Our Youth Week celebration got underway in earnest today at the Aldersgate Campus of New Creation United Methodist Church in Chesapeake, Va., after last night’s opening session. And to say the energy level is high would be more than a bit of an understatement.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Youth Week is seven days of worship, teaching, serving, activities and much more for teenagers in this coastal Virginia community. The 100 or so kids who showed up today shared meals together, participated in small group discussions after both the morning and evening sessions, worshipped together, and in between spent a few hours at the beach just having a good time being awesome together.
My favorite part of every day at Youth Week, though, is the last activity of the day.
After I finish the evening teaching session, we invite the students to go into their groups and come up with some kind of creative response to what they have learned. It was a concept I introduced last year, roughly modeled on activities from the Walk to Emmaus weekend for adults.
Tonight we had poems, skits, and my personal favorite, a song set to the tune of the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Aire.” It is amazing to see what creative ideas these kids can prepare in a short 30 minutes. It’s obvious that they are not only invested in what we’re trying to teach, but that they desire to find ways to integrate the lessons they’re learning into the reality of their lives.
What really impresses me the most, though, is that they’re actually processing fairly weighty theology. I’m really not pulling any punches in trying to help them understand the importance of Jesus’ time and place in history in understanding why his life, death, and resurrection still matter today. I’ve always believed that teenagers not only are able to grasp deeper theological truths than we often give them credit for, but they really want them. You just have to find the right ways to communicate them.
It’s a mark of their postmodern age that they want to understand the historical and cultural context surrounding the stories from the Bible. They don’t want to just be told to believe something, they want to know why they should believe it. They want to know what is believable about it. And they want to know how to make it real in their lives.
Tomorrow we’ll be talking about Jesus’ Kingdom parables. We’re going to try to unpack the reality Jesus is trying to relate when he tells the stories of the wheat and weeds, the mustard seed and the yeast, and the hidden treasures of the Kingdom of God. For the next two days the kids will be involved in various mission and outreach projects in their community…actually putting Jesus’ Kingdom lessons to work in the real world.
Please continue to keep all the students, adult volunteers, parents, families, and this church in your prayers as this week progresses. I believe this is part of a calling to equip a generation to be the greatest ambassadors for the Kingdom of God the world has ever seen!