In an ironic twist of Providence, ever since things went sour with that small group of parents, the youth ministry has started to develop a lot of momentum. Several people and parents have kind of randomly come up to me and expressed their interest in helping at youth events - one of the goals I had for the new year. And I did an announcement in the main service last week since I was freed up from teaching one of the Sunday school classes, and have subsequently had 3 or 4 new kids come to class. When your talking about a group that averages around 20 or so, that's a significant jump. I think this is probably God's way of encouraging me after that rough spot. I really tried (though I frequently failed) to have a good, humble attitude about it, which I think went a long way to span the gap between me and those parents. But if nothing had come of it - if I had had to eat crow and saw no positive change, I probably would have become very discouraged and started looking for the exit. Now, though, I'm back to waiting in confusion.
On Sunday we talked about Luke 12:54-56, wherein Jesus criticizes the people for failing to "interpret this present time." From my point of view, the thing that most defines the "present time" of my kids is media in all its varied forms. Kids are never far from the constant blare of music, the drone of the TV, the internet, movies, etc. So we spent a long time analyzing what popular media says and is; not only the big messages, but the little ones that slip by unnoticed but not without effect. For instance, in Spiderman, the obvious message is "with great power comes great responsibility" but no one noticed the almost total absence of black people or that even while Mary Jane was working in a greasy diner, she still had perfect hair, makeup and an expensive trench-coat. So I challenged the kids to look for those messages, but also, in light of the 30 Hour Famine we're doing on Friday/Saturday, to fast from some media this week. Whatever thing they thought had too strong a hold on them or took too much of their time - for me, this is the internet. I love blogs and news sites and commentaries and tech sites and ministry sites and...the list goes on, as does the time I frequently waste surfing when I should be working. So this week, I am going to do my best to fast from the internet - only work-necessary stuff allowed, which means even this blog entry is wrong! If you see a really good article, though, or blog entry, please email the link to me so I can take a look at it next week (or the article itself, which I will print off and read in the evening - which isn't really violating my fast, is it?).
And please pray for my kids this weekend and the success of this event. And by success, I can only mean these kids hearing God whispering in their ears and taking hold of their hearts. On the fundraising side, we've already raised close to $1,000 for Worldvision's anti-hunger programs, which is many times more than I thought we would, so I already feel quite successful on that front. Though if anyone was interested in making a donation, just drop me an email. :)
Thank you for your prayers and I will "see" you all next week. God bless.