When was the Last Time YOU Worshiped? | UMC YoungPeople
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December 2017

When was the Last Time YOU Worshiped?

By Kelly Peterson-Cruse

Kelly Peterson-Cruse

My days as a local church youth worker are far behind me, but I do remember a stark realization I had after leaving my last position… I hadn’t “worshiped” in two years. By worship, I do not mean doing all that had to be done on Sunday: worship band, Sunday school with my youth, being available to my youth and parents…etc. etc. etc. By worship I mean truly spending time with God, BEING a part of worship through the message, prayers and music. Worship is often equated with being a part of a day of Sabbath which is defined in Exodus 20:8; the Sabbath is a day of rest on the seventh day, commanded by God to be kept as A HOLY DAY OF REST, as God rested from creation. But honestly, when is the last time you as a youth worker ACTUALLY worshiped?

According to Marcus Jones, 40% of paid youth workers “admit to struggling to worship in the church which they serve”. While 72% of volunteer youth workers said “it was moderately to very easy to worship in their own church”. So what gives?

Jesus said that Mary made the right choice as she chose to be in the presence of Christ rather than focusing on all she had to do.

According to Ruth Bennett, youth workers cannot truly receive and immerse in the worship experience because “they do not want to look vulnerable by exhibiting true human struggles and to appear not being “on” during the work of the church”. We fail to “walk the talk” when we fail to be real, separate ourselves from our “to do’s” and BE present and fully engaged in the worship experience. Remember Martha and Mary in Luke 10? Jesus said that Mary made the right choice as she chose to be in the presence of Christ rather than focusing on all she had to do.

I have written on the subject of Sabbath and Worship before, but here are a couple of reminders…

  • It is NOT a sin to say “NO”. In fact, you have permission to discern when something is asked of you. God will find the person who needs to take this on if it is not what you are supposed to be taking on yourself. Prayer and time to give an answer allows you to truly discern your answer, rather than feeling obligated to say “yes” just because your pastor, or a parent or even a youth, asks you to do something.
  • Create Sabbath “boundaries”. I know pastors who on their day of Sabbath, put messages on their phone AND email that they will not be answering, and gives them another option if it is an emergency.
  • What better witness to your youth than to truly worship on Sunday, with no distractions, just intentional listening, praying and participating. You might have to “claim” it. No, I will not teach Sunday school during worship. No, I will not sit with my youth during worship. I will not use an electronic bible on my phone but an actual book as to not be distracted. No, I cannot have a “quick” meeting or conversation that takes me away from worship.
  • According to J. Dana Trent, you have to create a Sabbath Plan that is S.M.A.R.T. because your day of Sabbath needs to stretch beyond worship. Your plan needs to Specific, Measurable, Achievable (take in to consideration your prep and time if you have youth group Sunday night so, not a whole day-maybe a block of hours), Relevant, and Time-bound. In her book she gives the history and helps you plan and maintain the balance you’ve been looking for using humor and engaging honest advice.
You have permission to discern when something is asked of you.

So what are you waiting for? It’s time to reclaim your time in worship!!!

Resources: “For Sabbath’s Sake” - https://www.amazon.com/Sabbaths-Sake-Embracing-Worship-Community/dp/0835817199 Too Busy for God - http://www.lifeway.com/Article/Too-Busy-for-God “Conversation with Ruth Bennett” Marcus Jones for Premire.Org - https://www.premier.org.uk/News/UK/Four-in-ten-paid-youth-workers-struggle-to-worship-in-their-church