I have to be honest with you all, "Youth Sunday" services drive me bonkers.
Forgive the rantiness but here is why . . .
First, not all young people are the same. Yet when we think of "Youth Sunday" we think of fun, upbeat, energetic worship as if we can put any young person up they and they can perform like circus monkeys to make the rest of us feel good about including young people in worship. I don't think so. Just ask yourself, "What if youth Sunday was EXACTLY like every other Sunday?" Folks would wonder why there is even a "Youth Sunday" if it's going to be the same as every year. As they should, Youth do not perform for us.
But . . . youth need to be included in worship and this is the only way it will happen!
Yes, of course they do and I totally feel for those of you in congregations steeped in the "Youth Sunday" culture, but this is simply NOT okay IMHO. If we expect young people to develop a sense of worship and if we REALLY want young people involved in worship, shouldn't they be part of worship through the year? I think so.
Now please do not get me wrong, like so many traditions, I think we engage in "Youth Sunday" with the best of intentions. I assume that the intent and motivations behind "Youth Sunday" are two fold: one, we want an occasional service that is more "spirited" than normal and, two, we want young people to be involved in worship.
So here is what I would suggest:
If you want young people to really be engaged in worship, have them take part in the service of worship EVERY Sunday as you would with anyone. They are worship leaders who happen to be young. Honor their stage of life and gifts, sure, but also acknowledge their equality in helping the people of God worship together.
And of you want to have a service that is "Youthful" do just that. Now a "Youthful Sunday" I can get behind as long as it is really about stepping outside of ways that the community may normally worship AND it is planned and lead not only by youth, but by the fullness of the congregation, the young and the not-so-young.
Okay, now surely folks can add some nuance to my rant, but let me know if am I off here?
I also know that some of you have broken this cycle, so please do tell how you did it!