Each Sunday morning several preschool and young elementary aged students (and occasionally an adult) gather near the piano in worship to lead the congregation in song. The young musicians play the xylophone as the people sing, “Listen to the Word that God has spoken.” As the young people lead us in worship, they know that this is a place they belong. Sometimes there are so many young musicians who want to take this leadership role that the congregation must sing the song 2 or 3 times. And the adults wait patiently for mallets to change hands before we sing again – because the adults delight in people of God of all ages leading worship.
This beautiful tableau happens both by the power of the Spirit and by the careful programmatic coordination between the director of Faith Formation and the Director of Music Ministry. This song was taught and sung in Vacation Bible School – a set apart space for young people. Now the song is found in the main worship service of the congregation – and the children and their families know that they are not only welcomed, but valued members of community of faith. When they arrive for worship, there are many things that are for them, without singling them out or putting them up front on display.
Music connects us. Music moves us. Music helps us learn and remember. Music praises God. Camping ministers, how are you using music to help the youth in your care connect with congregations? Are there elements of camp worship that people will recognize (and build connections) from congregational worship? Are there elements of camp worship that the congregations can easily incorporate into their worship services that young people will recognize and feel at home.
At Sacred Playgrounds, we’ve been thinking a lot lately about connections and partnerships. We know that faith is built and nurtured in ecosystems of faith-filled spaces – home, congregation, and camp. These various ministry locations aren’t independent islands, but are an interconnected archipelago. Part of thriving ministry is building bridges between these ministry spaces. In the story above, music is a bridge – VBS, congregation, family – all singing the same songs.
We’re getting ready to launch the Rhythms of Faith Project next month to expand and strengthen the connections between home, congregation, and church.
How does your camp or outdoor ministry partner with congregations and families? What bridges are you building? What partnerships have you found particularly valuable from congregations, families and other ministries? We’d love to hear what’s working well or exciting you now.