By Michele Fry
The youth class grew by three this school year. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but that’s a huge change for us. Our youth group, like many things at New Life, is small and cozy. We are the tiny houses of church bodies — simple, uncluttered, focused. Three new students boost our class of regulars to eight kids from sixth grade to tenth. Certain weeks could bring our class to 10, which is laughable to a mega church. But we’re embracing the advantages. We have been able to hop into a car and enjoy an outing such as Compassion Experience. Coordination was as easy as getting a mom with a mini-van to drive. In class we get to have intimate conversations, going a little deeper I think, because the kids are a circle of friends. They’ve known each other most of their lives.
Growing up with Christ
As their leader/teacher, I’ve known some of them since before they were born. I held them as babies. Now I’m trying to help them keep God at the forefront of their lives as they become young adults. I want them never feel denied pleasure because they’ve put Jesus first; I hope they will strive to have the character of Jesus and want to put Him first and find joy in it. Considering the power of the world, the temptations, this is a challenge. So it’s really cool when they get a lesson, and it’s the games or activities that usually help the most.
Their first two classes this season were about scheduling and priorities, in hopes that it also helps them at school. To make a point we tested their juggling skills — juggling school and home life … then tossing in the details. We won’t be running off to join the circus. And that helped make the point: Life can be like juggling four balls when you can’t actually keep two in the air.
Scheduling time with God
When asked what do you give up to get in one more thing, they are young enough that sleep was never the answer. I saw shrugs and heard mumbles, then handed them a daily schedule worksheet. They eagerly filled it in with classes, meals, and chores. It would be interesting to see how that schedule morphs over the school year, especially for the high schoolers. But right now, they can pretty easily make time for God, and because when you’re at church, Jesus is always the right answer, they remembered to put time with God on their schedules. They plan to pray or make gratitude lists. They may SOAP or do a daily devotional (several have the book Jesus Calling).
I know it will be no easier for them than it is for adults. But I hope they got the point that God is not the ball you put down. And if you drop Him, you might make Him sad, but you won’t break Him, so pick Him back up. Spend time with God. It’s what creates a cozy, friendly relationship, one better even than what I hope we will enjoy in our youth group.