3 Keys to Engage Teens in Worship


#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!

IMG_2872Kayla Kitay is an Intern at Fairbanks First Assembly & oversees the worship ministry of Vertical NextGen . You can Follow Kayla on Instagram.

Spring: 10 New Worship Albums for 2016

Keep 2016 going strong with these new worship albums & songs!

BETHEL“Have It All” by Bethel Music

Featuring 13 worship leaders from the Bethel Music team & 14 new songs focused on God’s nature, His promises & His presence in our lives, this album captures the refreshing essence of live worship and includes spontaneous moments as those gathered respond in to God’s presence.


“Edge Of Heaven” by River Valley WorshipCc5PObxUcAAX7JC

“We’re writing songs that hopefully capture just piece of the majesty, the greatness, of the God that we serve, sing to and live for.” – Ryan Williams. Edge of Heaven, was recorded live at the River Valley campus.


takeheart“Take Heart” by Covenant Worship

“Take Heart,” the newest record from Covenant Worship – the music ministry of the Dallas area based Covenant Church, is distinctively more upbeat with its bouncy synths and punchy melodies than previous albums. The project is inspired by Jesus’ words in John 16:33 “Take heart, I have overcome the world.”


“Youth Revival” by Hillsong Young & FreeYouth-Revival_portada

Infused with energetic loops & dance beats, Hillsong Young & Free, one of the new creations of the worship ministry that has grown from Hillsong Church in Australia, is a group with a specific goal in mind: come together to make worship music for the next generation.


EW-HAIH_Cover“Here As In Heaven” by Elevation Worship

This new live album “Here As In Heaven,” recorded at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina, declares that the Kingdom of God is here among us & inspires listeners to worship with a new sense of expectation and passion, to let our lives be the evidence of His presence on earth.


“Eclipsed” by Fellowship CreativePhoto_ART

This album tells the story of what God has done & is doing in the lives of Fellowship Church. Walking the line between electronically driven pop and guitar-driven rock worship, “Eclipsed” takes the best of both worlds for a modern worship album that pushes the movement forward.


Audrey Assad-Inheritance Cover

“Inheritance” by Audrey Assad

Audrey Assad’s newest album reflects a unique soundscape featuring lush textures & wide, expansive rhythms that allow her beautiful voice to glide effortlessly over a diverse landscape of prayerful contemplation.


“Let It Echo” by Jesus Culture91WozJlKrRL._SY355_

With an undercurrent of electronic beats, rhythms, and a brisk tempos, “Let It Echo” is different from their preceding records, in the sense that it wasn’t recorded at their large concert settings, but instead, the individual songs were recorded during worship services across various Sundays.


VM-digital-cover-final.190Anchour Studio Sessions” by Vineyard Music

Musicians and worship leaders from all over the Northeast U.S. also collaborated on this effort which will inspire churches and worshippers alike to discover new artistic expression and imagination within the songs we sing.


“Hymns II: Shine On Us” by Michael W. SmithMWS_HymnsII_digi_cover

Michael W. Smith has partnered once again with Cracker Barrel Old Country Store for the exclusive “Hymns II – Shine On Us.” This album features 16 of the top classics.


16 Youth Ministry Ideas to Try in 2016


Here are 16 ideas to help make this your best year of youth ministry ever! (In no particular order)

#1 Get A Coach

  • If you want something you’ve never had this year, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done before! Invest in yourself & take your leadership & youth ministry to the next level by getting an expert coach in your corner. Youth Ministry University launches in March by youth ministry coach Kevin Moore. From my time being coached by Kevin, I would highly recommend registering ASAP!

#2 Harness the Arts

#3 Cast Vision for Campus Clubs

#4 Grow Big by Growing Small

  • Youth ministry is all about relationships! Empower your leaders & build deeper relationships between your students by integrating small groups into your ministry! Here’s how: 4 Payoffs for Building Prolific Small Groups

#5 Don’t Take the Summer Off

#6 Deputize Your Leaders

  • To reach the hundreds & thousands of students in your city you are going to need a large & diverse leadership team to serve alongside of you! Recruit them, honor them, equip them & empower them! Here’s how (With sarcasm): 4 Ways To Shrink Your Volunteer Leadership Team

#7 Impress Parents 

  • “If you are not ministering well to parents, you are not ministering well to teenagers.” – Kevin Moore. Start by making sure your youth gathering is a safe place for teens & then continue by communicating with parents weekly via email to update them on calendar events & sharing resources. Here’s more ideas: Youth Pastor Tips – Working with Parents

#8 Feed Your Guests Cookies

  • Give your best effort to make your first time guests feel like a million bucks! Have your door greeters warmly welcome them as they enter. Honor them from the stage & have everyone cheer for them. Create an environment to meet them personally & give them a gift. We feed our guests fresh-baked cookies & raffle a gift card for one of them to win. Here’s how: Youth Ministry Essentials: 4 step visitor follow-up strategy

#9 Party With Old People

  • At least twice a year we take our students to minister to the elderly of our community in assisted living homes. I’m always amazed to see how some of our shyest students shine the brightest during these outreaches! Just sing a few carols or hymns, pass out handwritten cards & then equip your students to sit & visit with the elderly. It’s a simple way to teach your students what it means to give.

#10 Build a Bridge with Your Kids Pastor

  • Bring unity & alignment between the kids & youth ministries by dreaming & planning with your kids pastor on how to effectively begin building relationships with your new incoming middle schoolers & their parents. Ideas may include picking a promotion date & having an open house night during your youth gathering for new middle schoolers & their parents to come & meet the youth staff.

#11 Don’t Go with the Flow

  • Don’t get stuck in the rut of predictability. It’s a new year & probably time to try something new during your weekly gathering! Keep things fresh & your students engaged by taking your flow-chart or service order & changing up the sequence.

#12 Take a Day Off

  • Work hard, but also rest hard! If you desire to make it for the long haul & have the greatest impact possible on your students, then you better actually take a full day off to rest, hear from God & have fun. There may even be times that you need to let your students, leaders & fellow staff members know of your boundaries!

#13 Enjoy a Spring Staycation

  • Yes some students & their families will travel for spring break, but many of them don’t! Therefore, enjoy a spring staycation by planning a fun & affordable activity or event to enjoy with your students each day of spring break week! Meet for lunch, go to the movies, etc. This is a great way to make connections with new students!

#14 Send Snail Mail

  • In this age of texting & high-speed internet, students rarely receive any snail mail. So order some bulk postcards with your youth ministry logo & info on them & write hand written postcards to your new guests each week thanking them for coming. Also write them to your core students & leaders telling them how awesome they are as often as you can. It’s crazy how something so simple & small can do something so big!

#15 Get New Eye Balls

  • We all develop blind spots over time. Therefore, humble yourself & invite in a trusted pastor or leader who is familiar with youth ministry to watch your weekly youth gathering from start to finish & give you constructive criticism on anything & everything! From games, to transitions, to your message, to how you welcome guests, etc. Taking this kind of inventory will only serve to strengthen you!

#16 Give Your Pastor Kudos

  • Randomly stop by your Pastor’s office & thank him for believing in you & for allowing you to be part his team. Find time to honor him in front of your leaders & students & thank him for his heart to reach the next generation! This will bless him & bless you.

15 New Worship Songs for 2015

Keep your new year going strong by worshipping with these faith-filled & diverse anthems, most of which have just been released this year!

1 “All the Earth” by Vertical Church Bandvertical


2 “Lamb of God” by Vertical Church Band


bethel3 “Ever Be” by Bethel Music & Kalley Heiligenthal


4 “No Longer Slaves”  by Bethel Music, Jonathan David & Melissa Helser


5 “Praise Him” by Aaron Gillespieaaron


6 “You alone are God” by Aaron Gillespie


i-am-they7 “We are Yours” by I Am They


8 “King of Love” by I Am They


9 “Light a Fire” by Bridge Citybridge


10 “Face to Face” by Bridge City


cover170x17011 “Set Apart” by Worship Central & Tim Hughes


12 “Worth It All” by Worship Central featuring Ben Cantelon


13 “On the Throne ” by Desperation Band featuring Kari Jobedesperation-band


album-swell14 “Healing is Here” by Deluge, Daniel Eric Groves & Jonathan Stockstill


15 “Fill Me Now” by Darnisha Taylordarnisha


5 Brand New Must Have Worship Songs!

planet shakersPlanetshakers “This Is Our Time”

This fun, joy infused Aussie praise anthem is electronica laced & features a “Keytar!!”


Justin Jarvis “Heaven’s Light

Justin JarvisWith gritty  vocals & an acoustic indie sound, this song is a celebration of the Creator’s splendor & light!


desperation-bandDesperation Band/ John Engan “Make A Way”

A powerful piano-layered declaration of hope in Jesus’ saving grace!


Worship Central/ Tim Hughes “The Way” 


A synth driven celebration of “The light shining bright in the darkness” – Jesus ‘The Way!’


tyler millerTyler Miller “Million Miles”

A longing heart-cry for an encounter with the Savior’s embrace, this ballad pares pianos & strings for a beautiful sound!