Sunday, November 23, 2008

National Youth Worker's Convention-Day 4

WARNING-it's a bit long.

Want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans…

Originally, I was going to skip today’s workshops/seminars, but ended up in Mark Oestreicher’s ‘Developing Your Own Curriculum’. We got to a point where those in the crowd asked him for some books he suggested on the issue of helping parents understand their teenager. And it evolved into a discussion about a difference many don’t seem to see in the church today-it transcends youth groups and permeates into our older and wiser members too.

I wish to throw out some of the major talking points or issues…
-There’s a difference between childish faith and child-like faith.
-Does God want us to change or grow? And what’s the difference?

Needless to say we strayed from our original topic or purpose of the seminar/workshop but it did produce some great discussions-getting into the dirty and messy parts of ministry.
So lets get to the first major talking point I mentioned. In today’s culture the youth are so inundated with preconceptions about self and how parents are just bringing them down and that there are parents who are ‘cooler’ than their parents because Susie Q and Joe Cool’s mom and dad let them do this…
But we dug deeper…we talked about how there are youth who come to our youth group who are open to change of perspective. About how they have been they’ve been unknowingly trained by their parents to be the way they are. Parents often reinforce the idea that going to church isn’t that important and that this whole God thing is just for show. One of the major examples is when a parent(s) drop off their child for Sunday School and say it’s important that they go, but they themselves don’t stick around. There’s a tendency for parents to say, but not do when it comes to the things they ‘stress’ as important. You see, the parents put too much emphasis on how the church or the school is supposed to be responsible for this or that, but they are the ones that make the true difference. They are the ones that make or break the deal on those important things.

So it’s no wonder that youth-as they get older grow to be so pessimistic. However, we can not miss the opportunity to help them develop as Christians. When a youth asks a question more often than not, they are expressing their doubts. And an answer-a real answer, could help them in their development of a new perspective.

As a Christian, regardless of your age…do you think that God wants you to change or grow? And do you know the difference? If you were to ask me, I think God wants us to grow.
I think God calls us to grow, but it requires a change. We’re too caught up in ourselves-how right we are and how others are wrong-we’re too busy and we lose focus of what’s truly important: having an open heart and an open mind to what God’s trying to tell you.

Are you flexible? Are you willing to be molded by God or are you asking God to bless your plans? Do you have a childish faith that can be too selfish or self-absorbed? Are you growing and making changes that benefit the Kingdom?

If you’re a parent, don’t ignore your youth’s cries for help. Take some time to talk to them, don’t settled for the ‘how was your day honey?’ ‘it was okay.’ routine…dig deeper and really ask like you care. If you’re too busy-then it’s time to make the time (for God and for family). It’s never too late you know…do you remember the Prodigal Son? He squandered his opportunity, but ended up getting another chance…God offers you that chance. He stands at the door and is knocking, but do you hear Him? Are you ignoring Him?

If you’re married…how’s your relationship? Do you have a movie night or a date night? If not, you better clear your schedule for one. And if you want to really grow-find more time…cards and flowers are nice, but nothing means more than your time. *Don’t worry, it’s something I need to keep working on too.

If you’re single take heart. God has plans for you (Jeremiah 29:11) and right now, you need to do all you can to make sure you stay connected and open to His words and direction for you. Perhaps now isn’t the time for you to be in a relationship, perhaps He needs you to do something else right now-like become a youth leader, maybe He wants you to pour your time and energy into furthering His Kingdom.

If you’re reading this…seek God and take a look around. God may be calling you to do something seriously ridiculous.

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