Today was Graduate Sunday at our church. As the youth leader, this is my fourth set of kids who are graduating out of youth group and headed to college group. Today also marked the last of the kids I started with in the youth group five years ago. As well, today marked the last time I will graduate kids out of the youth group. See, I’ve made the decision to move into another area of ministry with the end of this church year.
For years, I have had a desire to have an active ministry among women. Five years ago I put that on the back burner for a while, when God distinctly called me to move among the youth for a season. I didn’t realize how long that season would last, but here we are. At last I feel released by God to take another direction. And it’s a good thing. I’m getting too old to jump with these kids at concerts anymore!
My calling with the youth began in this manner: five years ago in the early fall, I was asked to help chaperon a group of kids going to see the drama, Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames. I wasn’t immediately enamored with the group. These kids were into the Goth “thing” and were wearing their black leather jackets, chains, black nail polish, and dog collars. Rough crowd–not interested.
I don’t know the exact moment it happened, but sometime during that evening, God placed within me a burning desire to reach out to these guys. By the invitation, when I looked at the young man beside me and asked him about his standing before God, and he replied that he wanted to be saved, I was hooked. I was madly in love with all of them. Now, how to be involved? I mulled that one over, and later that week asked the current youth leaders if I might sit in with them during a class. After a few weeks of that, I asked if they might “share” the kids with me–let me do Wednesday evenings and them continue to lead the kids on Sunday mornings.
And so it began, my love affair with the youth. It wasn’t easy. The kids at that time were rather jaded and mostly non-churched (invited by one member–the only member–of the youth group and brought to church on our van). They brought some bad habits with them to the church. Some of those behaviors could even be classified as dangerous. We spent much time discussing the Word of God, we went to ballgames, we went to concerts (after which walking was difficult for a few days!), and we started going to summer camp. My first year with the kids, we took six girls to camp. Last summer, our fourth year, we took 18 kids.
Last year we graduated six kids out of youth group into the college age group. They were–I think now–the heart of the group. After they left, the makeup of the group changed drastically. It was the last of my unchurched kids, and this year’s kids are all kids who have been in church all their lives. I find quite a difference in the style of teaching I must incorporate into leading them. I have also found that I am tired. I have run completely out of steam. And the passion I once had to reach these kids is growing cool. They deserve better than that. It is time for me to move on and offer them a change of leadership. I have given my guys five good years. Before God, I have done the best I could to point them to Him. They belong to Him, and He will see to it that the proper leader comes into their lives.
And now on to the women’s ministry!