Luther and youth music
Monday, July 02, 2007
Martin Luther had a heart for Youth group music ministry. He wanted to make great songs relevant to the kids... check it out in his intro to his mate Johann Walters hymnal, the Wittenberg Geistliche Gesangbuchlein.
'Therefore, I too, with the help of others, have brought together some sacred songs in order to make a good beginning and to give an incentive to those who can better carry on the Gospel and bring it to the people... And these songs were arranged in four parts for no other reason than I wanted to attract youth (who should be trained in music and other fine arts) away from love songs and carnal pieces and to give them something wholesome to learn instead... It is unfortunate that everyone else forgets to teach and train the poor young people; we must not be responsible for this too.'
I find Youth group music ministry really hard. In our context it is difficult to practice and get a team of youth and leaders together to do a good job. We generally run our music in a rock band format with a guitarist, bass player and the guitarist usually sings. This is partly because the sound we produce can be heavier and more fluid, but it is also because I'm always pushed for time. Unfortunately, I end up spending lots more time on Night church music than youth.
I think however that these two ministries are inextricably linked. Our night church singing culture has shifted dramatically over the last two years from being stiff and non-expressive to being more vibrant and joyful. This is mainly because of youth group guys coming to night church and shaping the culture to match what they loved about music at youth. This shift showed me how important the youth group are to night church ministry. I had a chat with a mate of mine, Tim, about this phenomenon. He saw the same thing happen at his old church. He said that the youth became 'a dominant minority who were intentional in the way that they shaped night church culture.' (check out Tim's new church here)
Last year I spoke to the senior youth group about their impact on night church. They wanted to see it's singing culture change from the way it was to the way they saw Senior Youth music (alive). There were three main ways that they helped to change culture and these were the same three ways that stuff changed at Tim's church.
1) don't hang in the ghetto. Too often Youth group guys who come to church choose a group of seats at the back or to the side of church and they all sit there. They don't mix with other guys and they end up becoming a ghetto. I asked the youth to move away from ghetto mode and to sit at the front and in the middle. The reason being that everyone else can then see them and the way they are singing and it will be infectious.
2) Sing loud, sing proud. For some reason Youth were singing their hearts out at youth group but were shy and timid when it came to night church because they felt intimidated by the older guys. This had to change if they were going to have an impact.
3) Get involved in church ministries. We are blessed to have a youth group that is committed to seeing its members hook in to ministry at church. Dave has taught the guys to be passionate about having a life of ministry. We have youth group kids involved in teaching Sunday School, sound, music and the ministry of looking out for those younger than them at youth group. It was through the kids being involved in music ministry and being up the front that helped to shape the culture the most.
Youth group music ministry is strategic because the kids who are singing there may well shape the culture of church for the next ten years. While the situation our youth is in makes it hard to give youth music a good go, it is well worth investing the time and energy.
Posted byDan at 11:18 AM