#1 Know Your Audience
In any worship setting, knowing the people who you are trying to take with you into God’s presence is so important! Now, I’m not saying you have to be personally acquainted with each student at your gathering, but rather that you should have a general idea about the type of group you’re leading. Every group of youth will have a different flavor, a unique style, and its own set of challenges that you’ll need to break through. For example, the teens I currently lead in Fairbanks, Alaska are a different breed than those I previously led in Sacramento, California! All groups of youth are unique. When you look at it this way, your eyes will be opened to how the Lord would have you lead the specific, unique group of teens He has called you to.
With this in mind, pay attention to the little things – for example, the way your teens respond to certain songs. Take notice of the styles they prefer. Don’t be afraid to change things up! And don’t take it personally if you try something new and don’t get the reaction you were looking for. Of course we’d hope for our teens to press through and worship no matter what, but let’s be realistic. Sometimes teenagers need a little bit of extra help to engage during worship. So pay attention to the way your teens respond (or don’t respond). Learn from them and let it grow you as a leader!
#2 Don’t Be Afraid to Go Deep
Your teens want to go deep, trust me. As the Psalmist so eloquently states in Psalm 42:1 “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.” There is an innate desire and longing in every human being to know and experience God’s love and power. You are actually depriving your teens if you only “skim the surface” and never lead them to the depths of God’s presence that they long to go to.
Of course, you aren’t capable of leading someone to a place you haven’t first been yourself. As a worship leader, don’t deprive your own spirit. Deliberately spend time in the presence of God daily. Allow Him to take you to deeper depths than you’ve ever been. As you do so, you’ll see how this directly affects your worship leading. There have been many instances in my life that I can specifically pin-point when God did a special work in my life, and immediately following there was a dynamic shift in the worship culture of our youth group. I’m telling you, whatever is in you will leak. It affects your worship team, and it affects your teens. Go deep. Take them with you.
#3 Invest in Your Worship Team
I’ve been on several different worship teams, beginning in my junior high years. Some experiences have been amazing, while others were less than impressive. What made the difference didn’t so much have to do with the songs we were playing, the skill level of the musicians, or anything like that. It had everything to do with the community of people I led worship with. I’ve played with several teams that were inwardly focused, not inclusive of others, and very much cliques. This stunts growth in a team and keeps others from reaching their full potential in using their God-given gifts to glorify Him. You must keep the doors open, and your eyes open, so that others are included and your team grows! When a team is inwardly focused, the atmosphere can be dull, versus a team that is community-oriented and focused on leading others into the presence of God with them. The latter will cultivate a free and inviting atmosphere where others desire to participate in worship.
Also, pour into your team as much as possible. Invest in them. Duplicate yourself so that the next generation can carry the torch when it’s their turn. Equip them spiritually and practically. Set them up for success. See them as your very own disciples that God has placed under your leadership for a specific time and purpose! When they’re well-equipped and they begin to take ownership, it definitely encourages the youth in your service to press in even more.
Don’t forget – you are making more of an impact than you know! Let the Holy Spirit lead and guide you as you continue your journey of leading the next generation in worship!
Kayla Kitay is an Intern at Fairbanks First Assembly & oversees the worship ministry of Vertical NextGen . You can Follow Kayla on Instagram.