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.
The Center for Youth Ministry Training (CYMT) recently received a $1.19MM grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., to fund the next phase of the Innovation Laboratory. The grant will enable CYMT to strengthen the Innovation Lab by building on what we learned from our original cohorts and tweaking our process and strategy for greater impact.
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