I’m in the van on the way home as I type this (thank you, God, for the brilliant inventors who gave us laptops and word processing programs!) and I’ve just had a tremendous two days with some pretty fantastic young people. My husband and I helped chaperone a Youth Group trip to the Dare 2 Share conference being held in Minneapolis, Minnesota this weekend.
Some of the young people in our group astounded me! They walked up to complete strangers in a Caribou Coffee and began asking questions in hopes of opening up a dialogue about spiritual things! The youth leader, my friend Connie, challenged two of the girls to speak to a guy who was standing at the back of the store – near where we were seated – while he waited to use the bathroom. So two of our young ladies took the plunge and spoke briefly with him. Then one of the young ladies took another friend and went to speak to other customers and both the employees. All told, there were four kids in our group involved in the impromptu, low-key experience and they spoke to five or six different individuals.
Their passion was challenging! One young lady in particular was so much fun to watch. She made a personal decision to become a Jesus follower at this same conference last year and her growth in just 12 months is exciting! She’s fired up and ready to reach her friends with the Gospel. She is actively seeking ways to grow and learn how to be more effective when sharing her faith. She and three other young ladies asked Youth Leader Connie if she would consider attending a training institute in Colorado this summer. This is an opportunity we learned about over the two day conference and when the teens were told to make eye contact with their youth leader if they were interested in attending the conference, four young ladies nearly gave themselves whiplash turning around to catch Connie’s eye. Now before those skeptics out there respond with, “Sure. Colorado is gorgeous – who wouldn’t want to spend a week there!” let me clarify. This would not be a sight-seeing trip. The event is meant to be a week of training for teens who REALLY want to learn how to effectively share their faith with those around them. Bonus – Colorado Christian University is offering three college credits for the experience as well!
They inspire me. The world would look at them and comment on how young and inexperienced they are. “Wiser” minds would suggest that they grow up a bit before doing anything crazy like trying to win their friends for Christ. But these four ladies want this! I know, I know. I said I was typing this on the way home so the emotional high of the weekend hasn’t worn off yet. But something in the way they talk about the opportunity has me convinced that they are intent on going.
I want that kind of passion. And their boldness! As I watched the young ladies boldly approaching total strangers to start conversations about things of a faith nature, I was struck by how much braver they are than I am in such situations.
A year ago, the first time this youth group went to Dare 2 Share, there were five teens and two adults. This year, we had 11 youth and three adults. Not bad growth in just a year. A year ago, we did not really have an established “youth ministry” in our church. There was something in the works and both hubby and I were excited to see plans come together (he is a former youth pastor, after all!) and the group officially started meeting this past fall. We started with about 6-8 regularly attending. Now it’s common to see 20 or so teenagers (not counting adults) each Wednesday. And our Wednesday “agenda” is fairly simple – we eat pizza, chat about our week then have a lesson. Not much in the way of flash or clever programming. But the Spirit is moving nonetheless! These kids are intense when discussing matters of faith and they aren’t afraid to ask difficult question! They are very definitely seeking to grow and increase their understanding and I’m thrilled to be a part of the whole process. I can’t wait to see what’s coming next!