This past Sunday, as I walked into the sanctuary, the crowd bubbled with anticipation. Smiles abounded. Voices projected. Seats filled up. Visitors poured in. Comments revealed the eagerness for the service to begin.
And it carried over into worship. As the first song started to play, people hurried to their seats. Side-conversations stopped. The singing seemed stronger and louder. The sanctuary felt alive.
What did all this?
Two words: Youth Sunday.
I know, from the youth pastor side of this, that youth Sunday can be a hassle. You’re trying to wrangle students to commit to play songs, sing, give announcements, perform a skit, collect offering and maybe even preach and lead music. You fret and worry about who will actually show up and who will bail out at the last second. It’s stressful and probably takes a few weeks off your life.
But, as a pastor, let me tell you: It’s worth it.
Not only was our congregation enthused about the student’s leading worship, it manifested in other ways. The teenagers came to church on Sunday morning. That’s something we’ve struggled with at our church. Not only the teenagers, but their parents too. Literally, our church was packed with visitors.
But that’s not the only benefit. People in our congregation saw our youth minister in action. They heard him preached. They watched as he bragged on his students. They joined with him in celebration of the youth group we have and the efforts he puts forth. It benefited him because people saw his ministry first hand and it excited them.
That builds momentum and good will and you can’t buy those things.
And you know what? I did not hear one negative comment. Nothing about the music being too loud or too fast or too modern. I did not hear anyone complain about the message or the skit or the service going long or the visitors or the teenagers being there.
Instead I heard: “When are we going to do this again?” “This was the best service we’ve had in a long time.” “I loved seeing those students up there.” “Man, I’m glad I came to church today.” Or my personal favorite (said by someone who missed) “I heard I missed a great service today. I hate that.”
So I write this blog as an encouragement to youth pastors but also as a way of pushing you in the direction of doing youth Sundays regularly. It energizes your church and your ministry. The benefits far outweigh the headaches.
Trust me, as much as I dreaded them as a youth pastor, I love them as a senior pastor. It does so much good for our church and for our youth ministry as well.