Thoughts on Faith / Youth Ministry

Three months in: my messy office

This post was previously published in our church’s weekly email devotional. 

A couple of weeks ago the Senior Pastor walked into my office and found me standing on one foot, precariously reaching over a waist-high pile of ministry stuff, with my backside to the door, hunting for a book I couldn’t remember if I had at home or at church. I felt uncomfortable being  found in this unflattering pose and even more uncomfortable that after three months here my office is still not organized. Sure, youth ministers always have frisbees, glowsticks, ping pong balls, piles of books, rocks, toys from the nursery, and glittery art supplies lying around. But, I  work better when I am not constantly hunting for things.

Turning  to face her

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This is the tidier side of things…

, I began  to apologize for the state of my workspace. She stopped me quickly, reminding me that my priority had been to spend my first weeks getting to know people. I’ve been meeting with as many families as possible for one on one conversations. I’ve been to youth plays and tennis matches.  I had lunch with a family with young children where I got to play Star Wars legos. And, there’s nothing like washing toys and windows for getting to know people.

This last weekend I went on the annual retreat with 16 of our youth. Under the golden leaves, along the shore of Lake Geneva,  I got to know these amazing young people even better. I now know more about their favorite books, the pressures of school, and the ways that siblings get along with each other (or don’t). We talked about times they’ve experienced racism, times they’ve felt connected to God and church, and the things they want to be known for in life. These rich conversations bonded us around the fire, over meals, and on the high ropes course.

In a recent  blog post, Trey Hall identified the ability to develop authentic connection as a common practice among successful church leaders. The Church is, as the song goes, the people. Aren’t we all looking for relationships that matter?  For places to wonder and give thanks, to share our hopes and dreams, joys and challenges,  doubts and fears?  These are the rich conversations bring us closer as human beings and as community of faith.

I’m truly thankful to know all of you. If we haven’t had a conversation yet, I’d love to share a coffee or play Legos. For that, my office will wait.

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