Because this church writes our paychecks, I can pretty easily slip into the mindset that the primary work that is done here in the Justin is the work that the rest of the staff and I do. The work that gets done here is the vans that Brenda reserves, or the curriculum that Matt writes, or the parent meeting that I take, or the small group that Lane puts together. The work of the Justin, it is so easy to believe, is lesson writing and event planning and schedule keeping.
So imagine my ambient stress surrounding doing a Youth-led service in The Gathering. We had a schedule to put to together, A/V needs to coordinate, slides to create, teenagers to recruit, promotions to think through, there was much work that needed to be done, and we’ve spent the last couple weeks doing all of it. I, in particular, have been handling the speakers, trying to get them the support they need, helping pick scripture, sending texts and emails, and having froyo meetings to talk through drafts. When I got to our rehearsal with all of our youth worship leaders on Sunday, I thought of all of that work and all the little things left still to do.
And then the dry run began, and the kids spoke. While I had heard from all of them at some point in their process of writing sermonettes, I hadn’t seen any of them as finished products. They were lovely, I won’t tell you everything, because you should come check them out at 9:30 and 11:00 am in Wesley Hall this weekend, but they talked about their faith, and their friends, and their families, about mission trips and retreats and all the things that they were learning about God, and about themselves, and about being a church together.
And I realized that the vast majority of the work that had been done for The Gathering Youth Sunday, was done way before it was on my checklist, and I didn’t really have much to do with it. The great work that had been done for gathering youth Sunday was the work that God had been doing in each of these teenagers. The work wasn’t my work or the work of the kids; the real leg work, the real foundation laying, had happened when those teenagers had baptism vows said over them, had 3rd-grade bibles handed to them, had confirmation stoles placed on them. The work of The Gathering Youth Sunday was the great and wonderful work that God started in these teenagers’ hearts way before they were teenagers, work that was mediated through Sunday school teachers and parents and middle school lock-in leaders, and through grace in the stillness of their hearts. That was the work that we were celebrating this weekend, that is the work that is on-going through their years and youth and far, far beyond them.
So I hope that you’ll join us this Sunday, and celebrate the work that has been done. Yes, come celebrate the work that the teenagers have done in putting together a service that will be insightful and genuine and surprising, and celebrate the work that their families and this church has put in in raising them to be the wonderful, compassionate, thoughtful teenagers that they are. But more than anything I hope that you’ll come and celebrate the great good work that God has done in their lives, and continues to do.
That is the real work being done, and man, is it something to see.
See you Sunday,
Director of Youth Ministries