This past weekend, I got to see Gungor on their Ghosts Upon the Earth tour at Santa Ana (a couple of blocks away from where we used to live in OC).
It was an amazing experience. They were great. They had a slam/spoken poet with them who just blew everyone out of the water.
I couldn’t get over how many young people showed up, especially since a couple of weeks ago, a colleague asked, “Where did all the young people go?”
The venue was packed. Majority of the people in attendance were young adults. But the crowd was still diverse. Even if we didn’t know one another, there was a sense of oneness in the air. Sure, we came to hear Gungor, but we also came to see what God is doing through them and those who listen to their God-given gifts. We had church. We were church.
Sure, majority (if not all) of the young adults there were church going folks. But still. There were hundreds of young adults packed into this small and intimate venue.
The truth is, whether young or old, in these times, people will make time for something they value, something they find important.
The bigger truth is, a lot of our churches in the Cal-Pac Annual Conference haven’t given something exciting for the young people to invite friends to, haven’t given something worth of value.
Worship shouldn’t be preference driven, nor product/consumer driven. I think that’s a trouble many of us pastors get into – making consumers out of church goers.
But, there’s no shame, I believe, in wanting and striving for excellence and relevance in our worship.
And if we want to strive for excellence and relevance, we have to give ourselves room to experiment, and more importantly, room to fail.
Gungor’s music brought many people to that venue. We invited 3 other folks to come join us, because we felt that strongly about Gungor as musicians.
Music is an awesome and wonderful tool for worship.
I’ve felt the presence of God stirring within my heart through a powerful worship song more than through powerful sermons.
Music speaks to many, especially in young people, in more ways we can describe.
We have this powerful medium, this powerful ministry tool, and yet we tend to put it in the back burner because that is not how church is supposed to be; that the drums have no room in our sanctuary.
Mike Slaughter once tweeted:
2 many of R churches r full of grandparents who’re willing 2 die 4 their grandchildren but not give up a music style 4 them.
— Mike Slaughter (@RevMSlaughter) February 18, 2012
And if they do have an alternative worship from their “main” worship, it’s not given the room or attention (or respect) as the “main” worship. Some churches will have their contemporary worship as their first service in the morning simply because they don’t want any elements of drums and cables when their “real” worship starts at 10. Or, their alternative worship doesn’t happen in the main sanctuary, but somewhere else. Sometimes, the senior pastor doesn’t want anything to do with that worship. They have it because they feel they need to. But they don’t put time and effort into making that worship excellence. It’s there because someone said it should. It’s a half-hearted outreach at best. It’s often treated as the red-headed step child, if I may.
I know I’m a walking contradiction talking about not making worship a consuming/preference-driven experience and then in the next sentence talking about a style of worship. But there are many young people out there that like the robes, choirs and organ music.
But there are more who may refer to that as “funeral music” as my youth from a former church would call it. They absolutely hated being at worship on Sunday morning, and much preferred being outside and just loitering around the parking lot or Sunday school classrooms.
If some of us are driving away the young folks who are part of our church away from Sunday morning… how are we going to expect in bringing young people within the community?
I know you can find many holes in this post (I’ve found many already… like, we should go to the young people instead of just expecting them to come to our church, etc).. but I have to ask, for those of us who are complaining “Where are the young people?”, have we really made an effort to reach out to the young people? Even if it means that we actually have to (and willing to) change things instead of just talking about them?