Every Tuesday after work, I either skip supper or gulp it down because I have somewhere to be: senior high youth group.
No, I don't have kids at home anymore. No, I didn't have some special revelation from God to do this (just two teenaged girls). No, I don't get paid. No, I am not the bubbly, popular chick who loves pep rally events or that even is a model Christian (what I think of as "Christian"). But I love these kids and how God pursues them, and me through them.
I am awkward. I don't know how to spark up deep conversations like Mel. I am not as funny (they either laugh at or with) as Dave. I am not experienced or trained like Kim. I just sort of hang out. I get harassed by some of the guys. I pick on some of the girls. We laugh. A lot. And sometimes we pray or study the Bible. But mostly, we laugh.
And I love these kids!
They are awkward and funny. I pray for them when they put out Facebook requests. I cheer them on when they are working on an obstacle and challenge them when they are getting off track.
And sometimes I get Saran wrapped to telephone poles.
(But I won't do any of Keiser's weird food games, and you would be wise to watch out for them too!)
I kinda feel bad for people that just come to services on Sundays and don't think about the church for the rest of the week. I have some crazy relationships with these kids and their families. We become a family. Not that I expect a Christmas present, but I do expect to hear about the latest boyfriend drama, school frustration, college applications, spiritual question, and all of this in some crazy foreign accent if possible (Sarah and Averie have quite the repertoire!).
These kids have caused me to lean harder into God as I know the struggles that many of them have, and many will face yet. I was there once, ya know, and my life got super messy. Hopefully I can be a voice of Truth in their lives and a companion on the journey to point out the potholes.
In many ways youth ministry does that for me, too:
It is ok to be geeky and awkward. We are all becoming someone different-a little bit biology, a lot of progressive sanctification. There seem to be frequent reminders: Laughter and friends are very important and relationships are hard. We, the church as community, are in this together, though. And faith requires stepping out of what is normal an comfortable. It is where God meets us. It is where the real spiritual work begins.
Youth ministry is hard. We spend hours with these amazing & talented kids each week & then we get on Facebook, Twitter, and Instgram (I am holding out on Snapchat) to stay in contact and encourage them. I didn't expect it. I didn't expect the time investment. But more, I didn't expect the heart investment.
If you aren't serving, just try something. I swore I would not do youth ministry next year, but I catch myself bringing up ideas. And, frankly, I would miss these guys & girls. I will miss the ones who are graduating (especially the one who suckered me into this gig), but I also have very cool 9th grade girls to follow. For years. (What??? Don't tell the dear husband.)
What ministry do you serve in that has rocked your world?