Ditching Youth Sunday
Many churches in our Diocese dedicate a single Sunday of the year to display the youth visibly for a “youth Sunday” service. These annual events allow the youth to serve in a new capacity, but it begs the question: why are youth not serving every Sunday? The story at your church may be different. Maybe your youth already serve as lectors, ushers, and greeters every week. If they do, great; how else can they be involved? If your congregation is not to that point I believe there is work to do.
Here is a reminder for us from the liturgy for Holy Baptism.
Celebrant addresses the congregation, saying:
Will you who witness these vows do all in your power to support this person in their life in Christ?
People: We Will.
As believers in Christ and members of the Church, we vow to support spiritual formation and growth of every baptized individual. Not only do we vow to support them, we vow to do all in our power to support them. If we dig deeper into what it truly looks like when we support others, we realize that it is a heart-shaping process that can be painful. Supporting someone in their formation means that we take the back seat, we stabilize the ladder for them to stand, and we walk behind and encourage them forward. It is the painful process of giving up part of ourselves for the sake of another human being.
One part of supporting the children and youth in our churches is about providing them a place to serve. Imagine the formational shift that would occur in our congregations if that happened. Our senior adults could teach a teenager how to pronounce words in a reading before the service begins. A new family could be greeted by a fifth grader at the door. A ninth grader could walk alongside a parent to bring the offering to the altar. This endeavor to step aside embodies the theology of lifelong formation.
My encouragement to you is take small steps. Discern with your Rector ways to support the youth Sunday mornings. Perhaps the first step is to encourage the youth to sit in the front two rows and observe the fine details of the service. Maybe the next step is having youth greet newcomers with a smile and handshake at the front door. I do not think you should immediately ditch your youth Sunday service, but I challenge you to think about its mission and how it can be more widely applied.
My prayer for us as a community is that we begin to live into our baptismal vows and step aside for the sake of another. It is when we give up part of ourselves that we are changed as individuals and as a church.