play and conversation in community.
I've been pondering the value of summer youth group gatherings here and also some ideas about doing things differently here.
This past Sunday, we had our 2nd annual youth group bike ride to Lake Riley. It was hot - the temps would eventually reach about 98 degrees. There was much concern expressed about the trip from the parents. But we pressed on - here is a short summary of "the event" and some ponderings on what I saw/learned about the value of these events.
The low down on the trip - the kids bring their bikes to church. After worship (and after collecting permission slips, calming parent's fears for their children's safety and coordinating some of the adult volunteers) we leave for Riley Lake park. It's only about a 20 minute ride and we had a water break half way there. At the park we swim, have a cookout, play kickball, and then swim/hangout some more. This year we had 13 students and 10 volunteers....along with two 7 y.o.'s!
Ponderings and reflections on what I saw/learned:
These trips pump me up! Okay, I admit that I absolutely hate the planning. But on the day of the event and throughout the event itself - I am super psyched. I look forward so much to hanging out with our students as well as the adult volunteers. I love being able to just watch how kids interact (or don't).
God has blessed us with a very cool community of adults. You may have noticed that we had almost a 1:1 ratio of students to adults. Sometimes this could be stifling to a youth gathering. But our adult volunteers have such hearts for the kids - looking for chances to interact but also just letting the kids hang out and play. A truly intergenerational event.
Community forming - This day I saw our incoming 7th graders being folded into our tribe of kids at EPPC. They were welcomed and included....by other students as well as adults. It is so cool to see "the church" - from 7 y.o.'s to those of us over forty - having moments of "union with God and communion with each other" to borrow a phrase from Scot McKnight.
Play is an important part of a passionate ministry - biking, swimming, kick ball, water fights. I bet that Adam and Eve played hide and seek in the garden, even before they ate the apple. How can one not want to just play when immersed in God's creation and living in community with each other?
My biggest take-away of the day is that we as "the church", not just as a youth group, need to have opportunities for play and conversation - in community - allowing us to be real with one another and develop "deep spiritual friends" (Phil 2:2 Msg)
As I look at my ponderings over the past week - I have a new appreciation for creating events over the summer that nurture play/conversation. But I also believe it to be a prime opportunity to have volunteers and kids build relationships as well. Really is a both/and rather than an either/or. I'll keep pondering.....and keep listening......and keep watching.....as God is present and beckoning.....