7/31/2006

What do you think . . . tell me, please!


Friday night at Summer Conference is great. After worshiping all week with the same students we form a cool relationship. Tonight I find myself somewhat frustrated with a mentality that some people have (certainly a minority . . . I hope) when it comes to what is appropriate in worship. Austin, the FR intern this summer and I discussed this at length on the ride home. I have never been to a large rock and roll festival like Ozzfest. I HAVE enjoyed my fair share of Aerosmith shows. I take offense that these secular shows are sometimes more fun than our worship services in the (Capital C) Church. Now before you get all huffy and say, “Well quantify “fun” for me!” hear me out. I have over the years at our CIY events held to the rule that church groups should stay in their assigned seating area and not charge the front of the stage during worship. For the focus of the week this can cause distraction and hurdles to what we are trying to accomplish on a larger level. In general I also believe it is more effective for students to stay in their assigned seating area where they can worship together as a group and be with their youth coaches. Our events are about community. Another reason I discourage students from coming up to the front of the stage is we incorporate activities in the middle of our worship services to help focus the students on the night’s theme. Many of these require the students to go through reflective action steps or craft type projects. We utilize the front of the stage for this many times. However, the venue we happened to be playing in tonight is an arena on Southern Illinois Universities campus. We have tons of space in the back and up front for students to be expressive during worship. I tend to be a bit more laxed as a week of conference progresses. Feeling that the teaching of the Word and the Holy Spirit’s moving during the week changes the countenance of an entire assembly there doesn’t seem to be much danger for the focus to be hurt. I am generalizing here. The reality of the situation I found myself in tonight was that God had been moving all week and many students had life changing experiences. These young men and women, with their youth coaches, wanted a time to shout it from the mountain tops. They wanted to celebrate freedom in Christ. I felt this all day coming on me as walked around campus and listened to stories from each group about the victories they wanted to celebrate tonight. I have led worship at large events for quite some time in my life now. Earlier on as a worship band and leader I took hits on being to “showy” at times. Over the years, as I have built relationships and more clearly defined my philosophy of worship leadership these comments have dissipated. I’m also more confident that I understand the responsibility to educate students about appropriate worship in the assembly. Realizing that I need to take the entire group at the same time and not allow certain fractions to overtake the majority with their own agenda I am constantly evaluating what is proper. So why not let students come down on the last night and let loose for a few songs. The reality is that a ticket to a good music festival could be around 50 bucks. A registration to Summer Conference is about 200 bucks.
Tonight I may be angry at every bitty lady I’ve ever seen telling kids not to run in church. That hurts my heart. I had a conversation with an individual tonight backstage about this. Their comment was that such behavior was interrupting their personal worship. Yeah, I am angry tonight. Sure, we are well intentioned when we teach students to be respectful of others around them. That school of thought when applied here is dangerous. It trickles down and boxes God up. As a rule, our tech staff takes beach balls from students during worship because they might distract someone or break some equipment. I think we should be the ones passing them out. It looks like fun to me. Have you ever heard of a serious beach ball accident during worship? Let me know. For the Gospel we preach to harmonize with world we live in we must allow it to be responded to, with the fullest range of emotions in our corporate settings. Sure I had some problems tonight with a few boys who started jumping into each other instead of up and down. I also had one little girl who started crowd surfing. She could have been dropped and hurt bad. As it should be, there were plenty of youth leaders in their midst to redirect these small pockets to a safer form of expression. Should we stop it completely because that type of thing might break out. I have never crowd surfed before in my life. I want to some day. SHAME if I have to go to Ozzfest to do it. If we really are living together in true unity then we will have all the moments to share in together that the body might need. We will have a time to cry and be still TOGETHER. We will have a time to Repent TOGETHER. There should also be a time to let loose TOGETHER. Stop OLD BITTY CHURCH LADY THINKING. It stagnates the joy inside our hearts. This Sunday run in church. Get all the kids to run and laugh.

8 comments:

kpreach682004 said...

Johnny,
thank you for useing your time and talents to help us kids grow into christ. going into this conference i had some real doubts on attending LCCS into the youth programs. But with all the songs and the themes, programs and everything else that happened has really reafermed my choice of youth ministry. I just want to thank you for your energy and allaround love for christ you showed on stage. I also want to thank you becasue you inspired me to start writting again. During the conference my friend and i wrote a song. i just want to think you for using your talent and in a way encourageing me to use my talents.
thanks you so much
Chad Koke
lincoln, Il
I play for God

Anonymous said...

You've said it and I agree!

Jason Raitz said...

Johnny,

I love you, but I need paragraphs. I am 30 and so are you, and I can't see the words. Help me, help you. I want to say something to you, don't get mad, but I love you, I do. Miss you.

CalvinNo5 - Chris Allen said...

Hey Johnny... I was one of those Youth Coaches out there enjoying the band. You guys played very well. I really enjoyed the violin (or electric fiddle ??) ,and would have loved to hear it playing a solo, or back up to a quiet moment.

Anyhow.... I'm one of those that sometimes hasn't quite come around to worshipping like we did. I'm not a old stick in the mud or anything, but I think that when I think of worship it is something that we set aside specifically to raise up praise to the Lord God Almighty. So, I specifically was pumped with the acoustic set and the times when you also used some hymns (even the Christmas Hymns as well). I really like the songs that have the focus squarely on God and we are adoring Him, with words that can only be sung to Him. I tend to want to stay away form songs that could also be sung to your sweetheart.

But, that's just my whacky way of looking at things. All in all, I was very pleased to have been there and thought you all did an outstanding job.

Keep it going and keep pointing those kids to the Awesome God.

Grace and Peace,

Chris Allen (CalvinNo5)
My Blog is:
www.reform-shire.blogspot.com

Please visit and if you want I'll add your blog as a link on mine.

niki connatser said...

Thank you THank you Thank you I amso happy so hear your take on this I am one of the members of the church that started the rush to the front,this week at CIY in Carbondale. I am a mother of six, and this was my first CIY ever. Wow what in impact your band had on our group. Our church has its own Teen worship service with a band and area just for teens, they are allowed to worship how they want too not how we tell them to. They jump and sing and praise God every chance they can get, we had to hold them back all week from coming up front for every song, they just want to praise Jesus like kids. We were stuck up on the sides and in tje bleachers for most of the week and we had a group of about 100 kids the space did not make it possible for them to worship in they're normal way, so to allow them up front was awesome for them they loved it. WE actually had one student a first timer to CIY come to the Lord through that worship,He thought that he had to be a stuffy , hands in pocket christian who did not move if he wanted to be a child of God, then in the moment that our group went forward and Rocked out for God, he thought I can do this, I want to be a part of this, this is a GOd I want to serve, and he was baptised in the lake on campus. So thank you for allowing the Lord to work in this kids life and allowing him to be more real for all of us. You were awesome this week. Thank you from a skeptical mom who was proven wrong.I cannot wait until my children are old enough to attend CIY and if they feel like it rock out For Jesus

niki said...

Awesome! I agree with you 100%. I am a mother of six young children,and this was my first CIY ever. It was great. Mostly due in part to you and your band. I was a sponsor for one of the groups tht went forward this week to Rock out for Jesus up front. At our church we have a special teen service with a teen band, and we allow our teens to worship however they want to worship. We have teens who stay in they're seats we have teens who dance and sing and jump and praise Jesus it's how they want to worship. This week we had to restrain our kids from going up front for every song, they feel united in jumping and singing together for Jesus. HOw can we sing a song that says "we'll be a dancing generation" and not allow them to dance.We were up in the bleachers or higher for most of the week and that did not allow for worship the way we worship, so when we got close enough to do it, it was awsome, we had kids who in that moment of going up front said, "wow I want to be apart of that." If this is what loving God is about then Yes I want him in my life and he was baptised in the lake on campus. Thats what it's about. Witnessing to ALL types. We certainly had plenty of stand still and worship Jesus songs, and our group did that too. But they loved the time where they got to go down front and JAM FOR JESUS! So as a stuffy mom of six I hope that you continue to allow for all types of worship in your concerts, and if you ever want to crowd surf for Jesus come to C.C.C.C in Lincoln Nebraska we will hold you up and make your dreams come true.NIKI

Anonymous said...

johnny, Jesus said to worship in Spirit and in truth. That leaves style wide open. In these matters I think we should have freedom. If you want to sit or stand great if you want to jump with joy great as long as it is in spirit and truth.
I'm the old guy 47 that told you about our kid who came and hated Christian music. On wed. when you played dancing generation and came forward to jump, thats when he made his first time decision for Jesus. That is awesome.
If I had my way we would stand and jump the whole night. A sign of a good worship service is if you are sweating after it. However I'm ok with the slow stuff,I'm worried that the joy,passion fun is being looked at in a negative light.
You did a great job thanks for the final night I love being apart of the dancing generation

Rebecca said...

Hey Johnny, this was my first time to a CIY event. You guys picked the best songs. I was not looking to go to get closer to God. I was asked to go to be another female sponsor in our group. I came out of it really praising God the way I should praise God. It was wonderful. I need a favor of you. I need a song that you guys sang that I really enjoyed. It was the dancing and singing song. Can you help me out with that one. Also is there anyway I can get the songs that you guys sang so I can continue to praise God at my home. I would love that. The other songs were just what I needed too and thanks for being there for these kids. Continue to be the Jesus in these kids lives. I was so inspired to be like the kids the way they praised God. To be closer to God. Thanks again for a wonderful week with you.