Although my senior high students might not realize, I have tried spending more time prepping for youth group this year than in years past. This is not easy for me. For the first 11 years or so of my "professional" ministry career, I was much more of a "wing it because I'm awesome" kind of guy. While this was cute and adorable at first, and on a few occasions made for really great youth groups and confo, for the most part it meant my lessons and group time were a bit scattered, and while the kids may have had a good time, it wasn't nearly as good as it could have been.
This was really clear to me more so for confirmation than anything else. In order to engage the 8th and 9th grade students, I had to really put significant time into thinking what stories about myself I wanted to share, how they would fit in to the overall purpose of the night, and how I was going to connect it to their real life. This may sound easy, but I think it is really more difficult than one may think. Sometimes we try and lump all middle school kids together, but in reality, they are as different as any other group. You have the jocks, artsy students, students who are starting to realize their faith is an important part of who they are as well as students who really, really, really, really, really, don't want to be there.
At any rate, I started to really figure out, if we wanted the students to take their faith seriously, we had to put serious effort into what we were doing to help the kids along in their faith journeys.
So, last night we had a session on dealing with grief and loss. The numbers were not great. I was hoping to have a lot more students arrive. It was a bit dissapointing, but then Pr. Matt Larson began to speak. Matt and a few pages of typed out notes ready to go. We showed Matthew, a Nooma video to begin the night. Matt was great. He really did a fantastic job connecting the video, his life experience, and why this matters to the kids. When Matt was done speaking, we broke the kids up into small groups where I had come up with a sheet for each small group leader.
Anyway, I think it was a really great night. I'm sure if you asked each kid, not everyone would agree. However, I think we prepared well and was really pleased with how it went.
The point of the entire story is that if we take this whole "faith formation" thing seriously, we need to put serious effort into it. Had Matt just showed up and talked, it would have been ok. Or if we would have just had the kids and leaders sit down afterwards and talk, it might have been adequate, but adequate is not good enough.
During this holy week, we are talking about a God who came down, died and the cross and rose again. I think that is something we need to take seriously and something we need to put real effort into passing along.
Other random thoughts...
- "Hope Springs Eternal". The Twins are still tied for first place. So what if they don't have any pitching, they still have Mauer.
- I am going on a sabbatical in June. I plan on blogging more about that later, but I'm fairly excited about it. Plus, I get to spend some time with an intern I had (the only one) a few years back. Yea, after him, I never got another one....hmmm...
- I just finished the 2nd season of Game of Thrones. Yea, I'm a fan.