7.07.2010

Back From Challenge Camp

I just got back from a great youth ministry experience. Several seasons of my life converged in one evening and it was quite overwhelming. This was caused by the realization that I already knew many of the young people transitioning into jhi. I knew them as YOUNG kids though. I know their parents and older siblings that have already graduated from jhi and high school. It's fun to see entire families move through the ministry here.  In the previous post I talked about how our Children's pastor ivited me to a special event for the outgoing 6th graders. I drove out to Giddings Texas about an hour away with one of the leaders from our middle school team, Matthew. It's so fun talking about ministry and catching up with our leaders. He's been on vacation, working hard, and going to school full time so we haven't caught up in quite a while. Matthew is a fantastic relational leader in middle school and high school groups and is a tremendous support to me administratively. It was nice just to chat on the way there and on the way back.

Camp Tejas is amazing. Our youth ministry at church has been on the waiting list for this camp for quite some time, but it's always too full to find a week for us to enjoy it. The camp will be well worth the wait. I was so impressed. Speaking of impressed, I was blown away by how smoothly the teams moved in and out of the services with so many kids to take care of. Pastor Ken and his team do a tremendous job with organizing summer camps!

After their evening service, we took the kids transitioning out of the 5th grade and into our middle school ministry on a hay ride. I thought it was interesting that most of them thought we were going to try to scare them or leave them in the woods. It was so cute that they were showing that they still wanted to be taken care of. The hay-ride was a great chance to get to know the kids and laugh a lot. for 6th graders, they were so fun, so bright, and FUNNY! One girl kept pulling hey out of the stack and saying, "HEY!" as if to say hello. Brilliant!

At the end of the hey-ride we came to a clearing with a huge campfire in it. Pastor Ken talked about how important this week is in their lives and how important the next few years will be in their lives and that they can nail down a commitment that night to serve God. Then he gave the youth ministry a huge endorsement and tried to settle their fears about the unknown youth ministry transition. We sang some praise songs and then I had a chance to encourage our kids to care more about what God says about them than way people say about them. I tried to unpack that idea in light of some embarrassing examples from my journey through middle school. I'm not sure how much of the talk they will remember because the fire was so stinkin' cool, but we did connect.

The thing that blew me a way was Pastor Ken asking them to commit to attending our middle school service for a year and really endorsing me and the jhi ministry. I was overcome by this show of trust because those kids LOVE him. Something really good is cookin' at our church. Departments are communicating. Parents are getting involved. Leaders are stepping forward from the congregation to help out the youth ministry. I can't wait to see what happens!

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