Hey Simply Insiders!
We have another great guest post from Chris Roberts of Christ in Youth (CIY)! In his last one, he gave 5 Steps to Helping Students Find Their Identity.
Today, Chris talks about how excellent worship can be the key to bringing your Jr. High students to the feet of Jesus with Taylor Brown, the CIY program administrator. Read on!
By Chris Roberts, with Taylor Brown – CIY program administrator
Think about the life of a Jr. High student. What percentage of their life is devoted to learning? Jr. High students are at an age where, rightfully so, they need to be taught; and worship gives them an opportunity where they finally get to express – where they get to take a breath and with all of their natural 13-year-old energy, express to God their adoration of Him.
Taylor Brown, one of CIY’s program administrators and a worship leader for Believe’s 2012 tour, says Jr. High-appropriate worship is about more than just loud music – it’s about connecting with students at their level and then elevating that to a level that turns their eyes toward God.
“Oftentimes I think the older we get, the more jaded we get towards emotional expression,” Taylor says. “If we adults are so busy fighting about how to do worship, it’s probably because somewhere along the line we have become disconnected with our emotions. We’ve seen emotions hurt community or lead us astray, and so we’ve eliminated them altogether. Students from ages 12-to-18 haven’t lost that yet – they haven’t become burnt by emotion yet.”
Taylor says he always tries to approach worship to Jr. High students with a few key ideas in mind:
• Everything has a purpose. With Jr. Highers, one of the things to strive toward is creating an atmosphere similar to a party where everyone is celebrating God. The worship leader should be dancing with them, singing with them and matching their energy or even bringing it up a notch. Jr. High students already have natural energy that they bring to worship, and in order to bring them to a place where they can celebrate Jesus the worship leader needs to at least match that energy.
• Never sing down to Jr. High students. “I don’t need to be looking down at them and smiling at them,” Taylor says. “I can be looking up and singing to God, and that will pull them along with me.” A lot of times we feel like we need to have big smiles and nod to the students encouragingly as if saying, “You get it? You see what we’re doing?” But if the worship leader is singing real songs that are directed to the Father, students will follow.
• Jr. High students are more intelligent than we give them credit for. They’re able to understand concepts that are deeper than we might expect of them, and because of that we can still use songs that will teach and educate in our worship sets. There are contemporary worship songs such as “Forever Reign” (Hillsong) that has solid truth that will teach Jr. High students about God.
• Don’t let worship be a substitute for culture. It’s tempting to view worship as a substitute for the bad things that Jr. High students connect with in popular culture. But just because they may listen to “bad” music doesn’t mean that worship should become a substitute for “good” in their life. It should be a time to worship the creator. If you try to introduce worship music to your students in an attempt to push out culture, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.