A fellow faculty member said to me the other day, “These kids really don’t like to worship.” I understand how that may appear so.
We have mandatory chapel once a week at my school. The speaker is usually my bud, Jeremy. He does a good job. Most of the kids listen to what he shares. We also sing a bit. Well, a few of the kids sing with the band of students that play. Most just stand there. Even many of the kids who sing their lungs out at youth group just stand there. Obviously, we have not discerned the dynamic that facilitates freedom and worship during chapel. But, that doesn’t mean the students do not like to worship. On the contrary, I think that it is one of their favorite, even if undiscovered, things. So, in bible class, I try to find ways to facilitate worship amongst us all: the lovers and the leery. It’s a tough assignment. Yesterday, I tried to do so for the first time during this section of bible class, as many of the students had requested such. I learned a lot.
It’s always hard to discern the best posture and mode the first time that a group gathers for such. Do I put them close together? far apart? Will they want to see one another? Will that make them nervous? Should I put the words on a screen in the front of the room? Will that be more help or crutch? What will help break up the thousands of fears that float through the minds of teenagers?
In the class are some of the students (people actually) who know me best in the world, we’ve been everywhere and through everything together, we’ve asked one another all the ugly questions and screamed at and to God often, together. We are pretty dang comfortable “out there” with one another. Then there are those who have sung thousands of songs with me, but have never been out so far, with anyone, far as I can tell. And then there are those who seemed a bit terrified even sitting in a darkened room, with music blaring – it helps those of us who don’t sing as well as others, out of earshot of any other.
And one last group, those who have not spent much time in such a place…but they are made for it, nonetheless. They are those instantly addicted, as am I and my comrades.
I spread them out, cranked my speakers and filled that auditorium up with sound. Some of us walked and prayed and sang, some of us stood and sang, some of us sat and sang, some of us stared ahead like deer, seemingly terrified. It was okay. But nothing like I’ve seen it even among novices and the unacquainted. I listened and watched and tried to discern what? what needed to give?
When the final bell rang, I turned down the music and motioned so that all, who desired, could leave. Many stayed on, still. Breathing a little more of the better air. Several whispered, “Do we have to leave?”
I don’t think that I got the dynamic right. Maybe bringing us in close will be better for these. Something seemed amiss…some facet that would have facilitated flow and trust escaped me. ( I have some ideas for next time.) But, I really think that these kids do like to worship. I think we adults read them wrong on that. Maybe I think it because the last questions that the students asked me as they left was, “Can we do it again? Can we do it everyday?”