by Kari Aanestad, M.Div. '12
Nearly 300 metro youth gathered at Augsburg College's Hoversten Chapel on Jan. 29 to attend All Metro Praise, a new worship experience pioneered by Luther Seminary students David Scherer, Master of Arts junior and Anthony Fair, Master of Divinity intern.
"Urban, suburban and rural were all there," Scherer said. "It was a glimpse of the kingdom of God right before our eyes."
So far Scherer and Fair have worked with more than 30 different church organizations and local ministries to plan and lead three AMP worship services, which have served more than 600 area youth.
"What we are really trying to do is help leaders train other leaders," Fair said. "We provide the framework for worship and then delegate those pieces to different congregations in the area. Different youth groups prepare the different parts of the service, so, for one example, a group may be in charge of the invocation. In planning they'll get to talk about what an invocation is and why it is included in a worship service. So they're not just leading worship; they're also learning about what worship is and why we do it."
AMP not only trains and educates youth in church leadership, but also builds a larger sense of community among different area churches. "AMP is a vibrant worship experience designed to connect youth from across the metro area to God and each other," Scherer said. "For a youth group with just a few members in it, it can feel like you are all alone. AMP gives the feeling of a critical mass so that young people can really experience corporate worship with other youth groups like theirs."
Scherer, also known as Christian rapper AGAPE, has been a pioneer of relational youth ministry for more than a decade through his Hip-Hop Outreach program, which combines rapping, dancing and storytelling for a unique presentation of the gospel.
Scherer and Fair first explored the idea for AMP last August after identifying what Scherer describes as a "dearth of networking for churches and a dynamic worship experience for teenagers." The two Luther students pulled a team of local church and ministry leaders together to dream, plan and pool resources for a worship experience that features the talents and voices of youth from across the metro area.
"Because we involve so many people in worship planning and leading, every month is such a different experience and different expression of the Word," Fair said. "We have new leaders every month, and so we really get as much diversity as possible."
Though it is a newer enterprise, AMP is already both bright and promising. "My not-so-secret hope is that AMP might also become a place of outreach for churches," Scherer said.
"We are also trying to find ways to invite Luther Seminary students to be a part of the service and plug in where they can."
Tim Coltvet, coordinator for contextual learning and coaching for the Children, Youth and Family program, is currently in conversation with Scherer and Fair about the possibility of AMP serving as an internship or contextual
learning site for Luther Seminary students.
"We have kids coming to AMP who never even come to church," Fair said. "There are some really exciting possibilities here."
AMP services are held the last Sunday of every month at Augsburg College's Hoversten Chapel. Each service begins with an hour of worship from 5:30-6:30 p.m. and ends with a half-hour open mic. For more information, search for All Metro Praise on Facebook.