Tuesday, September 20, 2011

10 Things I Love About Youth Ministry

Hey, so I realized earlier this week that I've been kind of lame recently: I've been spending a lot of time feeling bad about myself and not being nearly as trustful of God as I should be. It seems like, even in the midst of amazing things happening around me, I've been really bad at praising God for the good things that are going on because I'm so focused on the things I'm still waiting for Him to deliver.

So I've decided that in order to be actively working against that spirit of unappreciativeness, I'm going to start blogging about things I really love in life! And where better to start than by writing about the top 10 things that I love most about youth ministry?! Definitely leave a comment, I'd love to hear about your experiences too! :)

1. Launch Parties! It's always so amazing at the start of a new year or semester, when everybody comes back and gathers together for the first youth meeting of the year. Our group at Emmaus has begun a little tradition of launching the year with an ice cream party. So we get to eat stupid amounts of dessert AND hang out with amazing people all night? Good deal, if you ask me!

2. Spontaneously Breaking Out Into Song! So I'm having tons of trouble, admittedly, with coming up with an order for these. I guess it's just because I love everything about youth so much. Anyways, our group tends to have a lot of spontaneous musical numbers... Mostly because I'm always breaking out into song, but it helps that we have lots of really cool teens who join in every time.

3. Costume Parties! I love dressing up. For those of you who don't know this, I'm a super theatrical person, so this one and number 2 are biiig items on my list of awesome activities. There's something so amazing about seeing everyone come in costume, able to express their creativity (or sometimes lack thereof) outwardly in a unique way :)

4. Retreats! Definitely a staple of our youth ministry, spending a weekend away with the leaders and teens is always a fantastically rewarding experience. So many intimate moments with God, so many bonding moments with one another, and so much delicious food.

5. Seeing Teens Grow Up! This is one of the ones that always breaks my heart- in the best ways. I've noticed that the longer you know and minister to a group of kids, the crazier it is for you when they're suddenly in high school or start growing facial hair or become taller than you. For me, this is a really significant thing, because I've been working with some of this generation's youth since they were 6 or 7 years old (under a different context, obviously), so when they start growing up it's always really amazing. Partly because I'm so proud of them, and partly because it's a constant reminder that I'm also getting older. Wonder how soon I'll start balding/going gray?

6. Leaders' Meetings! No matter what's happening with the youth, the leaders behind everything are always so great! It's amazing being surrounded by other people who are passionate about sharing the gospel with the next generation! Oftentimes I hear people talking about how you don't really choose your ministry team, and how there can be times when you have nothing in common with the team except for the ministry itself. I've noticed this doesn't tend to be true with our group! Maybe it's just because we're all so good at appreciating a variety of things, but I think it's because God called us together as like-minded Christians so we could work incredibly well together. That's not to say that everyone agrees on everything all the time and we don't argue, but even in those moments of friction we get along to amazingly well! And that's something I definitely appreciate :)

7. The Worship! There's something so amazing about seeing the next generation of believers worshipping God through song together! It's just really amazing being blessed to have the privilege of leading them in it on Friday nights! What's cooler is that some of them even help out from time to time with the leading, which brings me to the next item...

8. The Potential! I get super excited when I think of all the potential the teens have to do amazing things- not just in the future, but right now! It's awesome, because in our group there are so many teens who are incredibly gifted in so many different areas. We have talented musicians, actors, people with such hearts of servitude, compassion, etc, and it's just really amazing seeing all these spiritual giftings coming out and growing in them!

9. The Relationships! This can be taken many ways- I love watching the teens grow in their relationships with God. I also love building up relationships with them and with the other leaders and growing as a community. And I also really love watching all the drama that is guaranteed to play out between any group of teenagers when romantic relationships start developing within the group- it's like watching a soap opera, or an episode of Glee, only usually the conflict resolution is a LOT better and nobody's breaking out into song about it (except me).

10. Those Moments. The big moments. The small moments. Basically, the moments that are really significant for one reason or another. Whether it's a teen accepting the Lord into their heart for the first time, or someone saying something really brilliant and wise beyond their years during a discussion, there's so many cool moments in youth ministry that make me cry 'Toy Story 3' tears. The good kind of tears, about how beautiful God is and how cool it is when people grow up. Not the 'Bambi's Mom' tears, where you're just a puddle of sad.

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