I was casually asked, are you going to the main worship service? I stopped and said… I didn’t know there was a “main” one. It wasn’t until then that it became clear to me that some view this as I’m at a youth convention that allow the adults to come. To be honest, I am being greatly enriched by my experience, and humbled to speak to and meet so many amazing (adult) people. The adult convention I think can hold it’s own weight in worth and value to the church.

So, please forgive me as I stumble through expressing some of my observations around my first two worship experiences at Convention. Unfortunately I’m unable to attend the evening sessions because of family commitments, but the two morning services I’ve attended have been curious to me. Let me know if you’ve had similar observations as I.

My first was the adult morning worship service and the second, today’s, was an intergenerational, shared service at 9am. It is always interesting how entering each space has a completely different energy (as you might have witnessed)… youth rushing the seats as opposed to adults finding seats at a greater, safer distance from the front. That’s always carries some level of humor for me. At what point in our faith journey do we stop running up?

I’m the type that prefers the front for worship… less distractions and more ability to fully express my worship without concern of what others are doing or not doing. I could easily chose a location in the adult service with the only concern being that I wasn’t infringing on some delegate’s table. It was a bit uncomfortable because I didn’t know if I had permission to sit as I pleased.

Coming into the shared service, whereas before I felt uncomfortable not knowing if I could take a delegate table seat, here I didn’t know if seats where available! I thought for sure I’d be able to find ONE seat… one available near the front for me because well, I’m just one person. Time and time again, I was told no… the seat is taken. I suddenly realized that I was not one of them. It’s quite legitimate that they probably didn’t have seats, but the age difference became clear to me then. I’m not young anymore… I needed to go to the back where “my people,” the adults, go. It did hurt. I felt terrible. I felt uncomfortable, but I think that was what I was being asked to feel. I had believed that God was to be found up front… the first rows are the most holiest. That’s where God is. (Didn’t you know?) God clearly spoke to me and said, I’m back here, too. What a simple concept and difficult to accept. I sat embarrassed as well as rebellious a bit thinking I’d try again to ask up front. Seconds later, an acquaintance from the past arrived, and asked if she could sit next to me. I was sitting in the area of where her church found seats. That was my confirmation. God said, “it’s okay. I want you here. I’ve brought you a friend to encourage you and affirm who you are.”

From this new perspective I’m reluctant to say, I became less of a participant and more of an observer. I watched and compared what I saw to what I experienced the morning before with the adults. The contrast in worship was surprising to me. I experienced a greater diversity in song and style and leadership in the adult worship… songs that enriched me and drew me in on many different levels. Since diversity is valued, I imagine the goal was to bring people out of their Sunday morning comfort zone. In the shared service, the songs began with 2 hymns and in general were safer, softer, and more conservative with a single worship leader.

I’m sure there’s a lot behind the scenes and at play in all of this. I’m not writing as an insider to convention planning or knowledgeable in the decision-making process. In a lot of ways, we do have two separate conventions, and a sincere desire to bring it all together. This is hard work!

Now I need to take some of my own medicine… it’s not about the how… it’s about the who we worship as I said before! This is a stretch for all of us.

And tomorrow morning, I think I’ll stick with the adults. It’s time to accept it… I’m one of them after all!

Janet Treviño-Elizarraraz
Mennocon commentator