The offices here at CIY this week are at their peak of activity. Summer staffers are getting to know each other and all of our brainstorming meetings from last October are finally being brought to life. It is exhilarating being in this atmosphere, knowing that as we ate lunch together today our paths would separate over thousands of miles across America.
I’m reminded of a highlight from last summer’s travels as we anxiously anticipate all the wide eyed students who will experience a Move high school event, Knowsweat service project or Engage trip very soon. I was speaking at one of our more jr high intentional Knowsweat service projects. This night we moved the entire room to a tight focus on a small center stage where the day’s activities would culminate with our nightly programming. It was Wednesday which is a double sided sword. If you have spent much time on student trips then you know some of the common patterns: Wednesday can be a major break through day in pushing through walls that kids have had up all week, exhaustion can start to set in; but more times that not it seem s to take about three days of retreat from the tyranny of our pop cultured driven world for kids to hear the voice of God speaking clearly. As a speaker and programmer who had poured into this evenings events my hopes were high.
The stand out moment happened about 7 minutes into my HIGHLY engaging talk that evening. With such a cosy room set up there was a bit more energy in the room between speaker and audience. I remember walking through a few rows and looking more kids in the eyes thinking we are all really tracking together in this moment. Then I saw it. I was mid sentence and almost completely lost my train of thought. Sure this kind of thing has happened to every person to publicly speak but it was more eventful this night for me due to two downright funny occurrences.
The first sticky point in this story is that because the way the room was set up with all of us so tightly knit together into the center of the room there was no hiding such a sight. In normal conditions most folks wouldn’t know and there would be no distraction at all. There we all were however, confronted with the reality of this moment that totally caught me off guard.
Secondly I just so happened to catch the eye of the youth worker in charge of this student simultaneously as I happened up on the whole scene. Because of her mirrored reaction to mine there was no way we could brush this over. It was going to be a total distraction of epic proportions.
As I energetically weaved from one point ready to land another I spun on my heal and right in front of me sprawled out over two and a half chairs was 8th grade boy unapologetically crashed during this intense moment. I know I said it, we have all had kids fall asleep on us! Unfortunately just as I clearly stopped, stunned at this picture the kid made a huge bear like gurgle, sighed like he was home tucked in bed and readjusted his position before falling back into an almost coma like sleep. Every student in the room instantly realized I was speechless from suppressing laughter while still trying to hold the moment I was in . . . whatever that was.
At that instant I recollected many conversations I’ve participated in that brought perspective to my immediate situation and the stark reality of what we do in youth ministry. We toil, plan, pray, communicate, promote, explain, and execute so many trips over the course of just one summer season. Sure, sometimes the light bulb moment for a kid actually happens during the special song on the night we think it will . . . but most of the time some freaky series of events unravels in such a way that we scratch our heads and wonder how in the world God used THAT to touch a kid. The comforting thing is that He will have His way no matter what. If you are like me; it’s good to hear things you already know but will most likely forget on the interstate when the air conditioning goes out . . . again
1. Even though he uses other goofy ways than what we thought he would, still plan well cause sometimes he goes conventional just to keep us honest
2. Get to know a kid’s story. You may not know that the most Spiritual thing happening in that kids life could be a nap in the middle of your sermon
3. Take some time to think back to a special trip you had in adolescence. Remember the moments that stuck with you the most?