With the time we have with our students, we all have a longing to see each of them grow and become everything that God has for them. We also long to see our youth groups become counter-cultural communities, places of transcendence where students can become a part of a movement = something that is greater than themselves and that is making a difference in our communities and, as a result, the world.
Glimpses of Momentum
I must confess that my least favorite part of youth ministry is coming home after a mission trip. Students, on these get-aways, have finally begun to live the way of Jesus. They actually have embraced a spirit-filled life. But now we get to go back to the noise of our lives. And over the years I've wondered, how do we take what we experienced on this trip, and duplicate it back home? We've all thought this...
A few weeks ago I was the speaking to a pretty large youth group. There were a few hundred in the room and the atmosphere, as you can imagine, was electric with anticipation. There's nothing like a room full of teenagers... absolutely nothing like it!
Before I spoke there was a very entertaining program: hilarious welcome by the interns, a large group game, engaging and fun announcement video, dynamic worship... you know, the basic youth group stuff typical of today. The crazy thing is that the youth pastor asked me to come and talk about how the faith is actually a movement.
See, she had noticed that this large group had grown stale, that they were stuck. She felt like what they were doing should have been more effective: she said, "we entertain, we give great information, we provide a space to hear the gospel and encounter God's presence, and we build friendships and community." The reality though, was that she believed it wasn't actually leading to much of anything. Her fear was that none of it was leading to true transformation or creating youth group wide momentum. She and her team were longing for more.
What I found was this: her students were also longing for more. What she was feeling was right on the money. The students also were tired of sitting in the room and just talking about the faith. They were tired of having isolated experiences with God (for the most part - just on trips) = they wanted more. They knew, in their minds and because they were told, that God was on the move => and they wanted the God of the Bible. They wanted to see God do something, anything, today. They didn't just want stories about the gloried past, they wanted stories of the here and now. They longed for a vibrant intellectual and spiritual existence that was rooted deeply in a community of people who were actively participating in what God was doing, NOW.
The youth workers of this community and the students themselves all wanted the same thing. I actually think it is the cry of all humanity. We are all longing for what was lost in the beginning.
What this group ended up doing was just one thing. I challenged them to start a movement by praying. And they are actually doing it - They became a praying community and it is literally changing everything.
I think that must be the beginning of momentum = prayer. Desperate pleas for God to bring peace to troubled minds, joy to the heavy hearted, and calling to the purposeless. Prayer leads us back to God's heart. And not just prayer by the leadership. The students MUST be a part of this!
What if youth ministries became vibrant prayerful communities that sought to create sanctuary and mission? I believe students are longing for both.
I have to head back to carrying some boxes, but this is just the beginning.
See you next week!