the youth at youth group haven’t seemed like they really want to be there lately. since, the post high school youth now meet on another night, the jr.sr. high group has felt their absence. this younger group doesn’t quite have a sense of ownership yet. some of them come because their parents expect them to…many of them are “churched”, meaning they’ve grown accustomed to the culture of church but haven’t necessarily experienced regularly walking with the living God. this has shown itself in people detaching themselves, not participating in group activities, sticking with who they know, not reaching out to others who are different, inattention during teaching, and apathy in small group discussions.
after meeting and praying amongst the fellow youth leaders we asked: “what would happen if we as youth leaders acted in similarly selfish manner?”
at first we laughed. but then we started thinking. and then i started getting scared. would we be able to do it? how would would everyone react? we prayed.
we arrived at youth group at the same time. the plan was to not initiate with any of the youth, to reject them as we saw fit, and for us as leaders to do our own thing. some of the youth said hi, we looked at them and went back to talking amongst the adults. we called everyone in for dinner and formed a circle, like we usually do before praying for the meal. once we joined hands in a circle, the youth leaders disengaged and went straight for the food to feed ourselves. then we went off and did our own thing: opening a book to read by ourselves, taking out a board-game to play just amongst us adults, not speaking with any of the youth but to tell them they had to stay inside. this continued for almost an hour.
at 7:30pm i turned off the lights and another youth leader projected a scene from the movie “the passion of the Christ”. Jesus was shown bloody and beaten, carrying a large wooden cross. a man from the crowd was forced to help Jesus carry the cross, as the man insisted he was the innocent one having to carry a criminals cross (when in fact Jesus was the innocent one carrying this man’s/our cross). we called everyone together in a circle again. we asked, “what did you notice was different about tonight?”
slowly but surely the youth shared how they felt. they shared that is was eerily quiet. there was no energy. they were hurt when they were ignored. something felt wrong. it was boring.
we asked “would you want to come to a group like this?”
then it began to dawn on them.
they have acted like this. we apologized…we have acted like this. just because the “leaders” didn’t take initiative to serve and reach out, why didn’t anyone else step up? what would happen if we continue to act and live in a manner that is convenient to us? this might be a group. but it wouldn’t be a loving one. it certainly wouldn’t be one where anyone could see Jesus well.
Jesus loved us and still loves us regardless of how poorly we have treated Him. He washed His own disciples feet…He took on all of their junk…even when one would stab Him in the back with a kiss and all of them would desert Him. Even when people beat Him, He still prayed for them and took on their sin to forgive them.
What if we, instead, loved like He loved us?
we split up into small groups and prayed for each one in our group, asking God “how do you love (fill in name)?”. We listened to what God spoke and shared with us and then prayed that over each other.
the youth were thinking long and hard. they were sharing. we were humbled. we were blessed.
God does love us. Let us love like He does.