August 17, 2006

On the Quest…

Filed under: beanquest — Brian @ 8:19 pm

I started this blog to track my progress on figuring out what my spiritual gift is, and what I’m supposed to do with it. After a little while of that, I decided to open it up to pretty much anything. Lately it’s been a lot of “anything” (for generous defintions of “a lot”) and very little of The Quest. Come to think of it, the last thing I posted about that was probably from spring soccer season.

So, here’s the next thing I’m going to try.

Our new-ish youth minister gave the sermon a couple weeks back. It was about preparing the next generation, and he had two main points: 1- the “next generation” (the teenagers) are all about “tolerance.” They don’t believe so much in “right and wrong” as “to each his own.” I see that too. Not only in the kids, but all over the place – not least in the way much of the conflict in the middle east is reported. I used to share that philosophy myself – up until around the autumn of 2001. I still do place a high value on tolerance, but I do believe that some ways are better than others, some are flat out wrong, and I haven’t yet met a human who’s flat out right.

His second point was that if we’re going to get through to the next generation, we have to connect with them. We have to be honest with them, and accepting of them. (See – “tolerance” ain’t all bad.) His example – a somewhat simplistic one – was of the kid wearing a baseball cap during sermon. Someone in the congregation told the youth minister that he should go tell that kid to take his hat off, because wearing it is disrespectful. He said “no way.” In this case, the reason was that this particular kid had been through some very rough times at home, and this was his first day in church – he finally chose to come. So, he wasn’t about to go tell that kid he wasn’t welcome the way he was. But, more generally, he described the rule that “hats indoors is disrepectful” as a kind of “generational difference.” The kid with the hat on doesn’t mean any disrepect by it, and belittling him for it isn’t going to make him feel accepted for who he is.

When he was done, and the post-sermon music starterd, he asked everyone to sit. Then asked for the people who are willing to be there for these kids – to be willing to get close to them and really do something for them – to stand up. I stood. So did Jennifer.

We e-mailed him last week to find out what we can do to get involved. His reply? Come over and let’s talk. We’ll meet with him soon to do that and see where we might fit.

I am nervous about this possibility. I resisted Christ for so long, and so recently accepted Him, that I’m not sure I’ll be a good example to hang around with these kids. They’d see right through any facade I might try to put up, so there’s no faking it. I haven’t read the whole Bible yet. I can’t answer any questions anyone might have about anything in there. Not critical or difficult questions, anyhow.

But maybe there’s something about a new person like me that’s worth listening to. Maybe there’s some 15-year old guy who needs to spend some time with a man who’s not his father more than he needs precise spiritual guidance. Maybe it’s as simple (and as difficult) as that.

I didn’t quite connect with the 6-year-old soccer players. Maybe there’s something I can do for the older kids.

We’ll find out.



  1. Quite cool! Go for it. As a ten year veteran of youth ministry, I can say without qualification that your self perception of a lack of qualficiations has a different name: humility. It is the thing you need most to build Christ centered relationships with students. You will realize that you need them more than they need you.

    I’m not sure how I feel about the sermon your youth guy preached… and if he was going to give an invitation like that during worship it should have been him who followed up instead of waiting around for you to do it… but if his challenge got you thinking about building yourself into the lives of young people, than more power to him. And to Him as well.

    Go for it.

    Comment by Jim — August 17, 2006 @ 9:03 pm

  2. Thanks for the encouragement, Jim. I’m sure that there will at least be something for me / us to try. Right now, I just don’t know anything about the youth group so I don’t know what the options are.

    About the sermon – you have a good point about who contacts who. One thing I didn’t mention: nearly everyone stood up – easily 600 people. I think he was hoping for fewer, actually…

    Comment by Brian — August 18, 2006 @ 6:32 am

  3. Brian, I think we previously had this conversation but it bears repeating: kids don’t care how much you know; they want to know how much you care. I don’t think any of them will come asking you how to apply Leviticus to their high school crises. In fact, I think that your being a relatively new and quite enthusiastic Christian will give you some credibility that folks who’ve been churched all their lives might not have.

    I second Jim’s “go for it”!

    Comment by Eric — August 18, 2006 @ 4:30 pm

  4. Yeah, Eric – now that you mention it, that sounds familiar. (but thanks for repeating it!)

    Our youth guy is on vacation this week, but I’ll grab him early next week and see what there is to see.

    Comment by Brian — August 18, 2006 @ 7:37 pm

  5. I have had many (one-way) conversations with my teens about the notion of tolerance (“to each his own”) vs. right and wrong. I feel like I’ve beaten my head against the wall. The former is a very strong force among their peers.

    I absolutely second/third Jim and Eric’s notion that being a relatively new Christian will help you relate to kids this age, not hurt you. In my experience, what teens need most is a non-parent adult who is willing to spend time listening to them and guiding them without “preaching.”

    Comment by Gwynne — August 19, 2006 @ 1:46 am

  6. I fourth all of these guys with the encouragement. I totally agree with Gwynne’s last paragraph too! I think that the main criteria is just that you are interested in them. You can’t go too far wrong that way. (oopsy totally paraphrased Eric – oh well!)

    Comment by Rachel — August 20, 2006 @ 1:42 am

  7. You guys are great – thanks for the encouragement!

    Comment by Brian — August 20, 2006 @ 8:12 am

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