What middle schoolers taught me about worship

Yesterday I was able to participate in one of the best worship experiences I’ve ever been a part of.

There was hand raising.

There was dancing.

There was even some shouting.

But it definitely wasn’t done in the way that you’re thinking.

Even though I work in a church, I thought it was important for me to find a place to serve that was outside of my job description. Because of that, I’ve been playing bass in the middle school worship band since I got here in July. It’s a fun thing to do that allows me to play music (my biggest passion) and still be around students.

We decided recently to change our typical worship set up and try to get the students more involved. In case you didn’t know, middle schoolers don’t seem to be too engaged at 9:30 in the morning. The solution? Play songs that have extra elements that are fun for them to do other than simply sing. With that in mind, we opened with Happy Day and Jesus Saves yesterday.

Before Happy Day even started, we had the students raise their hands over their head to form an “O” with their arms. They would do this whenever the chorus came around and we said, “Oh, happy day!”

We introduced Jesus Saves to them next and taught them that whenever we sang, “Raise a shout” that they were to yell, “Wooo!” as loud as they could. They even gave me a mic (side note: I can’t sing worth a poo so them doing this was probably very scary to them) so that I could lead the woo-ing.

I was a woo-leader.

Throughout both of these songs I saw kids singing who I’ve never seen sing. Instead of standing in the crowd with their hands by their sides and no look on their face, kids were clapping and singing and even oh-ing or woo-ing. At one point in Happy Day one of the kids started doing the worm across the front of the crowd.

It was one of the most holy worship experiences I’ve ever had and it was nowhere near the quiet, “reverent” worship experience you think of when you think “holy.”

It was loud.

It was fun.

It was even a little crazy.

More than anything though, it was a bunch of people who love Jesus coming together and celebrating and enjoying being together and singing to him.

Worship isn’t about trying to act holy by raising your hands and closing your eyes. It’s not about singing softly to a piano or an acoustic guitar while holding hands in a circle. It’s about giving what you have back to God and doing it with everything you’ve got. And that’s what these students were doing. They were laying down their pride and desire to be cool and engaging God in a way many of them had never done before.

Worship is all about meeting with Jesus. If it takes a little woo-ing or dancing for someone to meet with him then let them woo or dance.

If it takes throwing their hands above their head to make an “O” and yelling “oh!” at the top of their lungs then by all means, let them yell and raise their hands.

If it takes doing the worm or dancing then let them dance till they can’t dance anymore.

Whatever it takes, it’s all about meeting with Jesus.

Middle schoolers taught me that sometimes it takes an approach that’s a little outside the box.

And I’m okay with that.

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