Many people have come to me since yesterday's worship services to say how impressed they are with the youth's leadership. They have lauded the obvious preparation, the poise, and the depth offered. One compliment that stood out to me was, "Their leadership restored my hope in our future."
We could give the remainder of this email to naming individuals who did well in leading us yesterday (and those who helped them prepare). Instead, I'd like to focus on one contributing factor - participation.
When children "play school" or "play church" they model what they've seen. We had access to my grandparents' little church when I was growing up and we'd "play church," which meant someone would read scripture and someone (usually I) would stand behind the pulpit and read and talk. My sisters and cousins would sit and listen or stand and sing. We went through the motions of what we'd observed and practiced.
The youth were certainly not "playing church" yesterday - it was excellent worship led well. They were able to lead well because 1.) most have participated in it for years and 2.) they built upon a foundation of experience and added particular training related to whatever they were to lead.
I can tell you from recent experience that it's more difficult to go from very limited experience to public performance than from extensive experience. My dance partner has 12 years of constant dancing so, though she'd never danced the samba before, when it was suggested she instantly had the step down. I am taking a lot longer to master the step.
Following Jesus well does not happen overnight. It is something that improves over time. Observing others is critical, practicing is necessary, and doing it in front of others is important. Being part of a worshiping, learning, serving, supportive community of faith is vital.
I'm grateful our youth are growing and leading in such an environment - the fruit of the time invested was evident yesterday.
And, whatever fruit of my time invested in this Dancing For Our Future Stars event will be on display this week. Since it's for The School Foundation, I'll invite you to watch Katelyn's and my preview dance this Wednesday at 6 PM in The Davis Center. Be on time; it's only a 90-second dance.
You can cast your vote for Team Malambri anytime ($10/vote) at http://www.dancingforourfuturestarsofflorence.com/dancer-voting. If you're unfamiliar with the good The School Foundation does, learn more at http://www.theschoolfoundation.org/ (their investment in our schools is why I'm willing to dance on stage).
Also, don't forget Wednesday's Lenten recital (12:30 in the sanctuary). Director of Choral Activities at Francis Marion University, Dr. Paul Thompson, is a tenor who has toured extensively in the US.