I realize that this is the Sunday school answer here but....
it is the answer.
In ten years of youth ministry I'm finally starting to get it.
Reading, discovering, knowing, and sharing the Word of God in youth ministry is second to none. It changes our hearts, it brings depth to what we teach, it transforms our lives.
It started for me last year at the National Outreach Convention. I was wandering though a sea of "new and improved" in the exhibitors area. And honestly, I was feeling a little overwhelmed and a little tired of more new stuff. There are so many new and free ministry resources online that opening the emails, previewing the stuff, sorting through it all can be tiresome and gets me sidetracked from the plans God has given me specifically.
My husband knows I'm a marketers dream. Disney knows how to get me in one commercial. It's the same with ministry stuff. I'm usually and easy sell if something is packaged just right.
But lately, I'm not as interested. I'm trying to stay focused on what we're doing here on the homefront and following the direction of our collective creativity and the work of the Spirit at our church.
So, during my time wandering through the exhibitors at NOC I picked up very little. But what I did pick up is changing the way I do ministry. And maybe, more importantly, changing the way I live.
It's called The Story. It's the text of the Bible condensed into about 31 chapters. Chronologically moving through events from Genesis to Revelations--it reads like a novel. I picked up the Teen edition and was intrigued by the children's edition as well. Little did I know that God would be working on my heart to dive into God's Word on my own in 2011.
During one of our church services the day after Christmas, our pastors wife Mindy shared a journal entry from her Bible from awhile back. She thanked God for the experience of reading the Bible from cover to cover--finally at the age of 38. Through her tearful reading, I could see the joy and the peace she had that year.
I want that joy and that peace. I was a religion major, I went to seminary, I've been in full time pastoral ministry for ten years. And I have NEVER READ THE WHOLE BIBLE.
It was a much needed revelation and I decided to read the Biblw in 2011. With the help You Version's daily reading plan I started the journey. And it's been remarkable.
As I read, the impression to share this journey with my students became more obvious. And that's what we're doing this year. In 32 weeks, I will take our middle schoolers with me through the entire "story" of the Bible.
Already, we've seen fruit, and it's only week 2.
They're bringing their Bibles with them to church.
I'm hearing from parents.
I'm seeing our leaders with Bibles in their hands--and not just as an accessory.
I started thinking, "What if we treated the Word like we do our cell phones?"
I freak if I can't locate my phone for a few minutes. It's always with me, in my hand, pocket, bag, even strapped to me when I'm running.
How can I have that same presence in the Word that defines and guides us in the way of Christ?
Not only is the Bible connecting students with the Story of God but it's helping me with my relationships both in and outside the church. I pray more. I'm a better wife, a better friend, a better leader. And when I mess up, I handle it better and with a grace and a humility that seems hard to hold on to--it comes naturally when I'm living in the Word.
This stuff is self divulging and that's OK. Being honest about where we are on the path makes space for others to do the same. I'm looking forward to every day this year--a new discovery in God's Word and a new perspective on youth ministry that I thought I had but never really understood before.
I won't be praying the same prayers I've always prayed. I won't be thinking about the same go-to verses I've always quoted. I'll be sitting in the middle of the Story thinking about who it says God is, who it says I am, and how I'm meant to share it through my life and ministry.
Labels: Bible Reading, Brooklyn Lindsey, Highland Park Church, National Outreach Convention, Spiritual Formation, The Story, You Version