Ralph, I think that this is a very great event you're planning on doing. The youth of our nation do need an awakening and they need to constantly dive deeper in their faith and knowledge in the Lord. First, I would like to start by encouraging you to saturate this situation in prayer. If you feel resistance from God, maybe you're meant to assist with the organization of this type of event rather than organizing it fully. But if you feel that God is giving you the green light, then plan and organize to the best of your ability, as that's exactly what God wants!
Working out things like this with your church can be pretty messy as I'm sure you have found out. I know that in my church, it would take forever to get this approved. However I beg the question, if you were to bring the youth to an event that is scheduled like you plan to have yours, would the church complain? Or are they having as big an issue with this as they are, because it's planned to be in the church itself? Either way, I would encourage you to look into expanding your contacts and look into connecting with other churches in your area. This could maximize attendance (and lives positively effected by the Holy Spirit) and it could create a closer bond between your church (or at least your youth group) and other churches. It would also mean that you might have other avenues to pull off some of the 'all out' aspects you seem to be planning on.
Personally, I have been to services that have had two full worship sets with a message between and I loved it. They also included communion for those who needed to take it and I thought that was a nice touch as well. They had the moving graphics behind the words and stage lights and all, and I assume this is the kind of thing you're going for. The only thing to be careful about is that it doesn't turn into more of a performance than actual heart-filled worship.
I have seen a few of the moving image presentations in regards to displaying the words to sing during worship. There are a few different programs you can use to do this. But the main thing you need to look at is the type of computer you are using. Personally, our church uses Macs which perform really well, but don't support many of the software created. You see, most of these programs are created by Christian 'garage' companies who respond to a need, so the software is usually unidirectional as it's geared towards one function and they are mostly PC-based. That said, some of the highly-rated softwares are EasyWorship, MediaShout, and SongShowPlus. I've also seen video presentations for the lyrics and as they take a lot more time to synchronize, they look great as well. Most media people would use Adobe AfterEffects to create these videos and the drawback is that they have to be right on time, playing the same tempo every time and if the Holy Spirit is leading to sing a chorus again or a verse again, this doesn't allow the opportunity to do this. Basically, it looks cooler, but takes away from what worship should offer in my opinion. I hope this all helps and will pray that your endeavors turn out they way God wants!
I think thats a great idea... I dont think you should worry about the "old school" mentality, i think young people are yearning after something new and fresh. and i think that having extended worship times would be awesome!. I have a friend, his name is Sean Feucht. he has a ministry called Burn 247, and basically they go around and do "events" all over the world, and just worship, sometimes non stop for up to 48 hours... they have different worship leaders scheduled and they attract all kinds of people that just want to worship and the amount of Non christians that they get turning up and getting saved from feeling an incredible presence of God is crazy!! so id encourage you to just go after Gods presence, coz i think that is what people are going to stick around for!!
A few thoughts, I'll let others provide encouragement:
- a big part of whether people will be willing to "sit through a sermon" to hear more worship music will depend on how good the worship band / worship time is before the sermon.
- it will also depend a lot on how interesting the preaching is, and since you're aiming this at youth, how interesting it is to the youth. And how long it is. If you can hold the preaching to 15-20 minutes, then you can present it as "the band is going to take a little break, we'd like to introduce Joe Schmoe, who's got a few things to say..." If it's going to be a 45-minute sermon, then, yeah, it's going to feel like "am I willing to sit through 45 minutes of this guy's preaching to hear more of this worship band?"
- also, have you thought about / researched WHY the youth in your area are just "playing church?" It's hard to imagine that there aren't some churches in the NY/NJ area that aren't offering some pretty good worship music and youth-oriented preaching... are the youth in those churches just playing church? If they are, then one would suspect that lively music and good preaching at your event aren't going to change that. Just something to think about: are you maybe looking at your own church and projecting your own youth group onto the area in general, and is this something you're doing in hopes of livening up the youth of your own church? Are the youth of your own church willing to help put this on?
- you talk about "diving into the presence of God... before and after a message..." If the kids you're aiming this at are "just playing church," why will they behave differently at your event? If you're living in a part of the world where the churches are predominantly stuffy, old fashioned, and boring, then, yeah, put on an event like this to show the youth (and the churches) what worship can be. Honestly, though, I'm not sure the NY/NJ area doesn't already offer
You didn't say you are doing this in the context of your own church, but some of the responses seem to have assumed that. It's not that you're battling with conservative people at your own church, it's your own conservative side. Can you tell us a little more about your logistics? Is this going to take place at your own church or offsite?
As far as the moving backgrounds, our church uses media shout, and we have the moving background behind the projections, and they're just moving backgrounds, so if the band decides to do an extra chorus or six of some song, it doesn't mess up the moving background - the words are "on top of" whatever background you choose. The background and the lyrics are totally independent. The free Song Show software would probably even handle this, as long as the computer you're using is powerful enough.
Anyway... good luck if you decide to go ahead with this, but I'd suggest really thinking about why you're doing it and whether what you're thinking of doing is different enough from what kids get in their own churches week to week to cause them to respond more enthusiastically.
There's a long history of preachers coming into an area and holding a "revival" with the intent of firing up the Christians - even of individual churches bringing in a speaker or musician to have their own revival. At the church we work with in Agua Prieta Mexico, they start each year with a 15-day "first fruits" event, where they have church every evening for the first 15 days of the year. Folks on our mission team were kinda looking at each other going, "well, I don't think this would work at our church, but if it works here, great." Try to be thinking about what's going to happen even if you do get the NY/NJ youth "fired up." Are they going to be able to take this back to their own churches, or are they just going to be waiting for your next event?
Like I said, just some things to think about, I don't mean to be discouraging, but I've seen people try this sort of thing before...
Good points, Charles.
You've got to ask the question: what are the needs that aren't being met? If we've made church something that kids have to go to, well they're going to go to it but it'll be because they have to.
If we make it that it meets a deep need in them, then they'll engage and want to return.
Now it could be that the need of the kids is to get into a deep space of worship with the Lord. If that's the case then how do you set up the worship time so the kids can enter in. Number one thing I do is break down the concert layout. Get them out of the pews. Have them sit on the stage in a big group if you have to, but don't let them feel like they're an audience and you're the show.
My personal bitter-old-man bias says sermons are more often useless than they are helpful. I'd say one main reason behind that is people don't know what kind of response they're looking for. They only know what message they want to give (and often don't even know that). If you're looking for the response of kids engaging in the faith but you make them sit down, shut up and listen to a sermon, you're giving them a mixed message. What would be more effective is having a dialogue. Again getting them out of pews will break the audience-speaker mentality, and sitting when you preach will help them feel like you're offering something to them so they can respond. Asking questions and giving space for responses, discussion and dialogue can help, but if you have 1000 people then that might be tough. In that case I would give a very short talk, break them into discussion teams, ask them what they think, and get them to pray through it... or something.
Or you could just ask them in that big setting "do you feel your faith is just a fascade? why?" Let them give the answers to the big group and then deal with those. Youth are people who are used to being told what to do by everyone. They go to school and are told to be quiet while people they don't like tell them stuff they don't want to know, and it's rare that anyone will ask them their opinion. So if they need to be heard, meet that need and it'll really help.
Now as to the style of music... believe it or not it doesn't matter. I've seen some kids really engage in the old hymns and traditional anglican liturgies before... mainly because they were saturated with the new form of church. What matters isn't so much whether it's new wine or old wine (so to speak) but more, do they feel loved, heard and cared for?
Where I'm at (Montreal) there aren't many Christians at all and the need for community is very high. I'm not sure if it's the same down there or not. With this group there's a strong need to be part of a group that's really theirs, that they can own and get prayer in and worship in and feel loved in.
Finally, if you want a big crowd, make food happen.