O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. -Psalm 71:17
What memories do you have as a teenager in the church? These days, the teen years have become even more critical in determining whether our youth will continue to explore their faith as young adults.
According to the National Study of Youth and Religion, researchers found that while the majority of American teenagers identify with a religious congregation, many adolescents lack the ability to speak articulately about their faith; believe that religion itself is not terribly important to daily life; and subscribe to a watered-down belief system.
Despite these findings, there are several key factors that can positively contribute to a teen’s faith continuing into adulthood. One factor is whether a teenager had a significant spiritual experience. For many youth, this kind of spiritual experience would be a particularly meaningful worship service.
I can testify to the impact that a worship experience can have on your faith and life as a teenager. My first-ever preaching experience came during a Youth Sunday at my home congregation of First Presbyterian Church in Delray Beach, FL. I was honestly a little concerned that the pastors had turned the preaching duties over to a 16-year-old, but as my pastor said, “What’s the worst that can happen? God will still be in attendance!” Participating in Youth Sunday was a significant spiritual experience for me, eventually playing a part in my call to ministry.
Over the past several weeks, our BMPC high school youth leadership team has been writing the liturgy, selecting the hymns, and practicing the preaching for this week’s Youth Sunday. While worship is not about performance, the experience of thoughtfully preparing for worship has allowed these teens to more deeply explore the Christian faith. For each of these youth, Youth Sunday will be an opportunity for a significant spiritual experience. We never fully know how God will move us in worship, but as a congregation we will be blessed to experience our youth proclaim God’s wondrous deeds on Youth Sunday.