Posted by loswhit in Worship Leading

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The kid in the red shirt above is Forrest.
I don’t know much of his story but I do know this.
He is 15 years old and led the lifechurch.tv north campus in worship this morning.
He is awkward. He is lanky. He is not a “pro”.
He is also genuine and not trying to be something he is not.

This is something that most know I’m passionate about.
If you read my tweets this morning it was only solidified.
I’m a firm believer in students taking part in leading students in worship.
But I know many disagree with me.
At my current home church, this is not the case.
Old people lead students in worship.
And by old I mean like, me.

I just think that if the 16 year olds are leading other 16 year olds, when they are 26, they will be the cat’s pajamas will special sauce.
Or maybe I’m just a hopeless romantic?
It’s obviously a deeper conversation than my 300 words are giving it.
But just to open it up.
What do you guys think?

Who should be leading students in worship and why? Adults or students?
Los

  • http://twitter.com/durantandrew Andrew DuRant

    We had a student lead our worship this morning as well! He got up opened up with a song…talked a bit…rocked another song….shared why we worship…rocked a few more and then prayed to close us out! He didn't hit every note dead on he didn't nail every riff, but he lead us in authentic worship and he wasn't ashamed of singing these songs to God. He wasn't up there for his motives but rather to share his passion for music and Christ by leading us in song! Student's ARE capable of and SHOULD be used in all aspects of all services.

  • http://www.nikao.ws Vince

    not sure age matters. (spiritual maturity + gifting + skills + relevance to the community in question = great worship leader)

    • http://www.beautifulcanvas.org Dave ©

      Hard to argue with that.

    • Merle @gunkis84

      nailed it!

    • Bryan Wiewel

      That is so true. My son is 13 and is better than a lot of the people I have heard on different worship teams but most people see his age and don't give him a fair shot. When he gets his shot they will see what they have been missing.

    • Los

      In that respect. Of course not.
      But in the conversation on growing the future. I think it matters tremendously

  • http://www.metacognician.com Kendra Golden

    I’m SO glad you got to see Forrest and Chuck Dennie’s whole team! As an adult, I LOVED having him lead me in worship the couple times I’ve visited N-Dub in the past month. The first factor though is the part where you said “he’s genuine and he’s not trying to be something he’s not.” The leader has to be a fully abandoned worshipper or I don’t care about their musical ability or song set.

    That being said, I worship each weekend with our elementary kids. We always pick some kids to come up and lead for the reasons you’ve mentioned. Relating to the leader is an important part of choosing to follow their lead.

    The problem though is that Forrests are a tremendously rare and wonderful treasure. Finding someone that age with the will, the ability, and the abandon to God is going the be a search. But like Jesus’ parable about the hidden treasure, we should sell everything we have and go buy that field.

    • http://www.studentministry101.com David Mehrle

      I am not sure that they are rare as much as we are not pouring into them. Our systems are not set up to train and lead students into this role.

      I lead a student ministry where we have five different leaders and have graduated several others. I would put them up against a lot of people who have been doing it for a while.

  • http://www.jakeschwein.com @JakeSchwein

    I think it is great for students to lead. I think it is the Church Next…so if we can get out of the way (my old self included) they might take the church to where God intends…I sure dont want to hold it back!!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/klreed189 klreed189

      Great point. I wonder what is the balance between the next church and the current church? And how do we work on not holding it back?

  • Bert Newman

    Yes students should lead with proper supervision and rehearsal with an established worship leader. Have two kids in youth band.. they love it. One plays bass the other sings.
    Recently there was a youth pastor change and he took away the youth band.. totally dried up the youth worship, praise and the spirit of those in the band. Older people may play/sing better but it only is because they have more experience not necessarily talent. Youth want to be a part of the movement of praise, as you said, pour your heart and soul into them and they will grow.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/klreed189 klreed189

      what a great chance to mentor some students as well.

    • Nicky

      I have to disagree with you just slightly. I don’t think that an established worship leader is required. I’m a high school senior and lead our student band at my church. I have also see two other before succeed with very minimal supervision and input from an “established worship leader.” I conduct all the rehearsals myself and schedule everything. Our Youth Music Director is on hand of course, and gives his input when I ask him, but for the most part he just hangs around incase something goes wrong with the equipment. I see where you’re coming from, but I’ve also experienced an “established worship leader” completely taking control and it is a mess. I feel that God will call the right people into the right positions and for us to truly worship we can’t have an adult hovering over us.

  • http://www.caseydarnell.com Casey Darnell

    students…teenagers leading worship? pshh…where did you get that crazy idea?!?!

    It’s not like when King David was young he was….wait….

  • Maryanne

    This is the same type of thing I was feeling about while watching Christine Caine yesterday. I’m a 25 year old woman and have grown tired of seeing a white man preach, preach, and preach. And Elder Boards, male, male, male, male…etc. It got me to thinking what it would do for teenage girls (who arguably have it much harder than teenage boys in every day life) to have a strong woman tear it up in means of worship. I can’t imagine what it would’ve done for me, maybe inspired a different route here or there.

    And it’s the same with what you’re bringing up. For those kids struggling in the congregation with self-esteem issues, (read: ALL kids) I can’t imagine what it might do to see another kid take the reigns and lead the congregation. Maybe it would inspire another kid to step up and do something they’ve been too scared to do, who knows… There’s no reason why talent should be wasted because of age.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/klreed189 klreed189

    This my friend is NOT a stupid post.
    What a great thought and question to ask to consider. I had a conversation with a senior in high school about this today. He was talking about the opportunity he gets to lead his friends and peers in worship each Sunday. It was cool to hear him talk about the excitement he has and the passion that fills his heart when he talks about leading worship.
    I am very appreciative of the opportunity that I get to play in the adults service. I am a 23 yr old kid who has a different style than most of the drummers that play each Sunday (I play a little loud) and I can be a little nervous and intimidated about playing with people who are twice my age.
    I was a little confused by this line: "I just think that if the 16 year olds are leading other 16 year olds, when they are 26." But I think you were talking about the heart of the matter and that is worship Christ.
    Often times styles get in the way. I know this is a big one for me. I can be a worship music snob and say something like "well thats not how crowder does it" or "Uhhh, you want me to play what?" But I really have to check my motives at the door and realize why I am there and how I am using my gifts to serve God.
    Putting our styles aside and looking forward towards Jesus in worship is what we should all be about, regardless of age.

    PS: I feel like this comment was just for me "It’s obviously a deeper conversation than my 300 words are giving it."

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Amanda_Sims Amanda_Sims

    I truly believe that students should be able to lead. And not just on "student Sundays" either. How else are they going to learn?

    When I was in youth group, (about 20 yrs ago – gosh I'm old) I was the first "woman" to lead worship from our stage. It was "ok" because it was student Sunday and I was the worship leader for the youth. I'm SO thankful for having been given that opportunity because I learned so much from it, and it sort of paved the way for other students to become part of the Sunday morning worship team on a more regular basis.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/why_arizona why_arizona

    when i first started playing music, it was for my church's youth group. i was 12 and the rest of my friends were just learning how to play instruments. they needed a bassist and i wanted to have some fun. we practiced a lot until our youth pastor found out we were playing together. he asked us to start playing. we were awful for about the first year of playing. seriously, we were horrid. however we had one thing: passion. tons of it. my senior year of high school the worship leader left to do YWAM's DTS program. I had the opportunity to lead. it was great for me.

    i've been playing for 10 years now, and 5 years ago i started playing for the main services. all of us are now a part of the "big church" worship team. we still love the opportunity to worship God with our talents.

    i honestly believe i wouldn't have grown as much as a musician or as a person had i not been given the chance to play while in middle school and high school. i've learned a lot about band dynamics, but even more about letting God lead me while i'm playing.

    our church has gone away from that in the past few years though. after our youth worship leader got back from YWAM, he took over as our church's worship leader. he has however retained his position as the youth worship leader too. it bums me out to see something that was great for us to simply fall to the wayside based out of comfort or complacency.

  • http://www.jasoncurlee.com Jason Curlee

    oh yes…that is why my daughter 16 leads worship for our student ministry at my campus.

  • http://gbrenna.com Graham

    we have a youth led worship service every Sunday night. It’s a good thing… I like seeing students leading students in worship. At the same time… I think it’s important that those students that are leading worship have a “pro” that is there to help lead them. If they have nobody to look at for guidance… it won’t be sustainable.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/gbrenna Graham Brenna

    we have a youth led worship service every Sunday night. It's a good thing… I like seeing students leading students in worship. At the same time… I think it's important that those students that are leading worship have a "pro" that is there to help lead them. If they have nobody to look at for guidance… it won't be sustainable.

  • http://micahfoster.wordpress.com Micah Foster

    This is a highly debated issue…I’ve heard it all.

    But in my experience a mix is good. I love the quality of a pro, but students being involved goes a long way. There’s just something pretty amazing about seeing a student surrender in worship in front of his or her peers, especially for the guest. Those students that are friends of people that came for the first time…it becomes more real to them when students are involved in the atmosphere. Get some quality musicians and some students, mix it up and keep it fresh.

  • @angelacbaker

    I think it is awesome when students lead worship! Sometimes we adults lose sight of exactly how incredible our God is and how worthy He is to be praised. Most of the time, students aren’t as jaded as adults can be and therefore can worship with a pure heart. Their total love of Jesus is contagious and I want to ‘catch it’!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/violetatrece Violet

    I just turned 20, so I'm in college and we have a group that gets together and worships and I'd say it's best to leave students to run their own thing and have "old people" at the edge for guidance and help, because we want and need that too. I think switching off works well too, give the students a break from leading sometimes, they are still kids.

  • http://bigisthenewsmall.com Scott Williams

    Los,

    Thanks for the post and thanks for visiting our campus today. Forrest is at my campus and he is an amazing student. Here is the deal, our worship pastor @chuckdennie recognized Forrest to be one of the most expressive worshipers each and every weekend, he recognized that Forrest had a passion for worship, he threw him on stage, our people responded and the rest is history. He is truly a special young man with a special anointing on his life; however he couldn’t realize his God potential if someone like Chuck hadn’t given him a shot.

    I am all about giving young leaders a shot, a break, a chance… because I was once a young leader who someone to a risk on and I bet many of you who are reading this were as well. Take a risk, don’t worry about perfectionism and watch what God does.

    If you want to check out the LifeChurch.tv Invasion Message that we did about Forrest and hear thoughts from his parents, click this link: http://is.gd/2Igye

    No Risk… No Reward! Take a risk and help those around you to realize their God Potential! Hmm sounds like something Jesus would do!

    • Osann Heisner

      Thanks for sharing the link to the Life Church Invasion Stories…POWERFUL stuff on how God is working and changing lives. I clicked first because we are in the process of forming and developing a Youth Band and Worship Team so I was curious about Forrest…and I was blessed by his story and so much more. Thanks again for sharing.
      Osann Heisner

  • http://krezia.tumblr.com Krezia

    Good thoughts!
    Hands down STUDENTS!
    First, I find that youth respond more authentically when one of their peers lead the worship.
    Second, the adult worship leaders should be, if not doing it already, mentoring these young leaders…

  • http://www.mizzjones.wordpress.com toni

    i’m a firm believer in never underestimating how God can use, speak to, work through and minister through the life of a child, children, young adults, teenagers, etc. i think that whomever God will have lead the specified student group is the one(s) that He should be leading through.

    i say, either or – adult or student. i have seen a younger person, spirit filled and anointed to do the job and it was great.

  • http://www.Twitter.com/marcmillan Marc Millan

    Students, with mentorship from their student
    pastor and also mentorship and a solid relationship
    with an older Worship leader. Teach them
    the importance and significance of worship
    and allow them to reach THEIR generation.

  • Taylor Charboneau

    I know people always say it really doesn’t matter, but in all reality, I think it does matter. I think Adults should be leading students in worship. Yea, I understand that when students lead worship it is genuine worship, but I don’t think students are looking for worship that is genuine, but no good to listen to. I just graduated from a senior high group, and went to two separate churches- one for my first two years, and the other for the second two years. The first church I went to was a regular probably 1400 weekly attenders, with a student leading youth worship… It was genuine worship for him on the platform. For me, it was painful to listen to, and it was hard for me to get into the worship. Then for the second two years, I went to the mega church up the road… “Eagle Brook Church” They had a local christian artist leading worship, and it was amazing!

    I definatly think students leading worship is nice, but most of the time not very good… But when you get adults leading worship then it has the possibility to be amazing! Another thing… Why would a student want to go to a church where the large group is painful to listen to, while the church up the street has amazing a full professional band.

    So there are my comments! :-)

  • http://artgood.org Art

    YES! YES! YES! Student worship should be student led.

    Am I making sense? For goodness sake give the next generation time to hone their skills and be immersed in leading their peers into the presence of God.

    (Of course this is coming from a youth pastor – a 35 year old youth pastor)

  • http://twitter.com/artgood @artgood

    YES! YES! YES! Student worship should be student led.

    Am I making sense? For goodness sake give the next generation time to hone their skills and be immersed in leading their peers into the presence of God.

    (Of course this is coming from a youth pastor – a 35 year old youth pastor)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/CaroleTurner CaroleTurner

    I think whoever is fine. I posted today about the worship leader at our campus, he's 21 yrs old, we are all MUCH older then him, I was actually his room mate when he was 6 months old cuz' I lived with his parents just after he was born and him and I shared a room.He's like a nephew to me. He's humble, free, kind and wants more then anything to lead people into worship. We (the team leading with him) catch his freedom, his joy, like a spreading rash, so does the congregation. So, I think age doesn't matter, it's the heart. As a side though I will say, jealousy is what causes many I know to NOT like the younger generation to lead. I have heard back up worship leaders say "well so and so has been here longer, they should be leading, not her, she's too young.." stuff like that.

  • gaddis

    I agree with Taylor. I think you can have students involved in playing and singing, etc…but if it isn't really good…is it really effective? Ok, ok…don't over spiritualize that last sentence. But at the same time, I think God has called us to do things with excellence. We don't live in a world anymore where the general public doesn't have an ear for music and is ignorant to good music vs. bad. Everyone is a music critic these days with kids walking around everywhere they go with ipod blaring in their ears.

    I think if the majority of the students are distracted by the 'badness' of it, then maybe they shouldn't be leading.

    Again, let me re-emphasize: I am all about student led student worship if the kid can play/sing. If not…can it.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/jbwagner Josh Wagner

    Absolutely, students should lead worship, especially for their peers. With the caveat that they are still up to par when in comes to skill.

    Here's the thing: If I had to choose between them, I'd rather the worship music be good than be students.

    I know there are some awesome students who can lead worship. Do not take away the opportunity for them to lead (and learn and gain experience they can use when they are adults!). Also, the students should have some kind of mentor or adult (read: older and wiser) there to help. That adult doesn't have to play in the band, but they should be helping the students to grow musically and spiritually.

    If the adults are way better than the students (music wise and maturity wise), then at some point the lack of quality will bring down the worship. Again, don't read me wrong, a heart in the right place and authenticity go a long way. But not the whole way.

    Ok, long comment. Hope that made sense.

  • http://scorch07.wordpress.com Justin Davis

    As a student myself, I love the opportunity to help lead worship, and I love it when my fellow students are up there too. Actually, this past Friday at 12Stone we had our quarterly worship night, O2, and the focus was the next generation. The average age of the entire (and very large) worship band that night was probably about 17, many of them close friends. It was an incredible night, and the worship was of the most genuine I have seen. The age is irrelevant. All that matters is that they are up there for the glory of God rather than their own.

  • Rachel

    Being a teenager myself, I feel more comfortable when another teenager is leading worship during a teen service. It makes it seem more authentic, like if this teenager can worship God with a bunch of other awkward teenagers, than so can I.

  • http://beaconhillnw.com Jim

    students leading students, if mentored and coached and discipled can have a huge impact…my 14 yr old son, stewart plays bass guitar in 2 different bands and sings…i’d like to have him as our worship guy now…

  • http://www.reflectionofgrace.wordpress.com brandi

    i work full time in youth ministry. i dont think its as simple as "student led" or "adult led".

    should students ALWAYS lead students? no.
    should adults ALWAYS lead students? no.

    i know we're talking about worship specifically, but same goes for preaching/teaching. should students be leading students in teaching? or should there be an adult teaching?

    i think in both cases..worship, teaching, whatever leadership happens in student ministries… it should be both. adults need to lead… we are called Biblically to lead & set an example for the next generation..part of doing that is teaching students to do what we do, and part of doing that is giving them opportunities to DO what they've been taught. definitely gotta be a mix of both!

  • http://billgrandi.com bill (cycleguy)

    I see no problem with students leading worship-students or adults-if they understand the purpose of worship and their purpose on stage is not to entertain, to draw attention to themselves or to detract from God's glory. That being said I tend to think that the problem we have is not just one of age but one of "excellence." We have been fed this whole pile full of garbage about excellence that we don't allow mistakes. Most student-led worship will lack polish or excellence (as we like to call it) and therefore we stifle the creative gift God has given them. So what if it isn't perfect. Don't imagine the "adult led" worship was either the first few times around. My .02 worth.

  • http://www.wakebird.com Eric Wakeling

    I totally agree that students should be able to be worship leaders. I think that they should receive support, prayer, encouragement and training from other more experienced leaders in the church. Sometimes high school students get thrown on stage because they have some talent but nobody walks them through the spiritual difficulties of being "up-front."

    We have Jr High and High School students play in their respective groups and also play in our main services. Some young people play orchestral instruments in more traditional services and then others play electric guitar or drums in other services. I think there are tons more opportunities than just the guy who plays a mean acoustic guitar with a solid voice.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/evambrose evambrose

    BOTH….youth and adults and sometimes a variation between the two. I've been amazed by the gifting and the creative leadership of people who are ten years my junior and will very much exceed anything I could ever hope to accomplish in worship though knowing full well where I stand when it comes to that kind of leadership. There's a fine line we walk between excellence and performance. Rory Noland, author of Heart of the Artist, describes excellence as "doing the best you can with what you have," and many of the students are already walking in that and it's left to spiritual maturation and experience…which they'll get if they're allowed the opportunity. Not only that, but I'll bet it would cause some "experienced" worship leaders to "mature" as well and reevaluate the way they lead worship.

  • http://themommylogues.blogspot.com Sarah

    We have students lead with us. They lead with a passion and recognition for the honor of leading that inspires me. They are not technically perfect (oh wait, no one is). But whenever they help lead I am thankful to be in a place that values students and their contributions. And frankly, I feel a little younger. And I’m open to that.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/naesco naesco

    I didn't read all the replies but I do believe it will help bring the students into worship seeing their "own" there, but, since I lead worship as well an I am quickly approaching 40 I would love to still be involved!

  • Joni Ruhs

    Students should at the very least be involved in leading if not the "point person". All else being equal(heart in the right place etc), I'd have a student lead before an adult. Kids engage more.

  • John Smith

    Students are exactly that…."students"…. Teachers are a must (as mentioned earlier,sustainability)
    Yep, Forrest guy's and gal's are not common place. Maturity and musicianship are a must.
    I too, find it hard to enter in with poor musicianship. Excellence comes with commitment to the Lord, His body, and personal time in mastering the craft to the best of ones ability.
    There must be a standard set by seasoned musicians within the local body.
    Personal models, above and beyond reproach, can inspire their peers to follow.
    Yep, I'm an ole' guy…pro for 30+ years

  • John Smith

    BTW…Rory Norlands books are excellent material for this subject.

  • http://www.3amjosh.com 3amjosh

    We have over 30 students that lead worship for our student ministries and have also led worship for our adult services on Sunday mornings. We believe that students have the capability to lead their peers at a level that has more connection that myself or another adult has.
    We let them bring out who they are in worship and don't ask them to become some worship rock star but help develop them into being great leaders in whatever ministry they end up doing. Our hope with this is that we have great leaders come out and go into their colleges and start a worship band because they are fully equipped.
    For those saying that it needs to be at a certain level of excellence I think that you can let that drop down for awhile and be encouraged by seeing how quickly they will learn. Pair someone who is awesome with someone who is not awesome, encourage when they do great, coach when it's not perfect but still encourage.
    This has some footage of our students(this is the middle school band that consists of a lot of middle schoolers) leading our adults in worship: http://bit.ly/NTQra and you can see that the overall quality of the band and the worship is pretty awesome.
    I'm no expert on this, but I'm a firm believer in equipping students to lead worship and not just talk to them about it but to challenge them with doing it. Would love to connect with more people who are plugged in with this and how you do what you do!

  • http://joshbollen.blogspot.com/ Josh B.

    This is a GREAT question! I am actually a full time high school worship leader (and not in high school . . .24 years old). One of the things we say in our student ministries is that we don’t want it to be a ministry TO students, but a ministry OF students. My main goal as the leader of our worship ministry is to get my butt off the stage so these students can lead each other. I promise you, there is a TON of talent in your student ministry if you ALLOW them/ASK them to step up and lead. One of the great things about student ministry is that they have a lot of time(usually) and they are willing to serve their butts off if you get them excited about seeing God work in their lives and through them.

  • http://www.journeyabilene.com Klint Bratcher

    Students!
    That's how I started leading worship. I started playing guitar when I was 13 and cut my teeth playing with a band, by playing with our Youth Worship Band. I had felt called to ministry at an early age so as I got into High School and started to leading worship for the whole youth group, I felt that started to solidify my calling, and now I'm living that out as a Worship Pastor!

    Klint

  • rachel

    I am not sure if it is that my church doesn't do this well, but I cringe when the youth band is playing. You don't even have to open the door to know that the youth band is up there. That said, there are several that cycle through the worship team that are awesome & the ones who did this & are now in college have seemlessly transfered into leading in those teams. It is just when the ones without talent are allowed to try that my heart during worship is distracted….one major flaw in my personality is that I am too quick to judge & mock…so who knows maybe the problem is me. Just a thought.

  • Anonymous

    Is a kid qualified to lead the church? Probably not.

    • http://www.studentministry101.com David Mehrle

      you may want to check out the Old Testament and see how many of them where qualified to lead. Yet, God worked through them and created several movements in the way that he needed them to happen. Are we asking a student to lead the church in this conversation, No. We are asking if students can lead and participate in leading others in worship and the answer is, Yes.

  • http://www.billyandkelli.com Billy

    If God has gifted a student to lead then it's our responsibility to help them develop their gift…at our church we let them lead.

  • http://www.russhutto.com Russ Hutto

    I think the operative word in the question is LEAD. If a student can then by all means they should. At the same time, I'm pretty much not in favor of no adult leadership or interaction. Students NEED to be loved, led, and equipped by adults, period. In fact, over the years I believe I'm growing more and more in favor of having generational worship as opposed to age-specific worship. But that might be just because I'm getting old up here in my 30s.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/RGsmith21 RGsmith21

    Who cares! Can a three year old lead a thirty-three year old, or a 103 year old lead a three year old? To me, these are not the questions.

    If the heart is full and if a person can connect with people in order to lead them collectively to praise God, lament our condition, and be in wonder of the great and mysterious God we serve then why are we concerned with their age?

    Let's be honest, the reason we don't do it is because we just don't value training them up. It's a whole lot easier and takes less risk to just let the accomplished and mature do the work.

    However, if you get a couple of adults to pour into one or two or many young people and they'll be able to lead anyone to the throne of Grace. It's just a matter of what we value as leaders, and has little to do with their age or the age of the congregation they are leading.

  • http://www.tysonknightmusic.com Tyson

    Agreed with your comments Carlos. I started leading worship when I was about 16 in the youth group and has no doubt given me the experience that I have needed to be the worship leader I am today some ten years later.

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/takiniteasy112 takiniteasy112

    its all about mentors, whoever is leading/replacing themselves,has been mentored and needs to mentor. im 26yrs old and i just got mentored by a 17yr semi-trained student vocalist on what it meant to lead worship last night and she never said a word to me.i believe its important to always have a heart thats open to God's direction, whether its in who should be leading your student ministry service or your adult service. it all boils down to effectively transmitting an authentic faith in Christ,as well as drawing out the authentic worshiper in all of us. if you cant do that then it really doesnt matter who is leading.

  • http://missroum87.wordpress.com/ Grace from Sarawak

    YES! Student should be given that opportunity to lead the congregation for worship. God is not bothered with age whether young or old, He looks into the heart of a man. A 16 year old might have the heart that God is after than a 46 year old..

  • http://christiangirl3712.posterous.com HeatherEV

    Students, students, students! Not only for students, but for adults at times, too. (Granted, I’m talking from the perspective of a youth leader who sees the power it gives students in the body of Christ to step up and play their part.) The students and adults both need to know the students can and should be doing something actively in the church. For some, that means leading worship. For others, something else. But all have a place, young or old.

    • Ann

      Yes!

  • http://www.northernboy.ca Jarret Popowich

    I haven’t seen too many churches willing to let the bar drop enough on Sunday morning to give a 16yr old a chance to lead. I think when possible students should always lead students. How else do they get real experience? A worship service geared for youth is a beautiful playground for a young worship leader to step into and begin to grow and refine their craft at a young age.

    A decade ago someone let me on stage; I was awkward and couldn’t sing. Listening back I REALLY sounded awful and it’s hilarious to think that they put up with me… but I get to do it full time today because they gave me a legit chance.

  • http://www.coastalcommunitychurch.org Wes

    There’s a delicate balance, but I agree with you it can be done. Should it always be done? No. There should be an ebb and flow of leading students, delegating to students, reflecting WITH students, and allowing them to make mistakes. Those mistakes should usually followed with reflection. Additionally, recording them so that they can listen / watch themselves provides great conversation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jamesmarler James Marler

    Why does it have to be either? Can it not be both? Students need to be fostered, educated, trained… Part of that is giving them chances to lead.
    But that doesn’t mean, necessarily , that only students should lead students.
    Conversely, if a young person has shown a level of maturity and sincerity, I see no reason that he or she should not be freed to lead adults.

  • Ann

    Our church has some 15/16 year olds leading worship. The “old” (30) Youth Pastor knows where they are spiritually. Our church lets mature in Christ young people lead and serve and I support and encourage it. I used to think they looked at me as a mother figure but am beginning to realize that it’s more like a grandmother figure! I still feel 19 inside (my physical body disputes that!) and applaud our church’s lead in this. If mistakes are made , our young leaders are supported and taught to learn what God wants them to know from that mistake. They are the next generation of world changers and need to learn to do that in a safe environment.

  • Evan

    I gained invaluable experience as a 16 year-old leading other 16 year-olds. Now I am a full time worship leader at a multi-gen church. If my youth pastor hadn’t given me that experience, I guarantee you I would not be in this job (which I love).

    But God was gracious and he allowed me the joy and *responsibility* of learning to lead at young age. My youth pastor worked with me (and all the other student musicians) through youthful ambition and arrogance and tons of screw-ups, but it helped mold me into a better worship leader.

    So yes to students leading students (with appropriate mentorship from adults and staff). It is a win. And it is not something only big churches can do, because neither our church nor youth ministry was not large when I started leading. We just had a youth pastor that understood the importance.

  • Scott

    Totally agree!! I am ONLY (I tell myself) 35 and I am a worship leader of a church of about 250. We have around 40 students on Wednesday night for youth group and I TRIED to lead them for a while. I thought, “I’m ONLY 35, have a sweet beard, two full tattoo sleeves, huge gauged ears, they will love me.” NOPE. To them I am still a 35 year old with two kid, fading tattoos of old stained glass windows, and gauges aren’t cool anymore….plus I shave my head because I’m going bald. Once a few of the youth females asked to sing on worship team and I directed them to singing in youth first, then worship started to take off for their group. Once the students had someone singing to Jesus who shared their struggles with school, bullies, parents, etc worship started to break out. I still have to be up there to help guide the new singers, but it’s a start and one I could not do alone. Like the “adult services” there does need to be a connection and not simply cool music. Totally agree which your stance not because it sounds right, but because in practice it is right!

  • http://twitter.com/johnchilcote John Chilcote

    I think it’s a both/and. I had students lead last weekend while I was gone and they did great. Were they raw and awkward, and passionate and pure, and excited and accepted? YES. Did they work hard? Definitely. Was it better quality than what they lead weekly in their own services? Probably. It’s all in mentoring and encouraging. When they’re ready, let them lead.

    I think the question that goes before this question, though, is:
    Should we have separate worship services for students? Should generations worship together?

  • bdoo

    I wanna see the young people leading the adults and the old people leading the young. I am blessed to be in a church that allows for this thing once in a while. The youth do not have a separate service during our service they are with us. The only problem I see is that we don’t have some of our older participants go to the “youth” services we have.

  • http://www.theworshipcommunity.com Russ Hutto

    Both. Bring the adults into the students’ world and it keeps those “old folks” young at heart. Bring the students into the adults’ world and it gives those “younguns” a sense of value and worth. Both settings allow for lots of mentorship and coaching opportunities to happen.

    Where we’re at (high school gatherings) we run an every other week rotation. On one week, we have a band that is primarily made up of young adults and young at heart adults (read: old folks) with a student or two that lead the set. The other week we entrust and empower a student leader to craft the setlist and build the band with student peers and if needed an adult or two. That is also “coached” by an adult, which basically means that an adult just checks at certain time markers to see if the student has built the set, put together the team, loaded it all up into planning center, etc.

    It’s not a perfect setup and there have been bumps along the way, but it’s amazing how rubbing elbows with folks that are in a different age bracket than you while focusing on the SAME GOD during worship will knit your hearts together.

    We also pull from a large pool of volunteers of ALL AGES to lead worship in middle school and elementary school services as well.

  • http://twitter.com/chriscox121 Chris Cox

    I love when David approaches Saul about fighting Goliath, he tells him about the beasts he killed watching his fathers sheep. It reminds me youth doesn’t qualify or disqualify you. Experience does. His dad trusted him to watch the sheep and in turn kill the beasts. We must trust students with the Kingdom now, or at 26 years old, Goliath will crush them.

  • Shannon Price

    My son is leading worship in a week and a half at our church. He is 17. This is his first time leading the entire worship set. The worship Elder, praise team leader and pastor all agreed. 1 Timothy 4:12 “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” And if we equate these kids and their involvement today in the church to biblical times, they’re actually late bloomers in worship. I’m excited to see where God is leading my son in his life and his music.
    As a member of the praise team, and not his mother, it brings my worship to a different place knowing that God has placed his trust in someone to bring us into the throne room on Sunday that is of the next generation. It gives me hope for the future in a whole new way.
    I thank God for teenagers that believe so innocently and purely in the worship of the Almighty Father. We could truly learn from them how to be a worshipping people.
    For those of you who are willing, lift my son up in prayer as he takes on this first time adventure. Thanks so much!

    • Shannon Price

      BTW, aren’t we all students no matter our age?

  • http://lams73.me Chris Lam

    firstly: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqgSO8_cRio :D

    I think there needs to be both, but it’s a matter of heart and your willingness to serve. In my church, there are 90% of the music team who are in the student demographic, with a couple of adults here and there. I’d like to see more adults in my church who lead worship… any tips on convincing them to?

    There tends to be a huge focus on technique and skills: e.g. “Oh, so you have Grade 8 in Piano or ? You can lead!” :( I’d rather if it was firstly, the heart for Jesus, and then secondly, technique / skills / whatever you want to put here.

  • John

    thanks for the words carlos. as a student worship pastor, i totally agree with you. reproducing yourself starts with someone who is willing and moldable, not necessarily 100% ready or a “pro” as we might picture in our minds. I really believe that part of being a leader and maturing disciple is lending your credibility to younger leaders and helping them see the potential in themselves that God sees.

  • Nathan Del Turco

    I think it’s both.

    Being a youth worship director one of the most important parts of my job is leading by example. I also believe as worship leaders and pastors we should always be intentional to pour into the next generation of worshipers and worship leaders. Giving them opportunity to lead, and getting out of the way ever chance we get.

    I like to think of it this way..

    As leaders we help set the tone and the culture.

    We pour into our volunteers.

    Lift them up on our shoulders..

    Then..

    We allow them to lead..

    We celebrate the win or help them when they fall.

    Repeat.

    One of the most important things I tell my young worship leaders is this..

    “People won’t remember you because your the best singer, but they will remember the way you love, encourage, and pastor them.”

    ndt.

  • http://jeremybarr.com/ Jeremy

    We push very much in student ministries to give our students ownership in all the aspects of a service, whether running a camera, sound, lights, or playing in the band/leading worship. There’s certainly nothing wrong with adults leading, but I think it gives students more confidence to see other students up there. And they definitely will be the cat’s pajamas the more opportunities they get to lead!

    I would rather see students leading students though simply because it gives them more ownership in the ministry they’re apart of.

  • Stephen Lynch

    Bigger picture – shouldn’t we be setting the expectation for our youth that regardless of age, your service is not only wanted but NEEDED in all areas of the church, not just on stage?

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