Updated: Nov 11, 2019
by Teresa D. Goins
I had no clue what I was getting myself into when I accepted the position as Youth Choir Director a year-and-a-half ago at my church! The current Youth Choir had dwindled to eight or nine members after several kids had graduated from high school; so, there was a real need for replenishment. My plan was simple. I would recruit my then 12-year-old granddaughter Madison, who in turn would recruit her friends to join the choir. We began with three kids, grew to six, and now have a potential of 10 new choir members. Having worked with church kids for some 30 years, I thought I knew it all; but this job would be different. Southern Star is 60 miles from my home in Frankfort, which meant I would be transporting kids to church for two Saturday rehearsals and one Sunday performance each month in my personal vehicle.
For a number of years now, my constant companions have been Madison and her little friends; BUT … being ‘cooped up’ in a cramped vehicle … with as many as six young teenagers … for an hour-and-a-half each way to church … three days a month … is another story! As is sometimes the case in Christian ministry, I have learned almost as much from them as they, from me. If you’ve never had the privilege of being so ‘close’ to a group of young people, I’ll be happy to share what I have learned.
Number One: Teenagers today are loud! According to an online decibel chart by Yale Environmental Health Services, a whisper registers 25 decibels (dBAs); a vacuum cleaner, 75 dBAs; and a jet engine at 100 feet, 140 dBAs; with the “level at which sustained exposure may result in hearing loss,” 80-90 dBAs. On our way to church, six kids talk at the same time, and six different YouTube videos compete for phone noise. If one normal conversation registers approximately 65 dBAs,* the noise inside my car must be off the logarithmic scale!
Even so, I believe the fearlessness by which a teenager expresses himself can be used for good! In Acts, the Bible says, “… they preached the word of God with boldness” (v. 4:31). Hebrews teaches us to “come boldly to God’s throne of grace” (v. 4:16); and Luke speaks of the shameless audacity with which we should pray (v. 11:9). If a teenager’s natural tendency is to be loud, let him use his voice for Youth Choir. Invite your most vociferous young person to lead Sunday School or deliver a youth sermon. God enjoys the raucous teenager! Our job is to point his passions in the right direction.
Number Two: Teenagers today are always hungry! On Youth Sunday, immediately after Sunday School, our gracious church provides a mammoth breakfast for us. But the teenagers in my car (on our way TO church) cannot wait that long: “I’m hungry! I need a snack!” Then, on the way home FROM church (just a couple of hours after breakfast), they are hungry AGAIN: “Can we stop for ice cream?” I’m convinced that teenagers’ stomachs have holes in them!
But is hunger a negative thing? “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6). “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that … you may grow up in your salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). Transform your teenagers’ self-indulgent desires for sustenance into a ravenous, insatiable hunger for God! “I am the Lord your God … Open wide your mouth and I will fill it” (Psalms 81:10)
Number Three: Teenagers today are pushy! In my car on our way to church, if Kid #1 cannot get Kid #2’s attention, he is tenacious. If Kid #2 is preoccupied, Kid #1 doesn’t care how (or how many times) he interrupts! Even so, I believe we can use our young people’s fiery fervor to benefit the church. “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men” (Colossians 3:23). Teach your church kids that God is worthy of fanatical worship! Dare them to expect answers to their prayers, blessings from their tithes, and genuine fulfillment in their work for the Lord!
As church leaders, we must not stifle our young people simply because they’ve yet to mature. We must encourage their boldness; nurture their hunger; and applaud their true zest for life. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Enthusiasm is the mother of effort, and without it, nothing great was ever achieved.”