We live in a world of sin and imperfection. I am a child of God striving each day to live out my calling. Welcome to my blog where you get the inside scoop of this Child of God's life!
"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity." - 1 Timothy 4:12

Friday, November 30, 2012

Thank You Gift

This week I made a simple thank you gift for all of our wonderful volunteers that help with our children and youth programs. I thought I would share in case anyone is ever searching for an easy way to say thank you to the people that make your programs possible.

This was the thank you letter:

To our marvelous volunteers at Hesston United Methodist Church,
We wanted to TAKE 5 to tell you how thankful we are for you. You have been LIFESAVERS for all of the children and youth programs we have had going on this fall. You deserve a PAYDAY or two for all of the NUGGETS of Bible knowledge you have bestowed upon us. Thank you for always being JOLLY and putting up with all of our BURSTS of energy and making sure that we learn something each week so that we are not DUM DUMS. Have a very Merry Christmas and know that we appreciate all of the extra time and energy you are putting into Bible Zone, Mission Possible, Faithgirlz, Godsguyz, Sunday School, Hand Bells, and everything else that goes on here at the church.
We Love You,
From all of the kids at HUMC

These letters were attached to little gift bags filled with the candy mentioned in the letter. I let my middle school girls help me make the bags so I can't guarantee that each bag had what they were supposed to but I tried.

Each bag should have had:
1 Take 5 Bar
A Handful of Lifesavers
2 Payday bars
2 Hershey's Nuggets
A Handful of Jolly Ranchers
A Handful of Starburts
A Handful of Dum Dums

I got the big bags of candy at Wal-Mart of the fun size bars and let the kids distribute them into the bags. The gift bags were in the Christmas aisle. As I went back to attach the letters I noticed some bags were messed up but oh well, that is what happens sometimes when you let the kiddos help! :)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Ageless Boundaries

You aren't old enough, wait until you’re older, when I was your age; these are all sentences that teens often hear from the adults in their lives. Growing up in a church is no different from anywhere else when it comes age, in fact, it is often the place where youth are shut down first. As a youth pastor I often have people ask me where are the youth, why don't they come to church? I have a hard time answering, because I really just want to say go ask them yourself. If you look at the average mainstream church today there is a very significant age group missing. In the church I work in it happens to be about 12-30. That is basically two generations missing from our Sunday morning congregation. I'm often asked what turns people your age away from church? Once again I want to say go ask them, because I'm here. 

Since I started full time ministry in August I think I am starting to see some of the reasons behind this age gap. These are the things I hear:

  1. It's boring.
  2. It's too early.
  3. I get nothing out of the service.
  4. I don't feel like I belong.
  5. I don't know anyone here.
Then I spend part of my Sunday convincing the students that are here to stay in the sanctuary and off of their electronic devices. 

Well I fall into this age group, in a way I'm an anomaly, I work here. But I feel it too, in a deep way. Some people here don't take me seriously because I'm only 23. I look like I could still be in high school, so once again they don't take me seriously. I remember when I interviewed for this job, I had been struggling with other churches not hiring me because I was too young, and I told this hiring committee this, and in turn said my age and my gender are the two things about me that I cannot change. 

My age and my gender are the two things about me that I cannot change.

This is true of everyone, so why is this one of the main reasons for feeling like you don't belong in a group. 

I'm too old for this Sunday School class, but I'm too young for that one. There is no one here my age. 

Now I really do believe that the church that I work for is trying to break this mold, but it is harder to do than you would think. We have programs for our youth on Wednesday nights that have good attendance and each age group from baby through high school has a place to go that is their own. The spiritual needs of the youth are being met on Wednesday night. But what about the rest of the week? And what about the young people who are out of high school but not yet 30? This is probably the busiest and hardest group to get a hold of. They bring their kids and drop them off and then enjoy the hour kid-less to do whatever it is young parents do without their children. They are often so busy and so exhausted that the idea of one more thing on their plate is too much. But somehow we snag a few to sit on our church committees and lead Sunday School. 

Part of the reason I was hired is to help fix this problem. I am the youth and discipleship minister. The discipleship portion is the part that is supposed to reach out to the young adults in this church and help meet their spiritual needs as well. Things have been so crazy here that I have been given the semester to figure out the youth part and then will add in the discipleship at the first of the year.

Part of me is struggling with this though. I am 23, and single, so how am I supposed to reach out to those older than me that have families? Well people may view me as a timid quiet person, but the truth is I'm observing the way things work. I do not like to rock the boat but I do like to make a difference. We now have a Sunday School class for this age group, I can't attend because I have the youth but it seems to be working pretty well. So what is it that these young people need?

They need a church that is willing to hear their ideas, a church that is willing to try new things, a church that is willing to accept them the way they are. They may not be able to do every week, but once or twice a month is definitely do able. They need someone who is willing to ask questions and try something different. Hmm...maybe I was the right person, those are all things I like to do.

I just need to find a way to remind these committees that if they want young adults and youth to sit through the boring  monotony of the meeting then they need to be willing to try some of the "off the wall" ideas they have rather than writing them off and sticking with what they have always done. 

If you want my generation, and those younger to exist in your congregation then you need to start doing some things that you haven't done, because obviously what you're doing now isn't working, or we would be there.

I do believe I know what I'm going to be working on this week!

"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity." - 1 Timothy 4:12