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Learning About Worship

Sharon Veltema on why understanding how and why we worship is fundamental when planning worship, especially with young people.

An understanding of how and why we worship is essential when planning worship with young people. There are many resources that can assist youth leaders and chapel coordinators. But those who work with young people also recognize the challenge of finding resources that are easily adaptable to their leadership or youth group—resources that will fit into the limited time they have with their teens. The discussion pages provided in this article are a way to teach teens about worship. These pages provide information about worship, along with questions to facilitate discussion among the group. Many of these discussion pages have been adapted from the worship apprentice program at Calvin College. Leaders may use one page each meeting, or go through several pages at once. The pages start with questions regarding spiritual leadership and move into discussions about worship. These discussion pages encourage teens to think and talk about worship—in the church as well as in their youth group or school.

It may be a good idea to have young people write out their responses to the questions first and then share their responses. This is often helpful in groups where members are hesitant to share ideas or insights. The leader should also be willing to write answers and share insights with the group.

Another teaching resource is entitled “Sunday Morning Live” (Vogel, Jane and Mary Sytsma. Sunday Morning Live: How and Why We Worship, CRC Publications, 2003). This curriculum outlines the basic patterns of communal worship and provides activities that focus on the different aspects of worship. This resource is helpful for leaders who have more time to spend with their teens. Both the discussion sheets and the “Sunday Morning Live” curriculum provide excellent worship learning opportunities for young people.

Read the Discussion Guide (PDF)

In Summary

  1. Understanding how and why we worship is fundamental when planning worship.
  2. Everybody worships someone or something, so we need to understand that what we value and find worthy is what we will worship.
  3. Worship occurs in the corporate setting as well as in the everyday experiences of our lives.
  4. Biblical worship refers to more than singing songs with biblical reference or scripture reading. The yearly worship patterns, worship directed towards God, and our focus on Jesus Christ all represent biblical worship.
  5. Communication is a key element of worship, and healthy speech is vital to having balanced worship.
  6. Worship is covenantal, participative, holistic, expansive, reverent, Spirit-directed, and expectant. 

Related Publications

Discerning The Spirits: A Guide To Thinking About Christian Worship Today (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2003) Cornelius Plantinga Jr. and Sue A. Rozeboom

Discipleship Year 2 - Worship  (Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2008) Ron Rienstra  

Sunday Morning Live: How and Why We Worship (Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2003) Jane Vogel and Mary Sytsma

The Air I Breathe: Worship As A Way Of Life (Multnomah Books, 2003) Louie Giglio

Many of the ideas found in the discussion pages come directly from the Worship Apprentice program at Calvin College and the writings of Paul Ryan, Associate Chaplain for Worship at Calvin College.

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