Thursday, July 12, 2012

Flirting with Norma and Making Disciples

Norma wanted to flirt. She greeting our youth group by calling us cute. I told her I was married, but she could have the boy beside me who wore a cool hat. His name was Wesley. He was young enough to be her great grandson.
Wesley wears a cool hat and provides oversight. a way of preparing our students for Momentum Youth Conference--their annual, 5-day pep rally for Jesus--the youth leaders scheduled opportunities to live out the theme: UNSEEN. Jesus calls us to care for "the least of these" (Matt. 25). James defined "true religion" as caring for orphans and widows (James 1:27). So we took our students to a nursing home to play Bingo and flirt with Norma.

I'm admittedly divided on the role of so-called mountain top experiences for teenagers (read Disservice from Momentum 2010). I've been there. I've confessed my sins. I've made my commitments. I've lit candles to seal them in wax. I've also let the fire grow dim and sinned again. We all do. 

The spiritual high is bittersweet when we descend into the valley of daily habits and homework assignments.

What has helped me keep perspective this year is an idea from the book Almost Christian (Oxford, 2010). The author salutes "immersion experiences" (e.g., camps, retreats, missions trips, youth conferences) for teens, as long as parents and youth leaders adequately prepare and debrief. Dean writes, "[T]hese experiences are only as good as the guidance before and debriefing after" (pg. 153).
Most of the players use two cards to increase their odds of winning.
Guidance Before: Last night we played Bingo with fifteen residents of Grace Village. We met a Navy vet and a retired teacher. We watched one person drool, one fall asleep, and another cheat. We flirted with Norma and shouted "B-12" so the hard of hearing could discern it.
Caleb celebrates his birthday by giving to others.
Debriefing After: After we return from Momentum, we will feed the homeless. We will fill their plates, hear their stories, and tell them about Jesus. They will probably complain about the food.

Ongoing Conversations: Between these experiences, we continue to discuss how to engage with dropouts and losers, handicapped and handcuffed, outcasts and elderly. We showed them how Jesus made a life of it. We pray and hope they see.

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