Monday, July 30, 2007

    Back from Mission Trip

    I'm back from our weeklong youth mission trip to Fortworth, TX as part of our denomination's gathering called the general assembly. It was a hot week, but one in which much good was accomplished and our group experienced several positive breakthroughs.

    Some important things about youth ministry that I was reminded of repeatedly on this trip:

    1) Youth will surprise you. For all the bad press teenagers get, I still wouldn't trade this ministry with them for any other. Our young people demonstrated over and over this past week that they are serious about serving others, that they can think for themselves, that they do care about their spirituality, and that they aren't afraid to express their opinions on faith issues.

    2) Empower your adult leaders.
    I'm blessed to be working with a fine group of adult volunteers who, thankfully, are gifted in many ways that I am not. This devoted team of adults spent the week leading devotions with youth, setting an example with their excellent work ethic, driving endless miles, cooking meals, staying up to ungodly hours of the night, gently disciplining when necessary, and sharing their faith journeys. I couldn't, and wouldn't, do youth ministry without them as my partners.

    3) Dig Deeper.
    Youth are ready for far deeper theological discussion and relationship-building than we usually give them credit for. They get enough "fun and games" in the other areas of their lives. What they need from us is a chance to build significant relationships within a Christian community that goes beyond the superficial.

    4) Community over technology.
    Once again, we agreed on this trip to forbid the use of personal electronic devices while travelling. Youth and adults were free to offer up CDs to be played over the van sound system which meant we got a window into the different musical tastes in the group. In addition, there was great conversation all along the way.

    5) Monitor the drinking.
    While travelling, if youth scream at you to make a pit stop to go to the bathroom, don't let them also use the stop to buy another liter bottle of Coke or you are going to have to stop again 20 minutes down the road!
    (Photo above is of some of our group at the Water Gardens outside the Fort Worth Convention Center.)