At one of my previous churches where I was a youth pastor, the lead pastor did not want us to pull students out of church for our own youth service. I now attend a church that has a church plant right on the same campus and some students prefer to go to this service, rather than the regular church service. We are getting pushback from parents who want their children in church with them. So am I way off base in thinking that these parents need to back off and allow the students to attend the services where they feel most connected and involved in their worship?
I understand that parents like to have their students in church with them. I like that too. It’s cool to look down the aisle and see my boys worshiping with my wife and me. Then I see what happens when they attend the church plant and get actively involved in the worship experience, and I need to step back and rethink my intentions about having my children in church for me. I have to admit that having my children in church with me is something I like. But what they desire is a worship service where they participate and actively worship in a way that works for them. (Ok, so they also like the loud band that plays the worship music.)
I suspect many youth pastors have felt this same tension. Do you get pushback when you hold a youth service? If you take the students to another church or a worship event, do you get complete support from parents? How do you respect the parents while also accomplishing what a youth leader needs to do and that’s to lead youth in the congregation and help them move into a close relationship with Jesus Christ? Most of the time, that happens within the existing church, but what about those times when it happens best somewhere other than your church?
Worship is so much more than just making sure we are in church once or twice a Sunday for 60-75 minutes. Many of our youth do understand that…maybe better than their parents.