This week, I’m preparing to preach our Easter sunrise worship service. It’s the fifth consecutive year I’ve had that privilege. That spans two churches, two pastors and an interim period.
I enjoy preaching that service. I get to speak on the first service of our most holy day in front of our congregation. (At least for those who get up early enough for a sunrise service.) It’s always the most positive message I give all year. You can’t help but be giddy about proclaiming the news that Jesus Christ is alive. It’s frequently my favorite sermon.
Here’s the thing: I believe this is the perfect spot for youth ministers to preach. Let me tell you why.
First off, I have to give a disclaimer. This post is probably geared to pastors. It involves youth ministry, but only a pastor can truly implement what I suggest here. A youth pastor can plant the idea, but the pastor (and possibly church leadership) has to be on board for it to become a reality.
Let’s face it. Easter is probably the biggest Sunday on our calendar. More visitors (and once-a-year parishioners) will attend on Easter than any other day of the year. I know some pastors who sweat just thinking about their Easter sermon because it will be the biggest crowd they see all year.
That’s not necessarily true for the sunrise service though. That’s usually a smaller crowd – often core church members and leaders – who have the desire to get up early and celebrate the arrival at the tomb that first Easter morning. It’s not only a smaller crowd, but it’s usually a smaller message.
That makes it the perfect place for a youth minister to speak. For one thing, it takes the pressure off the pastor to come up with two Easter sermons – one for sunrise and one for big church. If your church has multiple worship services, it takes some responsibility off the pastor as well as saves his voice and energy for the bigger crowd.
It also elevates the youth pastor in the eyes of the congregation. Sure, they’re used to hearing you speak at youth services and when the pastor is on vacation, but speaking at an Easter service communicates to the congregation that you are viable and trusted member of the staff. When the pastor entrusts the youth pastor with an Easter message, it creates a bridge of trust with the congregation too. That equity can go a long way in your ministry, especially when you have to teach tough topics with teens.
I know this isn’t always applicable. My first pastor felt led to preach at the sunrise service. However, the sunrise service provides a unique opportunity to give a youth pastor experience, credibility and an opportunity to serve the pastor that perhaps no other service all year does.
I’ve had an awesome privilege to preach sunrise services. It’s my hope and prayer that other youth pastors can too.