I was looking for some music on YouTube and randomly came across this group known as ThePianoGuys. The song that popped up was “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction. The little thumbnail image that accompanies the video shows 5 guys huddled around this grand piano playing and plucking and strumming and beating the inside of it. I clicked on it and the music was mesmerizing – at least to this piano player –so I thought I’d check out a few of the other pieces posted.
One was called “Beethoven’s 5 Secrets,” a cover of OneRepublic’s, “Secrets”. Click. A soloist, one of the five PianoGuys, begins a cello solo. The solo morphs into a soloist with orchestral accompaniment. It is a very good orchestra . . . a VERY good orchestra . . . and as I watch closer, I observe the players are teenagers, teenagers with incredible skills. Turns out they are the American Heritage Lyceum Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.
It’s interesting to watch these teens playing. First, you quickly notice that they have the music memorized. Every once in a while you catch a smile as if they just conquered a difficult passage or just had this thought about the amazing music they are making. The video quotes Beethoven who once said, “Don’t only practice your art but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise you to the divine.” I was reminded how the backbone of so many church brass choirs are teenagers playing their hearts out.
Youth ministry can play a vital part in the revitalization in the life of a congregation. Mark Cannister, Christian ministries professor at Gordon College, Boston, has written a new book Teenagers Matter: Making Student Ministry a Priority in the Church (Baker Academic Books). The very first paragraph of the preface makes the case for youth ministry:
Teenagers matter! When teenagers matter, the church comes alive! Teenagers bring life and vitality to nearly every sector of society when they are valued. Have you ever been in a nursing home when a group of teenagers arrive to sing Christmas carols to the residents? The place comes alive. Have you ever witnessed teenagers playing with children in an orphanage? The place comes alive. Have you participated in a Youth Sunday when teenagers lead the whole congregation in worship? The church comes alive! When they feel valued, young people bring an innate vitality to every setting.
Teenagers are amazing. I thank God for the children, youth and young adults who are a part of our congregations. I pray for their spiritual growth. They do matter and I pray that congregations look for ways to build bridges across generations, and that we get to know and celebrate each other. I pray for young people without spiritual moorings. How can we reach the un-churched and marginally-churched young people? This last question is a very big deal. How do we share Jesus with young people who don’t have a clue about him?
So . . . I recommend ThePianoGuys.com. “Beethoven’s 5 Secrets” is outstanding. And check out Mark Cannister’s book. He does a good job opening youth ministry secrets – to draw a reference to Beethoven.
Finally, love the teens you live with or work with or worship with. Get to know young people who don’t know Jesus. They are all wonderful gifts from God.