This week during Sunday school, we emphasized the need for a warm community instead of cool programs. The Fuller Youth Institute found that churches who were focused on being relational instead of being exceptional were growing more consistently. "Cool" programs and tons of available activities doesn't make a church a cut above the rest, it tends to leave them exhausted. Instead, we hope to find ways that we can offer less rigid structure and encourage more relational learning. Our youth group has done this since before I was even here! We have half an hour of fellowship time every week designed to let students get to know one another and their leaders better! Next week we are going to talk about how we can prioritize young people and families everywhere without making it seem awkward!
Youth group was a bit heavier than I intended for it to be. We have started to talk about some OT stories that people have probably heard if they were brought up in the church, but have probably never read and understood. Last week we talked about Esther and the reality of the fear she must have felt to stand up before the king. We talked about Haman and his arrogance, and the irony of Mordecai's honoring. It seemed to go very well and we received a lot of positive feedback! So I thought, "The book of Daniel would be perfect for something like this!" I may stand slightly corrected.
This week we talked about Daniel. Daniel would have been an upper class Jew who was stripped from his family at 18, and basically brainwashed into a Babylonian. Except he wasn't brainwashed, and neither were his friends Shadrach Meshach and Abednego (Those are their Babylonian names, but we are most familiar with them, so I will use them here :] ). Daniel and his friends are seen standing up to the culture they live in time and time again. When told to eat the royal diet, they ask to be fed vegetables instead. When told to bow to a statue the king erects, they don't.
What we see in these young people is an absolute priority on the faith they have. There is nothing that they value more! They have had their families stripped away, culture brainwashed, and still refuse to give up on their faith, even in the face of being hurled into a blazing furnace. The practical application I was going for was "Faith should be our number one priority." I think that what was heard was "You need to be ready to lay your life on the line for your faith RIGHT NOW" and that was a little much for some of our students. If your son or daughter came home late, its probably because we stayed a little later trying to dry some tears and calm some fears. While faith DOES need to be our number one priority, we do not need to live a life in fear that someday someone is going call our lives into question because of our love for Jesus. Too often we forget that the same God who spoke the world into existence from nothing, who raised up the Jewish people and cared for them throughout history, who exists outside of time itself is the same God who knows us by name and loves us dearly. So while we may need reminding of this fact, I promise to try and be a little more gentle in the future :)
Friday night is back on! At my house this week, and there will be pizza!
I'm Noah. I do High School things. Expect this page to update every Tuesday morning!