I volunteer with my church youth group (InsideOut) at New Vintage Church (I know Micah and Chris would want me to tag all the linked information, so they can promote it as much as possible. Because my blog totally gets a ton of traffic from people looking for youth groups. I digress).
Yesterday, we created an opportunity for the students to build community amongst each other outside of the church environment. Yes, that’s right! We went bowling! I like to say I won the moral victory, by not bowling. Instead, I spent the evening taking pictures of the group. Only about five students came. I am thankful to have learned from my student leader programming work that programs are not about how many students show up, but what the students who show up get out of the program. I think the students who came were able to have a fun time, and bond a bit with each other, and the leaders.
After we went bowling, we went to In-N-Out, and ate delicious food. Again, I abstained, merely purchasing fries and a milk shake, in order to save room for the delicious dinner I later had with my roommates (yum, tacos). All-in-all, it was a great time to spend with the students and other leaders.
As I was driving home, I put on “In You 2” by Thru the Roof, and it reminded me of my own youth group experience. I often think of the youth group I was a part of. I never knew then how much it, or the people who were part of it, would impact my life. Maybe to some extent, I still don’t understand it. That is really another story for another day.
The memory that came to mind as I was driving was from a very specific event. There was a weekend youth conference at Slater Middle School one weekend. It was for high school and junior high students. I think at the time I was in the equivalent to 8th grade. I went with my youth pastor’s daughter (who was in 10th grade) and her friend who was the same age. I was fairly close with the family of that particular youth pastor. I remember I really looked up to all of them. I was also more than slightly intimidated by them. Not in a bad way, just in a “I really think you’re awesome, and I don’t want you to think I’m a loser” way.
During one of the break times, the three of us were walking around the school a bit. Well, the two of them were walking, and I was trailing awkwardly behind.
“Why are you walking behind us?” my youth pastors daughter asked. My answer was probably something awkward. I didn’t wanna interrupt them or anything. Then she told me to walk with them, not behind them. That was probably one of the first (and only) times I really felt genuinely included during an activity my youth group did.
Other random memories from that weekend that still stick with me:
1) There was a skit about God’s mercy and forgiving nature. One person was walking around on the stage, with a bag of garbage. The other told them that God could forgive them, and they wouldn’t have to hold on to their garbage anymore. The garbage holder said “yeah, okay.” After putting their garbage on the ground, the garbage-holder said something along the lines of “wait, I need to grab something.” She pulled a mason’s jar full of mud out of the garbage bag, then spent a few minutes walking around and holding onto it. Then the other individual said “God can take that for you too, if you let him.” Sometimes I think of this in my reflections on life. Sometimes I feel like the garbage holder — refusing to let go of things I have done in the past. Wanting to hold on to my mistakes, and continuously take ownership of them. I forget that I do not have to live with that. I can let that go. It’s hard sometimes.
2) The band Thru The Roof. I linked to their website above in this post. They were an INCREDIBLE band to see live. Probably one of the first bands I ever remember seeing live. I was so jealous of my youth pastors daughter for being able to buy the CD. I didn’t have any money, and wanted the CD so bad. They were signing pictures for free, so I got one. I still have it somewhere. I think. On their website they have all their music and such. I don’t think the band is still together, which is a shame. But seeing them play live was awesome. They put on a really good show and had awesome music that was both legit and thoughtful.
The purpose of my writing about these memories is this: I was once a student, looking up to some incredible role models – both peers, and leaders. Now I am in the role of the leader.
It is bizarre to be on the other side of the stage, as it were. I find myself trying to model the characteristics that my leaders exemplified. Sometimes I feel like I fall short. I may not be as patient or calm, but I have energy and passion. I have been through the youth group experience and I want the students to have a great time.
So. Yeah. Just thought I would share all this with you.