on our shoulder. Make us able to hear your still, small voice. Your servants are listening, God. Amen.
Steve Case is a veteran youth minister and authore of The Youth Worker’s Big Book of Case Studies (Youth Specialties/Zondervan).