Published on January 18, 2016 by Eric Mathis  
As of late, I’ve spent quite a bit of time watching the ways teenagers engage (or fail to engage) worship in the church. Some of the work has been formal, some informal, but I’ve made a few observations along the way.

So, in this very first blog post, I offer 10 Observations on Teenagers and Worship. Here’s the list, in no particular order.

1. Worship gatherings that teenagers participate in are the product of adult planning and leadership. Adults, we bear a significant responsibility here.

2. Many teenagers participate regularly in intergenerational worship, but an equal number of teenagers experience generationally segregated worship practices. Recent studies have a lot to say about this one.

3. Most teenagers have always lived in (and are learning to navigate) a pluralistic liturgical landscape. Most do not possess the prejudices of adults who lived through the worship wars.

4. Between the ages of 12 to 18, teenagers encounter many different types of worship practices. These come through the local congregation, denomination, and youth retreats, conferences, and camps.

5. Relativism is a prevailing sentiment among teenagers where worship styles are concerned. Teens don’t want their worship to be judged, nor do they want to judge the worship of others.

6. Emotions are an undeniably important component of spiritual formation for teenagers, especially where worship is concerned. And, the capital-C Church has a lot to learn.

7. Teenagers want worship to be focused on the right things. Those items that make us love, desire, and want the right thing – God, the Church, and the World.

8. Teenagers need to experience a sense of belonging in worship. This must be reinforced so that teenagers are drawn into full, active, conscious participation.

9. “Youth Sunday” is a common practice among congregations of all shapes and sizes. Are there other possibilities for the church to explore?

10. Teenagers express a curiosity about worship and some even like the idea of planning or leading it. That said, they need guidance and confidence from adult mentors.

Many more things could be said about these ten observations. So, I’ll be unpacking each one in individual blog posts throughout the Spring.

For now, I’m curious: what are your observations?