I live in Lake Wobegon, where all the men are good-looking, the women are strong, and the children above average. Or at least, that’s what you’d think if you just glanced in on a given Sunday morning.
To the common eye First Presbyterian Church Nashville may look like the perfect church. I grew up at this church and I now find myself in the daunting position of helping create a youth group worthy of my congregation. After I left Nashville for college I realized I grew up around ridiculously attractive, amazingly good, community-focused people. While my congregation may appear perfect, as each individual always tries to put his or her best face forward, I would contend they know their stuff, they know growing edges, and they are willing to push past them.
Our youth group sometimes projects this perfect air as well, always trying to be the best they can, even when they’re not. Then you have a frozen yogurt date with one of these seemingly perfect teenagers and see how broken they truly are.
A month or so ago, as I was creating a program called the Hospitable Pit Bulls (basically the welcome team for Sunday mornings), I contacted one such seemingly perfect girl. We’ll call her Amy.
As we sat and chatted about school, boys, and friends, she opened up about how she felt no one really knew her. How she felt like she was being pulled in all these different directions by friends she didn’t really have. She felt like she couldn’t relate to her parents or her siblings and that she was, to put a fine point on it, unknown and not exceedingly wanted.
My hope is that at First Presbyterian Church Amy can find a place where both of those things are true—where she is wanted and known. But more importantly, I hope my church is a place where she comes into contact with the only one who truly knows and loves us unconditionally: Jesus.
Amy attends Sunday School and goes to a weekly small group. Through these programs I hope she comes to know the peace that exists in the God of the Universe who loves her more than she will ever know or understand.
CYMT is proud to announce the expansion of our original initiative into Theology Together 2.0. CYMT aims to develop a curriculum to be used in local congregations and ministries. Taking what we have learned about engaging youth in deep theological reflection during missional experiences and embedding those processes into congregational youth ministries.
"I hope students come away from my courses with the ability to think more deeply, richly and theologically about their youth ministry practice. I think a lot of what happens in youth ministry happens unreflectively and can be deforming to young people, and my courses are intended to give students a theological framework for evaluating and reforming their youth ministry practice."
Of course, I want students to drink deeply from the academic readings, lectures and discussions, and I want them to be informed by the academics. But more than that, I want them to see that youth ministry is a calling of God, an important part of God’s mission in the world, one that should give them pride and evoke humility at the same time.