First, I read this article. So in order to understand this post, I recommend reading it too.
All done? Good. Here are my thoughts:
Sometimes I think we’ve got it all wrong on what kids really want. For some reason (another blog post for another time) we think kids want a show, a spectacle, a wow-factor. But I submit that what kids really want, really deep down, is to meet God.
Maybe it’s because I work in a relatively small church with a relatively small youth group, and because we are physically and monetarily unable to put on a show, that this seems clear to me. The lights, the throbbing subwoofers, the wildly creative interactive elements, the mesmerizing and sometimes motion-sickness-inducing video lyric backgrounds, the hip worship leader with the swooping v-neck, the dynamic, powerful, passionate guest speaker, the smokey haze, the veritable frenzy of “good” worship, ALL… THE… STUFF…
It isn’t what kids want.
They want to meet God. And sometimes it feels like in all our planning and preparation we forgot to invite him. It’s almost like we secretly think that he’ll see our show, and be so impressed that he’ll have to come. I mean who wouldn’t want to see a giant banner fall from the sky with our show’s logo glittering on it? Even God would want to see that. ‘Cause it’s cool. And it’s what the kids want, right? It’s what they see on MTV. We’re speaking their language. We’re meeting them where they are. We’re like Paul on Mars Hill reciting the poetry of our culture. Right?
I know this sounds like I’m pooping on the big youth conferences. I’m not. I promise. Okay maybe a little bit. But I have good friends who work on that kind of stuff. I know they’re not stupid godless people. They’re doing the best they can with what they’ve got. And they do love and invite God. I’ve been to my fair share of those big events. And for the most part, they’re really really great. All I’m saying is that we need to remember what kids really want. Heck, who cares what they want! What they really need is to meet God. And meeting God has pretty much nothing to do with the show.
That’s why a group of thousands of kids can walk away from a huge conference that turned into little more than an unplugged campfire session saying it was the best thing ever.
And frankly, God doesn’t need our help. In fact, sometimes, I think we get in the way. We’re trying to introduce kids to the God who scattered the stars, spun the atom, knit our bodies, parted the Red Sea, chose thieves, prostitutes, and murderers, humbled himself in humanity, bore the burden of mankind’s past, present, and future sin, gave himself up to suffer and die, defeated death like it was nothing, set in motion a glorious collaborative plan for creation’s redemption… meeting that God is the biggest “wow-factor” in the universe.