We live life within a certain set of values, but seldom do we actually think about our values. When we plan activities, particularly at this early stage of our ministry, we try to determine not only the details of the event but also the reasons (values) behind the whole activity. Each time we ask the teens to get together in some way there has been a reason in our minds, and we would not have the activity if it were not for the good of the teen and our church.
With that in mind, we have had several fun and productive activities already, and we appreciate the parents’ help in encouraging their teens to go along with us! While we constantly check and double check our reasons and values, we realize that we are also working with several different families, each of which has its own set of values. We certainly consider those values important, but we will challenge a teen to view a youth activity FAR more importantly than almost any other silliness they could be doing–homework, hanging out with friends (these are the two biggest excuses we get even for missing church!), watching TV, etc. When our reasons clash with righteous and purposeful reasons I will concede, but most often the teen will be helped by the activity. Parents, refuse excuses and realize that maybe their spiritual lives could be enhanced by attending. Even IF our main purpose may be to simply have some fun and build our group, we are always looking for times to talk with them personally, challenge them as a group, get to know their goals and push them toward righteousness.
JULY – Camp
Our first big activity was when we got to go to camp Ironwood! I cannot think of a better activity to attend, and I hope we can take more and more as the years go on. I have already sensed some excitement in the group about next year’s camp, and just this week have determined that we will attend Week 6 when WCBC staff member Bryan Samms will be preaching! Even if no other activity is attended, plan now to send your teen to camp next summer! With Pastor Shettler preaching this year we saw LOTS of good decisions made, and as much as we’ve been able to check on everyone, most of the decisions are actually affecting the teens’ lives still today. That’s a great deal, and it’s far more spiritually helpful than band camp, football conditioning week, road trips and the like. Our 2011 church calendars will be presented in January and you will know the dates of camp (and all other activities) far enough in advance to make sure you do not unknowingly schedule a vacation during those dates.
AUGUST – Beach Bash
A couple weeks after camp we had our annual beach bash activity where we played sand games, roasted hot dogs and marshmallows, and watched the sun set over the ocean. While we did not have a devotional time, the activity was not without purpose. It was fun for everyone and a great way for us to get to know the teens a little better. With it being our first time out as their youth pastor, we appreciated the respect and obedience they’ve been trained to have! That means so much to us, and it is a huge stepping stone for life–understanding and obeying authorities even when you don’t even know them well. We again challenged them on the bus ride home to control their conversations and center them around the Lord.
SEPTEMBER – Youth Rally
Very seldom will any activity be more spiritually beneficial to a teen than going to hear preaching! When I was in the youth group I got around friends who liked preaching. When I got my own car and then later got my truck I would drive around listening to preaching. What could be better than some loud-mouthed, red-faced preacher telling me from the Bible how I need to live a cleaner, more Christian life?! Even today I listen to preaching on my iPhone all the time–when I’m out doing yard work, when I’m thinking through something along the same topic, and sometimes just for entertainment! That may seem strange to you, but if it does, ask yourself, “Self, why is that strange to me?” It could be strange because you’ve never really thought about it before. It could be strange for selfish reasons. Do you love the preaching of the Word of God? Youth rallies are wonderful times to get away for a day and enjoy time together around God’s Word. I have said it before and I’ll say it again–almost nothing else is more beneficial to a teen’s spiritual growth than hearing God’s Word preached. In fact, just this morning I listened to a message from Pastor Jim Shettler, and he reminded me of a principle that he had preached at camp this year: Spiritual Decisions + Spiritual Discipline = Spiritual Growth. When God’s Word is preached, the hearer is called to a time of decision. When those decisions are followed by the everyday disciplines of the Christian life, growth occurs. Parents, thank you for seeing the need for this activity, and for sending your teens. Do ALL you can to promote preaching within your household.
OCTOBER – Jr. High/Freshman Activity
Last week the Jr. Highers and the Freshmen battled it out at our house, and the finale of the night was when David got his dues and was tied to the basketball goal with toilet paper! Once again, it was a fun time with a smaller group as we crammed into our house and had a bunch of food and played some silly games. What a joy each of these teens is to be around, and we wish we could do something with them all the time! Their spirit of gratitude and their fun-loving personalities made it a memorable night for everyone. Parents, thank you for waiting around for us to get done! Your teens are a blessing and we thank you for once again allowing us some time with them.
We are doing as much as we can to simply get to know the teens at this stage, and we could not be happier with their spirits to grow and learn. While we have WAY more ambitions, goals and dreams for them than can be accomplished short-term, it’s a blessing to see them desire to be what God wants them to be. Foster that attitude and push them to do more for Him this school year!