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Leading Youth

Chris Quilala

01:01:05

Chris Quilala, Mari Helart, Josie Buchanan, and Peyton Allen talk about the hunger in youth to encounter God and be fathered well, and give advice on how to lead a younger generation.

Introductions

  • Chris Quilala 
    Jesus Culture has been going for 20 years, but it started at Bethel. “We had a youth ministry, and we were just figuring it out as we were going along, but we knew people were being encountered in worship. When Banning Liebscher came, the focus shifted and we started asking, ‘What is the lasting impact we are having on this youth? Are we actually challenging them to go deep and have a personal relationship with Jesus?’” 
  • Mari Helart
    “I am the youth worship pastor. There are so many kids who are not seen, that have really done something beautiful in our youth movement, and I get to be a part of their journey.”
  • Josie Buchanan
    I am 15. I’ve been on the Bethel Worship team for under two years. I’ve been singing and playing music for as long as I can remember but I started dance when I first came to Bethel Worship school in 4th grade.” Our choreographer reached out to me to do a kid’s project. From there on I became family with everyone who was doing the kid’s project.
  • Peyton Allen
    We moved here seven or eight years ago for Bethel. I joined BCS here in middle school. One year we did a talent show, and my parents recorded it, and a lot of people at Bethel Music saw it. They decided to make Bethel Music Kids Album and I got to be on the album. I started leading worship about two years ago.

What do you feel like God is saying or doing over young people right now?

  • Chris Quilala
    “Something that I think we saw is that youth are really hungry for something real. Sometimes we may do a disservice by thinking they aren’t ready to encounter God in a real way. So we try to fill space with games, but I think what we realized is they’re ready. I encountered The Lord when I was 14, and it changed my life forever. They’re hungry for something real. The focus is the Presence of God, and if you make that your number one priority, you’ll see these kids lives change forever. Banning was someone in my life who was a spiritual father in my life, and I hung out with him every day for almost a year. Sometimes youth you can never tell what’s going on, because they put on a front, but they are so hungry for connection and for someone to see them. A lot of the stuff I’m doing now I didn’t see in myself, and he said ‘Hey you’re called to be a leader.’ I see so much hope and desire for an encounter with something that’s real. You never know the impact you can have on someone, negative or positive.”
  • Mari Helart
    “There’s no junior Holy Spirit. We don’t need to keep it shallow to keep everyone comfortable. Kids can actually encounter God in a deep way. They’re not always what you hear on the media, that they are disengaged and always want to check out. Maybe they are because no one has told them they could be different. I had to be called out, and someone had to believe in me before I could do it. It’s really important that we become mothers and fathers. Don’t create an orphan worship culture where people are fighting for others to see their gift. God is saying to me ‘You’re a mother, it’s not about you. Raise up other people and I will take care of you.’ It’s important that we believe in them. You don’t have to be the coolest person, but if I just talk to someone consistently and you get o know them, that means so much more to them than anything else. They will become so much more than they think they can be because you believed in them.” 
  • Peyton Allen
    “One thing I’ve seen that’s important in our youth group is having a relationship with God. It is so important, because you can have an amazing youth worship, an amazing sermon, and amazing people pouring into our lives, but if you don’t have a relationship with God nothing else matters. I’ve been seeing that happen with kids in our youth group where they are having crazy encounters because they’re chasing after God.”

What captured you about the Presence of God?

  • Josie Buchanan
    “As a youth, you have to want it. It can’t be soemthing that a youth pastor is pushing you into. When your are encouraged by youth leaders is the most important part because when you’re encouraged and empowered by them, you are shown The Father’s heart and what is accessible for you to have. It’s something that you can see and now you get to go after.”
  • Peyton Allen
    What was really impactful for me was seeing a leader’s passion. They dont even have to try they are just so excited to express what God has done in their life. It’s cool to have youth group that has fun stuff and plays cool music, but I think it’s more important to show passion. I think ive been more inspired from Tom Crandall yelling at the top of his lungs, and he will be crying because he can’t even explain how much God loves him.

How do we get young people to engage in worship?

  • Mari Helart
    “Practically it’s really important as a worship leader that you’re not just singing a song, but you are leading the room and knowing when the room is with you and when they’re not. If you’re the head of the train and no one is connected you’re just taking a ride. You want to make sure the room is connected to you and ways to do that is valuing the people you lead. They know who I am because I‘m there every week and they know they can trust me. I can do some crazy things but I think the majority know I love them. It’s okay to coach kids. Sometimes they honestly just don’t know what to do, and I think it’s okay to tell them to raise their hands and encourage them. Don’t become controlling, but actually pastor the room. I like to mix it up and get creative because if we are doing the same thing over and over they get bored. Its encouraging to say ‘You have permission to do this, come do it with me.’”

How do you start a youth worship team?

  • Chris Quilala
    Find the kids that God is highlighting. They aren’t going to be ready. We all had to be developed. When we started, it was terrible, but the Lord showed up. Find those people who are teachable and pour into them. Those are the ones that are going to be faithful and contagious. They’re going to be so passionate it’s going to be contagious. Find those that can be developed. 

How do you develop excellence?

  • Josie Buchanan
    “Just knowing who I am and not putting things to waste. I know I have a gift and I’m confident in what I’ve been given. If i didn’t know what I had, I wouldn’t care. I know that’s where my calling is, so that’s what I’m going to go after. I want to do everything I can do the best that I can.“
  • Peyton Allen
    “When I led for the first time, I was terrified. I had to learn how to be able to do technical things. Let your kids learn how to just feel comfortable where they’re at. Once I became comfortable with the band and how to do things, then I became more comfortable in worship. Kids can be afraid to ask questions, so have them ask questions and mentor them.”
  • Mari Helart
    “I created a local teenage band for the ones that maybe aren’t ready for the stage yet. We just get together and pick two easy songs with four chords and just play. I create space for them to mess up and it’s not always pretty. I develop them in a low stakes place before I ever put them on a high stakes place, because if I put them on a high stakes place and they fail, it will crumble them. We meet once a month and trying to go to twice a month. I’ll bring in different people every week and have them give advice.”

How would you incorporate pastoring your youth when you don’t have a youth service?

  • Chris Quilala 
    “I wouldn’t try to change it but be aware of who’s in the room. Meet people where they’re at. It might take more coaching to engage people and pull them in.” 
  • Mari Helart
    “Pick different songs, like fun songs. Change the energy level. Kids like having fun songs. Maybe just change the first two songs. Think about what kids can digest lyrically, is this going to actually resonate in a teenager’s heart?”

How do you capture the heart of unchurched kids?

  • Chris Quilala 
    “Be aware of who is in the room. We assume that everybody knows what we are talking about. There’s actually a lot of people that come that may have gotten invited by a friend. Some people get saved at a night of worship. Be real and think about what you’re saying. We use a lot of Christianese fillers instead of being honest. Really thinking about what God wants to say to the room.”

What do you do when kids are on the their cell phones during worship?

  • Tom Crandall
    He asked Danny Silk how to get kids off of their cell phones. Danny said, “It’s hard to get the kids off of their cell phones, when all the senior leaders are doing it.”
    “You can influence and inspire but we can’t control them. If the kid is not pulling away from the atmosphere, I come up and love on him and tell him it’s so great he’s there. If their actions are pulling away from the atmosphere then we say, ‘We love you, but when you’re acting like that you are disrupting the room.’ As a father though, I feel like I have the authority to confront things from the microphone in a way that’s not condemning but inviting them into a deeper reality.”

Who is your biggest hero and why?

  • Peyton Allen
    My dad. He works at Bethel Music, and anytime I talk to someone who knows him, they all shift and say, ‘I love your dad.’ And I know first hand how much he loves on everyone he meets. He’s an amazing leader, and I really look up to him.
  • Josie Buchanan
    Both my parents have created a home environment. We have people over every single day, and they’ve done such a great job at making our house feel like a home. They do a great job at loving everyone who comes into their lives.
  • Mari Helart
    Leslie Crandall is the ultimate example of a powerful woman of God. She just trained me up by letting me come over to her house, and pouring into me. 
  • Chris Quilala 
    My parents are my heroes as well. If you knew the story of my dad, and where he is now, and the impact he’s had on our lives, it’s really inspiring.