In a world where teenagers and young adults are bombarded with countless sources of entertainment and distraction, one might assume that traditional forms of spirituality, like praise and worship, would struggle to find their footing. Surprisingly, the opposite is true. Praise and worship gatherings have become increasingly popular among today’s youth, reflecting a vibrant trend that’s capturing the hearts and minds of a new generation.
This shift is not without reason. I explored Hillsong and contemporary churches more with two brothers, Hilton Lewis (23) and Daniel Lewis (21), who are very big on praise and worship. Hilton is a drummer in his church, and Daniel plays the keyboard and is the worship leader in charge of the music and singers. Hilton and Daniel really emphasised that being part of the church and participating in praise and worship gives them a sense of community and belonging.
Hilton said praise and worship are an important part of fellowshipping with the rest of the church as it’s an act done in unity and something you share.
Daniel shared that praise and worship, to him, are a space and opportunity to glorify God. It’s also a form of expressing his gratitude to God.
In such a fast-paced world, young people feel isolated and disconnected. Praise and worship gatherings can offer an inclusive environment where teens and young adults can unite, share their experiences, and forge lasting connections. This sense of community, camaraderie, and belonging appeals to many seeking solace and connection.
For many young people, traditional religious practices can feel outdated or disconnected from their personal experiences. Praise and worship, on the other hand, offer a modern and dynamic approach to spirituality. Hilton and Daniel describe how this fresh take on faith enables them to explore their spiritual side genuinely and relevantly.
Hilton expressed, “It (Technology) helps with the accessibility of listening to worship music. It has also helped with popularity and worship music becoming so widely distributed. Technology in the church has definitely played its part by enhancing the experience of worship with lights, visuals and sound, not forgetting lyrics for these songs.”
Daniel shared, “The influence of technology and media has, in a sense, complicated praise and worship and simplified it at the same time. Complicate it because people now depend on the technology within church more than they previously did. If it’s loadshedding then you can’t have praise and worship due to the instruments not going on or there’s no mic for the preacher. However, it has simplified praise and worship by extending it to certain social media platforms.”
To really attract the youth to the church, churches such as Hillsong have incorporated music with bands, created social media accounts, and have involved the youth in the services, even having them perform duties on a weekly basis – this has really drawn the youth. The duties include things like setting up sound, being part of the band or even preparing coordinated meet-ups for the youth.
When asked what attracted him to his current church, Hilton said, “I’m drawn to it because it still has traditional aspects and doctrines, but it allows for freedom and individual and collective expression of ideas and does not discriminate.”
Daniel said, “Honestly, my family and duty to the church. I play an important role within my church as well as the worship team.”
The dark side of the church
Even though the church is supposed to be “good”, there are some dark sides to the church, where some leaders abuse their power. This can take the form of putting pressure on church members to volunteer for tasks they do not want to do, and making people feel that they are letting God and the church down if they don’t do it.
There has also been more serious power abuses in various churches, such as corruption, sexual misconduct, and affairs. It’s important that the church you attend is transparent that you know where your money is going, and that the church leaders have integrity and are accountable to their members.
Many churches have moved with the times. They are successfully competing with other influences to establish praise and worship as an important part of young people’s lives, offering community and a deeper sense of belonging.
Tell us: What does praise and worship mean to you?
Read more here about how one person lost their religion.