I don't like that parents are excluded - made to feel like they need to just drop their kids off and leave them alone to do their job. Or that parents drop their kids off and expect the youth workers to fix what was already broken when they dropped them off there. Or that parents drop them off because they are tired of how hard teenagers are and want someone else to do the hard work of raising their kids. Or that it is all about fun and games and not much about ministry and service. Or that the kids are isolated from the rest of the Body and once they're grown, they have no idea how to be a part of the Body and so they end up leaving the Church.
A few things I love about some churches and their youth groups -
Parents are encouraged to be involved in every aspect of their kids' lives. Everyone jumps in to invest in the lives of the broken and show them the way to God's healing. Parents allow others to step in and invest in the lives of their kids where they are unable to do so. The Church teaches kids that fun and service often go hand-in-hand (and when it's not fun, it's still good and it's even better when we do it together), kids and adults work side-by-side in every aspect of Body life, so when the kids are grown, they just keep doing what they've always done.
When I was younger, and knew everything, my view of youth groups was almost exclusively of the first description I gave. It was unfair, filled with pride (on my part), but honestly, sometimes true. I've seen those groups and I never wanted my kids to be part of that. I came very close to "throwing the baby out with the bath water" and writing off all youth groups.
Then I had teenagers. And realized I knew nothing. I saw they had needs that I was unable to meet. Either out a lack of the right gifts, or they were unwilling to listen to me at the time, or I was too close to the situation, or ignorance on my part, or God just had someone else in mind for that particular issue. And God brought people that could meet me where I was - could meet my kids where they were. I am so grateful.
Luke and I went to visit at Super Summer last night. Super Summer is a youth leadership camp that my kids have gone to through their junior high and high school years, and Brian and Dylan are there this week. It brought lots of memories back for me as they've come back over the years and shared what they learned - as I've watched them incorporate it into their lives.
Last week Brian and Dylan worked at Summit Camp. A camp my kids have gone to every year of their teenage lives, and now Dylan staffs a week as well as attending. My kids are better for this. They love Jesus more. They know how to work harder, serve better, love deeper.
|(Dylan - pouring out Jesus)|
Every week for the last nine years, people have come alongside Brian and I, and have invested in the lives of my teenagers and I will be forever grateful.
As I was running this morning, names kept running through my head - names of people that have poured Jesus into my kids - and I thanked God for each of them. Some of them entered my kids' lives early on and have never left, some have been for a season, but left impressions that will last forever. In ways we could not have done alone.
I think this is why God left us all the "one another"s in scripture. He knew we were going to need each other. He knew we'd be tempted to think we could do it alone and we'd need to be reminded that we can't.
So to each of you that have poured Jesus into our kids ---
Their lives are better for having you in it.