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Youth worship service rocks

10/3/2003 News media contact: Kathy Gilbert · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn.

This report is a sidebar to story #469. Photographs are available.

A UMNS-UMC.org Report By Kathy L. Gilbert*

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
Kevin Jeanes (left) and Matt Franklin rehearse for Crave, a youth-led worship service that is open to young people from around northern Virginia. The monthly service, held at Fairfax Station Christ United Methodist Church, typically draws 100 to 300 youth. A UMNS photo by Jay Mallin. Photo number 03-320, Accompanies UMNS #472, 10/1/03


LINK: Click to open full size version of image
Brandon Child is director of power point ministries for Crave. “Where else can you stand up on the chairs in church and praise the Lord?” he asks. A UMNS photo by Jay Mallin. Photo number 03-321, Accompanies UMNS #472, 10/1/03
FAIRFAX STATION, Va. (UMNS) - First they climb up on chairs and cover the huge window in the sanctuary with black garbage bags.

Next they put away the flowers and plants around the altar and install large highway traffic signs.

Then come the candles. Lots and lots of candles.

Hot guitar licks and pulsating drum rolls spill out of the sanctuary while an anxious crowd mills around waiting for the doors to open. The band is warming up, and an intense young man in a white baseball hat belts out: "God is bigger than the air I breathe; God will save the day."

It is the first Sunday night of the month, and it is time for Crave.

Crave is a youth-led, youth-planned worship service that is open to young people from all over northern Virginia. It began at Fairfax Station Christ United Methodist Church two years ago.

"Where else can you stand up on the chairs in church and praise the Lord," asks a grinning Brandon Child, director of power point ministries for Crave.

Crave usually draws 100 to 300 youth from three districts, says youth director Taylor Gaddy.

Gaddy is the "adult" presence during Crave, but he is the first to point out he is not in charge, it is not his service.

"If we tell him something needs to go or be changed, he listens," says Sara Massei, a member of the Crave team. "It is our event, and he knows we know what everyone else our age is going to like."

"He is there to help us, but he lets us make the decisions," agrees Patrick Mutchler.

"We are going to have to expand the church just for Crave services," Child says. "We have more people coming to Crave than the church has on Easter!"

Crave is an example of a successful youth program that has received funding from the denomination's Shared Mission Focus on Young People initiative. The church's General Conference adopted the initiative in 1996 with the charge of "re-ordering the priorities of the United Methodist Church to better respond to the joys and pains of young people."

The initiative provides grants for projects that address the needs of young people, particularly in ways that can have a broader impact in the church.

"Crave has really taken off with the youth in the area," says Ciona Rouse, director of the initiative. "It is a worship experience that seems to be a good model for other churches to reach youth."

More information on grants is available at http://www.idreamachurch.com/grants.asp.

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