When FFC brought our youth director on board about 18 months ago, one of the things I and the elders really wanted him to focus on and emphasize greatly was the role of parents as the primary disciplers of our teens. Not to say that others don’t have a role; they do. But it should be a reflective role, not a replacement one; one where the “others” continually and biblically point teenagers to their main God-given authority – mom and dad.
Part of that equation is consistently highlighting and prioritizing the environment where families worship and learn together — the church service. Admittedly, and unfortunately, some teens assume that the weekly church-wide gathering isn’t really for them, so they unplug, whether it be physically or mentally. But accepting this as “normal” doesn’t move our teens towards their physical or spiritual family. Rather, confronting it and offering concrete ways to actually connect in the church service is a better idea. And that’s exactly what our youth director, Nathan Hiatt, did recently when he took some time to lay out these action points to our teens for getting the most out of the weekly church service.
Here are six “Nuggets from Nathan” that have helped our teens develop an appetite and action plan for maximum impact from the weekly church service.
1. Participate, don’t just spectate. This means, at the least, listening, writing, singing, and responding. Don’t focus on what others are or are not doing. Instead, set your sights on what God wants you to do.
2. Agree and understand that what they are saying is actually important. Don’t assume it doesn’t matter; rather, trust that it does, if not immediately, for sure eventually.
3. Look for a specific application for your sin or situation. Be sensitive to the Spirit as an active listener by inserting your name into the message regularly.
4. Expect to be taught by the Spirit, and prepare for it. Be in bed at a decent time (if you attend on a Sunday morning). Pray as you travel there. Read the Scripture for the coming message in advance.
5. Look for summaries and “handles.” No one can remember everything, but all of us can remember at least one thing, especially when that one thing is worded or pictured in a catchy and memorable manner. This is what we mean by a “handle.” So exercise your brain and commit to remembering at least one chunk of helpful information on a weekly basis.
6. Determine to act on what you hear in at least one way in the next six days. Just as we can’t remember everything, we can’t do everything either. But we can do something. So commit to at least one action as a result of what you hear week in and week out.
One last encouragement: hopefully your pastor(s) will provide you with some “stepping stones” each week by preparing messages with handles, creating ways for you to engage and participate, and by calling you to action. Having a team like this really helps when the players are in the huddle (i.e., at the church service) and when they leave to go play in the game (i.e., after the church service).
P.S. Nathan encourages parents and families to check out http://www.reformation21.org/articles/how-to-listen-to-a-sermon.php for more info on this subject.