I arrived for my first day of work at FUMC Fort Worth at 8:45 am on July 11, 2016. By 9:00 am on July 11th, 2016, I was wearing a hula skirt and singing in front of 700 VBS participants. This job has continued in that general trajectory ever since. Vacation Bible School holds a special place in my heart at this church because it was last year, in the youth break room, that I first met so many of the youth of this church. With over 80 youth volunteers last year (and 90 this year), that break room is among the most effective ways to meet as many of our teenagers in as short a time as possible.
Our youth love serving at VBS, and I have so much fun watching them do it! We over at the Youth Ministries are constantly working to find ways to have teenagers connect with the larger church, and VBS is a great example of youth enthusiastically jumping at the opportunity. Youth love VBS not only because they love children, and spending time with each other, but also because it gives them an opportunity to be part of something that, for many of them, was a treasured memory in their own childhood. They remember teenagers helping out while they were in VBS and want to be part of that memory for younger kids at our church.
I thought about the way that those memories of being served by others pushes us back to service as I returned to the youth break room this week. Ask anyone who works or volunteers in youth ministries how they got into it, and you’ll probably hear the same story: they serve with youth, because when they were in youth, a volunteer or director served them, and it changed them. I work in youth ministries because when I was a teenager, my own youth ministries loved me so well. These teenagers are volunteering with children now, because when they were children, teenagers volunteered with them.
When we serve, especially with children and youth, we are not just impacting the life of those we serve, but all of those who those we serve will someday serve, and all those that those people will serve, etc, etc. It’s a chain reaction, an exponential growth curve of goodness that inevitably comes from when we go out as God’s people in the world.
A student in our youth ministries asked me last week about Methodist Justice Ministries, and told me as soon as she heard me talk about it that she knew that she was called to do something like that with her life, to work to ensure legal protections for vulnerable women and children. I can’t help but think of all of those who she may someday serve, and how they might be changed through her.
We don’t always see how God is working through the service we do, with children who annoy us or teenagers who ignore us, but, I hope you can take heart in this as much as I have: as of this week, I am one year into this job, and I am already starting to see that growth curve of goodness slope up.