Tag Archives: youth

play

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Last night was fun. How many of our days begin that way? I often wonder. But last night was fun for me because it was our first youth group outing here in Nashville and we went and played FootGolf (It’s basically what it sounds like…golf played with a soccer ball with your feet). And it really was so much fun. Seeing thirty or so middle and high school students run around a golf course kicking and laughing and having a blast. And I was right there with them. For about two hours we weren’t worried about schedules or upcoming classes or responsibilities (and most of them weren’t even on their cell phones). We were just present with each other in the moment. Say what you will about teenagers and youth ministry, but when it comes to playing together we know how to be present in the moment.

It’s actually kind of funny. Over the years you hear different critiques about youth ministry and one of those that always seems to come down the pike is that youth ministry is all about playing. All they seem to do is look for ways to have fun together. Can I flip the coin a bit? One of my main critiques of my peers and those older than me in the church is sometimes this…they have no idea how to play anymore? When do they make time to play? I’m not talking about scheduled recreation or hobbies, but opportunities for belly laughing and goofing off and losing track of time as you find yourselves just being fully present in play with those around you.

In his letter to the Corinthian church Paul writes this amazing passage all about love. And nestled in the middle is this verse that most read through the lens of spiritual maturity, but I look at it a little differently. The verse goes like this, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.” – 1 Corinthians 13:11 Now I have the unique privilege of spending my working life around teens and my home life around kids even younger. It’s amazing to see the necessity of play in their lives. It puts them on equal footing, the expectations are understood and for the most part everyone is included. What if in speaking about love, Paul is referencing the loss of naiveté that is the heart of love. A love that doesn’t ask questions but includes everyone and draws them into a beautiful experience as one. You see, this is what play does. This is what so often we are missing as adults. So maybe today you need permission to…walk in the rain, jump in mud puddles, smell flowers, stop along the way, build sandcastles, watch the moon and stars come out, say hello to everyone, go barefoot, go on adventures, act silly, dance, fly kites, laugh and cry for the health of it, go wondering and wandering around, ride bicycles, draw and paint, fall down and get up again, talk with animals, stay up late for or even climb trees…in other words, play. Maybe this might be the way we see the Kingdom come crashing in on our lives once again.

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a little different

This past week I had the pleasure of getting to the be the speaker at a Senior High youth camp. Having been profoundly effected by my experiences at youth camp in my younger days I always look forward to the opportunity to share and be a part of students lives. Not only that, but being for the most part a kid inside I still enjoy the games, the late nights, and all the other goofiness that goes along with camp. But about mid-way through camp I noticed something that was a bit unsettling. You see, I belong to a tradition (The Church of the Nazarene), where if you want to do business (I suppose this is a campy way of saying it) with God then you respond by coming to the altar. And it was towards the middle of the week that I came to my wife discouraged because no one had been responding by coming to the altar. I felt as if I had put in the proper preparation for my sermons and I knew the camp was being covered in prayer, but still… Then my wife asked me a very pointed question; what are the counselors saying about their campers and your messages? “Well they said they have loved them. And that the students are responding during their small group time. And they are seeing great things.”. “Well maybe their altar time looks a little different than yours”, she replied.

For those of you who have not married a spouse wiser than you (women) I can’t tell you how amazing it is at times to get to feed off this insight. Maybe their altar time is a little different because they realize that the burden of the church and its’ mission isn’t meant to be carried by just one person. Maybe we do indeed have to learn to respond together and be accountable together if we are going to truly live into what God is calling us to be. In his letter to the church of Ephesus Paul writes, “In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” – Ephesians 2:21-22 In Christ we are one together…in Him we are being built up together to be a place where God’s Spirit lives.

I am not saying that there isn’t a place for us to come to God on our own and come clean before Him. But maybe there needs to be more places where we come together and do business with God as a group rather than just as individuals. That week at camp we talked about the image of God and how we were created to reflect the creator. And I highlighted the fact that the beautiful thing about it is that we can’t in and of ourselves reflect what God has in store for us…but maybe, we as the Church can come closer to living out God’s image as we all come together to respond to the world and its’ brokenness. I guess I just wasn’t ready for people to take those words to heart. May we respond as one to God’s Kingdom being brought to earth and may we come to an altar before God together to find Grace and mission.


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