There’s maybe nothing I enjoy more than being loud.
I’m a loud human being – I talk loud, I laugh loud, I shout a lot for seemingly no reason, I sing to myself as I’m walking around, I play loud music and, as my dad would have described me in high school, have footsteps so loud that I sound like I’m just falling down the stairs.
So youth ministry is a good fit for me.
Teenagers are loud. They’re always talking, shouting, singing, running into things, sprinting up and down the stairs, throwing things, clicking pens, playing with their keys; they’re just noisy. And when you put a whole bunch of them in the same room, in the same building as each other, it can sometimes feel a little chaotic.
Our former intern and FUMCFW Youth Ministries Alumni, Claire, once said to us that “the Justin is most itself when its pure chaos.”
There are Sundays where it feels like there is so much energy in the Justin that the building itself is vibrating – but it might just be shaking from the teenagers running up and down the stairs, playing basketball in the gym, making music on the stage, or just yelling for no particular reason.
And I love it. I love their loudness, their chaos, their wildness, their energy. It makes me feel alive, fills me up to keep going when things are hard, reminds me why I love these kids and why I love being here. Their wildness makes the Justin feel alive, like the building itself takes on their spirit and feeds it back into them when they need it the most.
And then, for a year and a half, they weren’t in the Justin. It was like you took the air, the breath, the life out of the building. Their wildness had become such a part of this ministry, this building, our jobs and our lives that when it was gone, nothing was the same.
Claire suggested that the Justin is a place that teenagers could be truly wild, where their chaos was not seen as an inconvenient reminder that they were not yet adults but celebrated as the gift they offer to the rest of us: that God has a wildness – the Holy Spirit speaks in fire and tongues and donkeys after all – and embracing that wildness is part of what it means to be created in the image of the divine.
Their wildness gives them the courage to step out of their comfort zones, inspires them to dream bigger and imagine a different world, creates space for them to feel big feelings and gives them the freedom to lean into the calling that God is putting on their lives. We hope that a little bit of their divine wildness rubs off on us – and on you.
Our 2021-2022 theme is WILD.
We are so grateful, so excited to have teenagers and their wildness back in the Justin. They are what give this building life. When they are here, this ministry and this community are at their best. When they are wild and chaotic and loud, they bring joy and laughter and energy. We cannot wait to see what this year holds and where their wildness takes us.
Associate Director of Youth Ministries