Russell asked to write an article on student worship for

Small Youth Group: Student Worship

I’ll cut to the chase: No matter how many people show up, no matter how much money is in your budget, or even how talented you may be . . . worship starts in the heart!

“Sing and make music to the Lord with your hearts.” Eph. 5:18-19

Don’t get me wrong. All those other things help support the worship time, but they don’t necessarily fuel it. For leaders who have a small group, I would like to approach this topic in two ways: first,  by encouraging you to build a culture of worship in the hearts of your group, and second,  by helping you create opportunities for students to respond in worship.

Building a culture of Worship begins with you. Do your students see you worship? As I lead worship I always try to help paint a picture of what worship is . . . and what it’s not. Because of the way our churches are historically setup, most people think Sunday is the only time we worship. We call them, “Sunday Worship Services.” We need to help students understand that Worship is a lifestyle. More than the hour on Sunday or the Student ministry gathering, it has to be a perpetual theme in our daily lives. Giving students biblical insights to all the different ways we may worship is key. Music is just one aspect. There’s also prayer, thanksgiving, tithing, reading scripture, painting, communion, interpretive movement, serving, and more. From my experience, students are eager to know more about Worship and what it means. Everything we do should be an act of worship.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17

As you strive to build this Worship culture in your group there are some practical things that may help students respond:

In a more intimate worship setting, song selection is critical. Songs need to be singable. Don’t try and teach too many new songs at one time. People like to sing songs they know. You’ll soon see which tunes become your group’s favorites. Next, build your teaching times around a particular song and allow the students to sing the song at the end of the session with a new found understanding of what they are saying to God or about Him.

Allow your students to take ownership of the worship. Enlist students to pray, read scripture, or lead music.

Have your worship time in a completely different setting. Occasionally, change locations so it’s not always the same.

Give students a tangible way of responding in Worship (e.g., writing something down, laying something on the altar, bringing an offering, praying for each other). You can also encourage your group to come up with ways they can serve the community as an act of worship.

Ultimately, worship is to be our response to who God is and what He has done. Hopefully, we can all catch the vision of what Jesus was saying when He said that we should, “Worship in spirit and in truth.” John 4:24

Russell Johnson is a worship leader, singer, and song-writer. He and his wife Kristi lead worship across the United States and have just released their worship video, Arise. To find out more about Russell and his ministry, check out  Also, check out SYG’s site for more student ministry insights.

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