YOUTH SUNDAY with Multiple Churches
One of the silver-linings of the shift to virtual worship during the pandemic has been the way it gave many of us an excuse to experiment with ambitious outside-the-box worship ideas we never would have thought to attempt before. For your consideration today: Multi-Church Youth Sunday.
Before the pandemic, we dipped our toe in the water of a traveling Youth Sunday service. The idea was to craft a service that our Multi-Church Youth Group could lead roughly once a month rotating between all of our churches. But it never quite got off the ground. All the “what if”s and logistical puzzle-piecing killed any enthusiasm our youth had for undertaking this monumental project.
But last year, as we approached our usual Youth Sunday celebration, we realized that all 4 churches were worshipping online. In the blink of an eye, the hurdles of who gets to host which kids when, where, and how became moot. So last June, for the first time in the history of our little experiment with multi-church Youth Ministry, our youth led all four churches in a single worship experience.
It was the perfect representation of both the challenge and joy in multi-church youth ministry. It was no easy feat recruiting and coordinating more than 100 video clips across multiple congregations. But the impact of our combined youth was massive. Youth Sunday in one church might have involved as few as 2-3 kids. Instead, together we were delighted by the faith, creativity, and skill of some 50+ youth.
This past month, we had our second (and hopefully final) fully virtual multi-church Youth Sunday. Unlike last year when everything was done in isolation, we were able to record a few pieces in-person. The Youth Band is my favorite example of the benefit. Alone, we would not have had enough musicians to do ensemble music, but with multiple churches we had enough youth to pull together two hymns by our Youth Pick Up Band, featuring a full horn section, multiple drummers and rotating guitarists. In this way, the youth were able to express their faith through readings, prayers, music, visual art, skits, film, and mini-reflections.
I don’t know what this multi-church Youth Sunday looks like next year. Maybe a traveling service? Maybe a special evening event? Maybe a hybrid of pre-recorded videos and live in-person contributions? But I do know that whatever the details, you can bet we will be doing multi-church youth worship in some form.
Written by: Rev Jack Perkins Davidson