Cultivating A Culture Of Worship

Man on stage with an acoustic guitar leading worship at church

When was the last time you went to a concert?

If you’re me, it’s been a while. I just don’t value the experience enough for the financial and time investment required. But I can recall going to enough concerts in my lifetime to know that the energy at a good music concert is infectious. When everybody knows the words to every song and sings and dances with reckless abandon, it’s a pretty incredible experience.

I would imagine most of us want that kind of environment in our youth ministries during worship time. And, unfortunately, I would imagine a lot of us are pretty far from that ideal (my own ministry included). So I want to state up front that I don’t have this completely figured out. If you walked into my youth ministry environment on a Sunday morning, you’d see a lot of teenagers staring emotionless up at the screen or maybe the cute girl that sings on stage. But even so, it’s my belief that a gospel lens can cue us on just about anything, so I want to turn our attention to the gospel and see if we all can’t pick up a helpful lens through which to see student worship ministry.

See, the gospel is transformational—not just inspirational. A lot of us tend to look at specific areas like the culture of worship at our youth group, and we want to hyperfocus on that area and find every human tip and trick to improving that area of ministry (we do this in our own personal lives too, don’t we?). But the gospel isn’t a matter of gritting our teeth and building ourselves up through tips, tricks, and strategies, one area at a time. The gospel is most powerfully at work within us when we fix our eyes on Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to do the rest.

So with that in mind, let me turn your attention away from the glazed-over students mumbling lyrics in your student space, and give you a question to fix your eyes on instead:

Have you taught the gospel in such a way that your students can connect personally with worship lyrics?

Worship is the overflow of personal connection. We connect with God in worship not because the tech team has finally configured the lights just right, but because what we’re singing is personal and true for us. This is, after all, why people are all in at a T-Swift concert. Whether you like her as an artist or not, it is generally the case that Swifties feel a deep connection with Taylor Swift, so singing loudly and proudly at her concerts feels like a no brainer.

The God of the universe is personal. The gospel is personal. The story of Jesus intersects with our individual stories in a million different ways. But it’s possible your students don’t know that yet. So are you teaching them the gospel in a way that’s personal?

If you’re using G Shades curriculum, you’re starting to. And if you haven’t started using our stuff yet, you should. Because while I can’t promise equipping your students with a gospel lens is going to turn your youth ministry into a weekly Maverick City music video, I can promise you that your students will connect through worship on a deeper level when they understand how deeply personal and transformative the gospel is.

Mike Haynes is a full-time youth pastor and the creator of G Shades Youth Ministry Curriculum. Feel free to reach out to Mike anytime over email at
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