As our churches “Think Orange” and have more “Sticky Faith”, we in the Middle School/Jr. High ministry world may be facing the challenge of returning to inter-generational worship times. In our youth rooms and buildings we can have worship served up to the specific taste of our students. When we enter into a space with a wider span of taste and preference, we may be facing the wide division between younger and older… difference almost like that between Popsicles and Prune Juice?
Who doesn’t love popsicles? Everyone has a great memory of eating the cool, sweet snack on a hot summer day. They are just the perfect sugary treat that just make every kids coming running with excitement! One small little thing, as tasty, colorful and fun as they are, they hold very little real nutritional value. Realistically you cannot survive on popsicles, as you grow older you still enjoy the occasional one here and there, but your taste changes. You realize there is more to life than POP-sicles.
Isn’t that our dilemma working with young teens who have been fed a constant diet of sweet, fun, and sugary POP music? Even when they come to youth group, we serve up upbeat, fun positive jams as they hang out and get ready for the night. Then in an effort to connect to the rest of church we head over to “big church” with the other generations and it’s- Prune Juice time…
Mmmm, nothing like a big tall glass of ice cold prune juice on a hot day!? Oh, so tasty and delicious? Really? Does anyone really like prune juice? I am sure there is some people out there that love it, to those of you- I apologize. The reality however is prune juice is kind of known as an old people drink, or something you drink to “get things moving again” (you know what I mean). People drink it because it good for them, healthy, and it helps them in various ways as they get older.
Maybe like the slower more traditional style of the worship music in many of the main sanctuaries. Our students attend the service and are served up the prune juice of traditional church music. Define that however you like in your setting, area of the country, or denomination. We do it because it is the right thing to do, it good for them, or it is supposed to make them more spiritually healthy as they mature in their faith.
The thing however is, every generation at some point had their POP-sicle music that was, loved and enjoyed, but for some reason it has always been harder to move that into the church. While we also need to respect our history and the deeper music that honestly is great for us, isn’t there something that can we served up that would meet the spiritual needs of maturing faith while also appealing to the spiritual excitement of young faith? Maybe PIZZA…
Pizza is one of those things that holds mass appeal and crosses all demographics and ages. Being in youth ministry, we know pizza is kind of the perfect food as it can have all the major food groups you need. It also is a flexible food in that it can be made in endless ways and adjusted based on the taste of a whole group. Let’s get down the basic of this whole thing though, pizza is bread (crust), sauce (vegetable), cheese (milk), and occasionally some good old fashion meat.
I would like to suggest pizza-style approach to worship is what we need in order for us to have great balanced inter-generational worship times. We need remember and return to the true basics of the….
1.) Bread of life (John 6), Jesus as the foundation of the whole thing.
2.) The Fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5) as we come together in love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, self-control and yes, patience with each other’s differences.
3.) Top it off with a balance of both the milk and the meat of the Word of God (I Cor. 3).
Maybe just maybe we can find a way to meet in the middle somewhere between young and old, and popsicle and prune juice, offering a more balanced approach to everyone’s tastes and hunger!??
How are you seeing this lived out in your church and ministries? How are you serving up a balanced pizza-style worship setting? How are you struggle with this?