So with the summer long gone and with school having been going on for a few weeks now… We find ourselves in the heart of autumn.
Autumn brings about a lot of changes for some of us. The changing colours of falling leaves; central heating is turned on; it’s getting darker earlier; or some people finding themselves in new jobs; some that have started primary school/high school/college/university or bible school [yep, the latter is me!]; new transitions of saying goodbyes and saying hellos… Sometimes we don’t always know how to deal with transitions, but I shan’t go there, as I’ve blogged about that before.
But what I do want to blog about this time, is what’s going on in the land of iD, our youth group in the English side of the BCEC.
We recently had an influx of newbies that were of the age to be at iD, coming up from cantonese service sunday school. Don’t get me wrong, we love having newbies join! It’s always good stuff. But today, when we had a head count, we found there to be 34 of us in total! We had pretty much used up most of the chairs, and when we played our icebreaker game, it was, let’s say, interesting when we had to use the whole space!
Today, I finally realised something eye-opening.. maybe I’ve kind of known this, but it’s only just hit home… OK, I’ve been in youth groups [either as a youth, or as an adult serving in one] for nearly over half of my entire life [from there, I’m sure you can guesstimate my age!] But despite that, today, I realised something pretty epic. Let me explain further:
Terence was giving a talk to all 33 of us today. He shared a very entertaining story about his relationship with his then girlfriend [now wife]. He talked about how it all started, all the way up to him proposing [and how his popping the question over Japanese beef and fireworks, didn’t really go to plan… but it was such an epic story!] I could tell everyone [myself included!] were all attentively listening to him and we were all on the edge of our seats….
But the main point of his talk was about commitment. The questions which we all had to explore in groups, were “What are you committed to?” “How does that make you feel?”
In the group I was leading, most of the teens shared about their commitments, from learning piano which made them feel Asian; learning other instruments; or your typical extra curriculum things. Some of which they didn’t really choose to start initially, but later these commitments would metamorphose into a love-hate relationship. Or for some of them, sadly those commitments would discontinue.
But when we were done sharing those things. I realised something.
Here’s what hit me: all of us, not just those in my discussion group, but all of us at iD were committed to coming to iD.
I asked my group if they agreed. Some agreed, some shrugged and grunted [typical teenage answer!]
I asked them why they came to iD…. Some didn’t know what to say, but someone said “I have friends here…” “I like it…”
Asking if they came because their parents were downstairs at the Cantonese service. Some of them said “My parents are at home… I came here by myself…”
And the more I thought about it, the more I came to a consensus, these teens chose to come. They had a choice. And they came. Amazing. We don’t keep a register and they aren’t obligated to come. Even if so-and-so isn’t coming, they will still come.
Even if they have homework to do, or their parents tell them they need to do homework first before they come [yeh, I know these kids get their work done so they can come!] They still commit to coming, regardless.
As I went home after iD, I was still puzzling over why these teens would commit to coming on a weekly basis. Some of their parents were downstairs. Some not. Technically they could just sit in the Cantonese service. They could go to town and go shopping. or just stay downstairs and play video games. Why do they come? Some of these teens don’t have much connection to the church [as in, their parents don’t come to church, so these teens are what we call “unchurched”]. But yet, they still commit to coming!
The majority of the time, us leaders don’t really know what’s going on. The person in charge that day just plays by ear and decides to try and “wing it”. It’s all very uncertain, what goes on each week. A lot of relying on God to make things work. Some weeks the icebreaker game fails. And in more recent weeks, we were trying to glean from some discipleship material, trying to kindle some discussions and encourage the kids to go make disciples…. Only to realise that this was a bad idea, so we’ve had to axe that plan and go with some other material. Us leaders haven’t got a clue! [Some of us leaders aren’t very cool either, some of us are old or don’t know what CBA means….]
But these kids still commit to coming. And it’s so beautiful to see that they want to come. Sing worship songs. Play some [sometimes] lame icebreaker games. Listen to a talk. Have some small group discussions. Pray. And sometimes eat cake [if it’s someone’s birthday!] I realised that in a generation of technology, these teenagers, or should I say screenagers, still enjoy a real physical community. A church, so to speak, for the teens. A place where they feel like they belong. To be part of a group. A place where they have friends. A place where they can have a laugh. Or to stand next to Ansy and feel tall.
These teens still come. And I’m encouraged, because I realise God leads them to keep coming each week, and I realise that they’re all spiritually hungry. Some of these kids are hungry to go deeper in learning about Christ. They’re committing to a relationship with Christ. Or some of them are heading that way, getting closer. How cool is that?
These kids aren’t the only ones that are committed. It’s a privilege to be serving in a team of committed leaders. It’s beautiful to come face to face with very committed people, on both sides of the party. And it reminds me of how Christ is so committed to us too.
So while the teens are committing to coming every week, I am reminded that I need to be a leader that commits too. During the past summer, I heard a good sermon on being a good youth leader. The main take home point is that youths need a leader who, pardon my bluntness, gives a damn. A leader who gives a damn about their life. Committed to caring for them. [I know for me, I had a leader who committed to caring for me, which eventually led me to following Christ!]
So basically, I’ve realised many things today. But the biggest thing is commitment. These kids are committed to coming. Christ is committed to loving them and loving me. Am I committed to Christ and this ministry? With His strength and guidance, I will try to be.
Our youth ministry iD, meets every Sunday from 1pm to 2:30pm, in the upper room at the BCEC.
We welcome all teens from secondary school years 7 to 13.
We are looking for more mature christian leaders to serve in this ministry, particularly female leaders. If you are one, or you know of someone suitable, please let us know!