Saturday, June 20, 2009

Leave Room For Jesus

It's a tricksy thing for kids who want to date someone from their church youth group. If a teen is going to date anyone, though, someone from their youth group probably isn't a bad choice. You know that they're hopefully fond of Jesus, and you get to see them a lot and go on all the youth group trips and everything together. But it also makes your relationship like a reality TV show in that all the other kids in the youth group get to watch every step of the way. Everyone knows when things are bad and when things are good and everything in between, and they're also there to make keep things in check. Whenever a couple gets a little cozy in the church van on a trip, someone is bound to yell out, "Leave room for Jesus!" Some people find this exclamation annoying. I always thought it was fairly humorous. Probably because I've rarely been in a relationship.

I went to Jr. High church camp this last week. I'm going to be honest, it was a little rough for me. I love middle school kids and I think they're a lot of fun and can be really funny, and I think ministry to them is important, but I don't know if I'm wired for it quite as much as I am high school ministry. It's just much more difficult for me to feel like I'm relating to them. They don't carry on normal conversations, but run around in little packs yelling "Football....YEAH!" in people's faces. They would rather throw rocks at ants than participate in a discussion of that evening's sermon. And they interpret the statement "Alright guys, it's time to be quiet and go to sleep" as "Hey guys, you should all start yelling a bunch of silly voices for the next 20 minutes."

So it was somewhat of a rough week for me. I had a lot of fun, but I was definitely ready to go home come Friday. And at a number of times throughout the week, I thought, "This is pointless. They kids don't have any interest in anything related to Jesus, and nothing I say is getting through to them. All they're going to get from this week is the memory of sugar rushes and bug bites."

And, as usual when I have a bad attitude about things, God let me know that I'm really stupid. I was certain that the camp was going to prove fruitless. And then on Thursday night God did his thing. My family group was having our discussion time that evening, and we were asking kids what had impacted them from the week and what they were going to change when they get home and all that, and it was all pretty typical until one of the guys, obviously being very broken, said that he had found Jesus that night. Long story short, three of the kids in my group decided to be baptized. And it had absolutely nothing to do with me. I was a pretty crappy group leader. Luckily for those kids, the two other people that I led with did an awesome job pouring into them, and God was apparently working on their hearts during the week.

Every once in a while, I need a reminder that I'm not really in control. I think I am. Heck, I'm going to be a senior in Bible college. I know how to plan events and I know which discussion questions to ask and I know how to format devos and all of that. So I think that I can make life-change happen. But the truth of it is that all of my puny efforts are pathetic in themselves. It's not like a math formula, where worship song + funny story + Bible verse + object lesson = transformation. Actually, I guess if you were going to format how it really is, it would be much simpler looking: Jesus' work = transformation.

So I guess it's important for us to realize that we don't have to worry about everything when it comes to ministry. Our job is to bring what we have and let God take care of the rest. Not that we have a right to slack off and not do the best that we can. But even our best efforts are still insufficient. But thankfully, God fills in the gaps where we're lacking. He takes our meager offerings and does something incredible. And he took a week that I thought was a waste of time and changes lives. So as we minister, it's probably a good idea to leave a little room for Jesus.

Tomorrow would have been my grandmother's 80th birthday. She was one of the most genuine, kindest, most giving, and most humble people I have ever known. If you know someone like that, you should thank God and then thank them.

Happy summer.

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