There are some things that we do here in the Justin that seem a little crazy from the outside.
Making five gallons of Nickelodeon-esque slime to pour onto an intern’s head? A little crazy. Cheering on youth who are being fed chocolate pudding blindfolded . . . by someone else who is also blindfolded? A little crazy (and messy). Riding around on scooters in thy gym while being pulled by someone wearing roller skates? Ok, probably more than a little crazy.
Covering the inside of the Justin with enough Christmas lights to require their own power isolator? That might be one of the craziest things yet.
But we don’t just do things like Fall Kick-Off and Open Justin and Christmas Party because they’re fun (and don’t get me wrong, they are fun) — we do them because they are an important part of our youth learning how to live a fulfilling, communal Christian life.
Our Healthy Plate Discipleship model places equal emphasis on each of the six categories: worship, learn, serve, give, pray, and play — and we give our youth opportunities to experience and live into each of them as much as we can (give is hard when most of your demographic doesn’t have any of their own money, but we do try, OK?). We spend time in worship and learning together during Sunday School every Sunday morning; we have nights dedicated to prayer and service during the Refuge; and we host retreats and have free time to allow our teens to decompress and relax without the pressure of their normal lives.
For us, PLAY isn’t just time spent playing cards in the big room or basketball in the gym or foosball on the third floor — it’s the time spent eating together around long tables, it’s the time spent screaming along to a song in the van together, and it’s the time spent talking about what’s really going on in life — together. PLAY is the thing that most organically builds friendships and relationships and community.
In the earliest days of the church, its members simply gathered as a community during any time of uncertainty and upheaval. Their actions were reflections of their time spent with Jesus — breaking bread together, being present with one another, talking about their new shared reality of a life after the death and resurrection of the Messiah — and are the things we try to reflect through our times spent focusing on play. They’re community and relationship building, they’re reflections of what the earliest church was like, and they’re fun and loud and give our youth a chance to be a little less grown-up for a night.
So we hope you’ll join us this Sunday for food, games, and gift exchanges in the Justin Youth Building from 5:30 – 8:00 pm and enjoy a little time together in the PLAY section of Healthy Plate Discipleship.
Costumes, holiday attire, or ugly sweaters are not required, but are greatly encouraged! White Elephant gifts for the gift exchange should be wrapped and should not exceed $10. For more information, please check out the event on the website here.
Associate Director of Youth Ministries