I have been thinking lately about how to create and cultivate a culture of grace in our church. One particular thing that I was thinking about, that I wanted to explore further, concerns using teenagers during our Sunday morning worship service—and other “big” moments for the gathered church.
Teenagers, by way of their level of experience, are probably more prone to make key mistakes. That is not to insult teenagers, that is just a statement of truth. We learn from our mistakes, and teenagers have not had the opportunity to make a ton of mistakes—much less learn from them. So, why not give teenagers more opportunities to make really big mistakes? That would give an opportunity for the church to extend grace, as well as an opportunity for the teen to experience it.
Obviously we want to give teens the greatest chance for success. But that does not mean that we want to nurture them in such a way that we never give them opportunities for failure. We should be a community of grace that is able to lovingly use failure to further growth—growth for the “failure” and the one being “failed”.
What does this look like?
When the teenager makes a critical mistake we refuse to treat church like a business. Rather than getting mad because “a teenager shouldn’t be in such a position” we offer grace and maybe even merciful laughter. Instead of thinking “what if an unbeliever leaves because of the shoddy production” we ask questions like “what if an unbeliever stays only because of a glamorous production”.
Our goal is a community of messy grace instead of slick production. One way to create and cultivate that is by putting a teenager in a critical position.