I had to give my 45 minute workshop 6 times between noon and 6pm. I had anywhere from 5 to 35 kids in each group. The point of the workshop was to teach the kids all a song, which they would then "perform" en masse at the end of the day, in sort of a big youth choir of over 150 kids. But because it doesn't take 45 minutes to teach a song, it also meant that I had some time to fill with speaking as well.
My preparation was somewhat different than I usually would do. Most times I write out everything I want to say, and then memorize that script. This time, however, I didn't have the time to do that. So I prepared myself instead. I read about my topic, thought about it, jotted down notes here and there, and saturated myself in the ideas that came to me about this song. Then I just got up there and spoke. Each workshop was slightly different, but each one covered the same points.
In teaching the song, I opted to do a different arrangement of a familiar hymn. This way the kids weren't having to learn new words and music, just how to put it into a new setting. And I also edited together a video about the life of Christ that illustrated the song. So when the kids sang and the video played, it was sort of like a live music video.
I thought the workshops themselves went well. Some went better than others. Some kids really responded, others seemed more stoic or distracted. That doesn't bother me - I know when I'm dealing with teens, there will be some kids you just can't get to. You have to keep in mind with teens that it's about the few you do get to.
But the amazing part of the whole day was the final choir part. Because there were so many kids, they sang from the congregation pews. I stood in front and led them as chorister, just as we had practiced throughout the day. A few of the leaders who hadn't seen my workshop cried as the video and the music combined to make a very powerful effect. But then, when the fourth verse started, a few of the kids toward the back stood up while singing. Then a few more, then a few more, and before long the entire congregation were on their feet, singing "I Know That My Redeemer Lives." That's when I let a few tears go, in front of everyone. The counselor in the Stake Presidency (the area leader for the church) was going through a Kleenex box. Many of the teens in the congregation also started to cry from the spiritual emotion in the air. There was a moment of silence when the song finished, as everyone just let it hang there.
Every once in a while you are part of a moment that will stay with you for a long time. The last time I remember something like this was a presentation I gave on the Holocaust in grade 11, more than 15 years ago. You never forget that feeling at the end. How grateful I am to have been part of something so impacting for so many. And how grateful I am that I didn't get in the way of the Spirit in over preparing or trying to script this workshop. Truly, I was just a vehicle for a message from heaven.