Sunday, May 17, 2015

Youth Sunday

The youth group began planning for Youth Sunday three weeks ago. I really wanted to provide as little input as possible, since it's not Youth Leader Sunday. The teens decided to focus on the church's newly adopted mission statement. I was relieved that the youth chose to write testimonials rather than come up with a skit. They picked all of the songs and scripture, wrote the sermon (five different testimonials) and prepared the children's sermon. That left me to take care of all the logistics, including 
  • create and make copies of the bulletin
  • prepare a photo slideshow to play before the service
  • create the powerpoint with song lyrics and response prayers
  • write transition prayers
  • compile everything into a packet for youth to use as a script if necessary
During our final (aka only) practice on Friday evening, I suggested we do something special for the offertory. After some brainstorming and scouting for materials, we came up with the idea to have the congregation write a specific thing they would do to bless someone else with God's love this week (part of our mission statement). We would invite the congregation to write it down on a post-it note during the offering, as a way of giving their time, talents, and resources. We would then ask them to come forward and place their post it note on a display board during the final hymn.

Everything went very smoothly during the actual service. Members of the youth led every prayer and/or testimonial, passed the offering plates, played music (piano, guitar, and flute), etc. I was very proud of their willingness to share their faith and lead the congregation. 

The church members were so receptive and encouraging. I had to hold back tears as I sat in the choir loft and watched dozens of people flock to the cross during the final hymn. It was very joyous to see so many written promises to share God's love. We received such complementary words after the service. 

Youth group will meet a few more times before the summer break, but I am so looking forward to having my Sunday afternoons back! Here are some of the activities I have organized and coordinated for the youth group this school year:

Weekly meetings every Sunday from 3-4 pm
Ice Cream Social
Assisted in Newell Back-to-School Carnival
Participated in CROP Walk
Compassion Experience
Campfire/ Hot Dog & Marshmallow Roast
Ice Skating
Room in the Inn (cooked dinner in Dec. and March)
Souper Bowl of Caring Offering 
Spiritual Enrichment Youth Group (5 sessions)
Created goodie bags for Ronald McDonald’s House residents
Movie Night with Robinson Presbyterian Youth
Attended Fame the Musical to support the actors/musicians
Stuffed and hid eggs for Easter Egg Hunt
Attended outdoor worship service at Reedy Creek
Volunteered at Second Harvest Food Bank
Completed 30 Hour Famine

And here are a few of my favorite photos from the past several months:

I cannot begin to count how many hours I have invested in youth group over the months. It is often a sore subject for Jesse and I since it is a very time consuming "job" without any compensation. There have been a few Sundays where only one or two youth showed up for youth group, and other times where I have spent an hour sitting in traffic and detours just to take a teenager home. In those moments, it's easy to feel like I'm wasting my time.  

Our closing hymn was:
I'm gonna live so God can use me 
anywhere, Lord, anytime
I'm gonna live so God can use me 
anywhere, Lord, anytime

Today was a much needed reminder that I am making a difference. I am giving these teenagers opportunities to serve others, enjoy fellowship, and discuss their faith. My time with the youth group may go overlooked or unappreciated, but that doesn't mean it isn't valuable and worthwhile. I live so God can use me, whether it's convienent or not. Today I was able to witness how God is using some very talented teenagers, too!

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