There's been some conversation about the future of youth ministry.
What it looked like in the past, it's current state, the trends of the future.
I enjoy these conversations and contribute to them.
(There's always a big but somewhere, right?)
I woke up with a thought about what the future of youth ministry is (and what it has always been) and maybe there are moments when I forget this truth.
The future of youth ministry sits in your junior high Sunday school rooms.
It dwells with the youngest person in your care. It smells of body odor and
freshly squeezed juicy fruit.
The future of youth ministry depends on what we do with the middle schooler sitting in the chairs every weekend. I know this as I woke up thinking about a core group of kids who I connected with during my first year at Highland Park.
Caroline was in the 7th grade. So were all of her friends. I had wondered what they would be like when they graduated from high school. Now they are graduating. And what are they doing? They're working at camps serving teens with special needs. They're dedicating their undergraduate degrees to learning about social justice. They're finding ways to help children with their reading and their speech. They've become state champs in track & field, and given their summers to loving others. They, even before the diploma is in their hands, are asking me, "how can I help you in youth ministry." Alyssa told me how much she cares for the middle schoolers. Kyle is hooked, he's a sophomore. Somewhere along they line, they received the gift that comes in youth ministry and want to return it
It's why I'm a youth pastor.
It's why I said yes.
It's why I'll keep saying yes because I know that the work of God is to believe in the one He has sent.
Take a look at those seats, there sit the future of youth ministry.
They will be our volunteer leaders.
They will create things that we can't dream up.
They will risk more than we have.
They will ask hard questions.
They will take our place.
Look in the mirror.
Ask yourself, who am I investing in to do this (and more) in the next 7-10 years?
Then look into your youth group, to the smallest and "least of these" and continue to pour into them everything you've got.
Congratulations Class of 2012. You did it.