So today I wanted to talk about something personal and something that I care very very deeply about. Youth Ministry. This is not a new passion of mine that simply started because I got a job doing it. It is something that started off small. May have been forced at the beginning. But it grew.
Kind of like the Parable of the Mustard Seed.
So I will tell my story, of youth ministry and my involvement. It started back at St. George's Episcopal Church in Germantown. My mother forced me to go to EYC, against my will.
Eh. Not that great
I would try to take one of my friends with me so I had a friend there. But he couldn't come all the time and during those times...still no good.
I didn't want to go. Ever see The Princess Bride? It is kind of like Fred Savage when grandpa is trying to read him the story. He really wants nothing to do with it.
After sometime, I made some friends in youth group. Mainly, there was this group of brothers who always fought each other and were picking on each other. Now, growing up in a house of only girls, fighting was cool. One time I saw the middle brother, throw the youngest brother into the wall and fall to the bed underneath. The oldest brother saw and threw the younger brother into the same wall, where he crashed down on to the bed, on top of the other brother.
WOW. That was frighteningly cool.
Anyway, so we all became really close friends at St. George's. We always went to youth group. Loved youth group so much, that I started going to 2 youth groups! I had friends at both and I wanted to see them all!
Well, after some tough times, we no longer had a youth program at St. George's and our youth group had dwindled down to 3 people that couldn't make it all the time.
I didn't want to give up on this community that had helped me through so much. So I began coming to Holy Communion, that second youth group that I would go to anyway.
I quickly made a bunch more friends and those brothers, they started coming too.
The feeling I got from being with those people, all of my friends, I felt that I can handle anything. Any question I had, no matter what, I felt safe and comfortable there.
Now to give some perspective to what I was like in high school here we go...
I did take honors classes and AP classes. I did work hard in school. I can also admit I wish I had worked harder. I also played soccer. Not only for a rec team but competitively. I also played for a basketball team for Holy Communion. I was also a proud member of the bowling team. Yes, I said bowling. Didn't see that one coming did you? I was also a member of the National Art Honors Society all through high school. I was very involved in my AP art class and various art competitions around Memphis. I think I have a trash can I painted still set up at the fairgrounds. I worked at Huey's. Many nights you could find me either, expediting, food running, or as your Take-Out Attendant.
I was also very involved with youth group. I tried to never miss EYC or our Wednesday night programming. I was very involved with Happening. Member of DYC. Yea, I can admit, I had a lot on my plate. What can I say, I wanted to do it all.
In talking with other youth workers about our programs today, they asked me about my experiences with youth groups. To which a conversation including all of the above was talked about.
You are an exception. That was what I was told. Putting such a priority on being active in the church was and is not a normal thought process for a high school. Pretty much he was telling me that I was weird. Which may be true. We have actually done a survey to see who was weirder between me and a few other people. I lost.
But I thought about it. Am I really the exception? Cause that group of brothers that I befriended back in like 1999. They are still involved today too. In 2012, all three of them volunteered with EYC here at Holy Communion.
Three other members of that same youth group. Still involved. Help out with youth group.
A great majority of everyone from that group, still keeps in touch. Knows about what each one is up to. We are still connected.
Where else can you make friends like that? Am I really the exception then if there seems to be a common trend?
I think the exception was that we all had committed to being involved. We all wanted to be in the atmosphere. This place where we felt connected. This place where long after we were supposed to leave we were still sitting in the parking lot not wanting to leave each other's company.
I was not alone. So I know I am no exception. That was the norm. My request this week is simple but can change your life. Make that commitment. Please. Give it a shot. It may take a sometime. But sooner or later, you will stop thinking about it so much and you will be wondering, what is it that makes you want to come back. Why can't you get enough!?
Segway, I have also been told I have this pretty big flaw. After struggling for years, trying to figure things out, finally someone just told me, "Just ask for help."
Especially with this job, when you pour so much energy and time and emotion into what you are doing. You can begin to take things personally. And just want to make things work. Sometimes you just need to ask for help. We are made to be co-dependent people. Yes, I said it. I know that goes against everything society tells you. But we need each other. And I was told that I was independent to a fault. Which can be true. However, I am working on it.
So I ask you, what can I do for you? How can we better build a program that makes you want to come? Will you help me make this program as great as I know it can be?
"Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."
Come join us. Be a part of this community. Understand that atmosphere of what youth group can be like. Where you don't want to leave. It becomes so important to you. Don't make that the exception. Make it the norm.
Cause that feeling of not wanting to leave...maybe; just maybe...that is the Holy Spirit at work.