Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Youth Ministry Success

This past Sunday was Youth Sunday at our church. It's a popular thing among smaller churches to have the youth lead the service once or twice a year. It's very draining to me, but it's a great thing for so many reasons. But as you know I've been having some troubles in my job, and consequently, I was feeling a lot of pressure to perform. It took a lot of prayer on my part to move past that.

The service was thrown together in so many ways. The students are all so busy this time of year with musicals and track and soccer and proms that getting them all together in one place at one time was nearly impossible. When it cam down to it: the boy who played the offeratory messed up badly and laughed (with Richard) during the middle of it. I was literally running copies 3 minutes before the service. And I never even read what the girl who was doing part of the sermon with me was going to recite! It seriously had disaster written all over it and the result: a miracle.

I stepped out in faith and put in an element of experiential worship. At the end of the service I had the youth stand in the center aisle and had the adults cheer for them, and then I asked them to keep cheering and imagine surrounding them "So great a cloud of witnesses" from the past 180 years who went before us to be with the Lord. And we finished with reading Hebrews 12:1-2. I really wasn't sure how'd they would respond and I told Richard beforehand that it was either going to be well received or an epic fail. (I contiously did not ask them to leave their pew because people in our church have a tough time giving up their assigned seat - you know, the frozen chosen). One woman even got out of her seat and gave all the students a hug.

How do I feel: relieved, and thankful, and hopeful. Hopeful, that it was a step of growth. Sometimes I feel like so much of church life is two sides pitted against each other (and lately it's been young v old). Hopeful, that we can see that we're different and worship different ways, but with the same goal: preserving the legacy of faith. The faith that has been passed down to us from Abel, and Noah, and Abraham, and Isaac, and time would fail me to speak of all those of the past and present who are leaving me and the younger generations a heritage of faithfulness.

I seriously only heard one complaint (and it was the standard, "this was so nice, I wish we could the kids in church every Sunday"). But I've resigned myself to that complaint. All in all, when the church secretary emails and tells you she heard nothing but good things: relief! Thank you Jesus! :)
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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Don't Judge the YM

I had a group of kids at the mall today. We managed to break apart at one point and I had Riley, Gigi and two middle school girls with me in Crafts2000. Riley inevitably had to pee, so I told the girls to watch Gigi for me. As I came out of the bathroom, they came running up to me with Gigi in the middle of a shopping cart filled with rubber balls. I of course laughed, but some other nearby moms thought it was appropriate to give me dirty looks. Don't judge the youth minister lady. Don't judge.
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Friday, April 2, 2010

6 weeks

6 weeks til Richard is on summer break. 6 weeks til my family doesn't revolve around a school schedule... 6 weeks til 3 months of freedom.

I think I have my expectations set a little high...
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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Feeling cheated...

I was pondering today my relationship with a lot of the people in our church. The majority of our congregation is in their 70's, 80's and we even have a few in their 90's. My pastor often criticizes the fact that I don't have a strong enough relationship with them, and I was thinking, "Well, it's hard, they're old enough to be my grandparents." We have not 1 but 2 generations that separate us. It was my parents who were protesting Vietnam while they were trying to keep the reigns on their children. I was in the 3rd grade during the first gulf war, many of them were in the 3rd grade during WWII. They were raised during the industrial revolution, me during the "technilogical" revolution. What we have in common is a love for Jesus, but most of the time our differences stand-out like a sore thumb. I love raising my children in a small multi-generational church, but I think it's unrealistic to think I'm going to become friends with them. What do you think?

People are living longer and longer. We have a woman who is 50 and regularly attends church with her grandmother. Therefore, the older generations of older congregations are holding onto the baton longer and longer which leaves people like Richard and I who are in their later 20's ready to lead and having no place to do it. It leads to frustration and when we leave those emotions unchecked they lead to sin. In the book I'm reading: the Relationship Principles of Jesus Tom Holladay suggests that we deal with that emotion by cutting off the circumstance. (Matt 5:30). What would that look like in this scenario? I think it has looked like the surge of new churches that started in the 80's and is still taking place today. Again, what do you think? I think we end up with churches like Richard's aunt's - 4,000 members and not one over the age of 60. It saddens me to think children in that congregation are missing out on the benefit of having extra-grandparents.

I also wonder what it will be like for me as I age. As the television cartoon the Jetsons becomes more of a reality I'm beginning to think hover-crafts and warp zones aren't so far off. Will I roll with the changes or gravitate to the familiar? Right now I like the music Evelyn likes, but I also like the music my parents like. At the youth ministry convention I attended 2 guys in their early 60's were laying down worship music in funky grooves and I found myself digging it and wishing my parents were there. Some of my best friends are in their 40's and I love their fellowship. I guess my point is that I connect easily with people 1 generation away, in either direction, but find it challenging when 2 or even 3 come between us.

Lastly, all this thinking led me to think about my grandparents, in particular my grandmother. She died 16 years ago on April 5th. I won't mention it then because it's also my mom's birthday and I'd rather celebrate my mom's life than my grandmother's death. But there are days where I feel cheated, she was my last grandparent and she died when I was 12. I think she'd be 82 and would have lived to meet my kids and several of my cousins. I wish I could end this with some great conclusion, but I don't have one. I love the fact that we have so many generations living amongst us, feel cheated that I didn't have this in my life, but am frustrated by what this means for the life of our congregation.
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