Last Saturday we did a training seminar with Linda Staats from the Youth & Family Institute ( Nanette, Audrey, and I have, over the past few months, developed a great working friendship with Linda. She is helping to unify us as a team – the Faith Formation team at Peace. Well, this seminar was very informative and beneficial; so much so that I wish I had a video of it to show you. But unfortunately I don’t, so I will sum up the ministry implications for you in one inadequate sentence:

With the 4 keys in hand (you may possibly know those by now), develop some friendships with people of all ages, practice doing ministry together, model it for all people to see, and repeat.

That’s it (actually there is more to it, but this will hopefully do for the time being).

Ok, my intent in writing this is not to bore you, but to communicate a very important point; and one we (I) often overlook. That point? Friendship. Let me explain with an example from Saturday’s meeting.

We did this exercise. Ok, picture this (see Fig. 1 for visioning help). Four youth from our church, huddled behind me, the “Youth Director.” We’re all standing at the front of the room, together. Everyone else (30 people or so) are sitting at tables with wads of paper. On the paper were examples of “things that hurt kids;” drugs, alcohol, absent parents, peer pressure, etc. These 30 people were instructed to throw the wads of paper at us, and my job was to protect the kids. Guess what? It’s probably no surprise to you, but I failed. All of the kids got hit. I couldn’t block all the pieces of paper flying at us. Do you see where this is going yet?

After I failed, I was asked to pick some caring adults to help me out. Now we had a wall of protection (see Fig. 2).
Ok, now back to the point. Friendship. Do we work together to protect the youth that God has entrusted to us here at Peace Lutheran Church? As fathers & mothers, grandpas & grandmas, pastors & program directors, teachers, etc? Do the youth respect us as caring adults and value the relationship they have with us? Is authentic family ministry a priority in our church? If the answer to these questions is an honest YES, then wouldn’t that mean that we are friends? Question…do you reach out to the others in this church? Do you know what is going on in their lives? Their struggles? Their successes? Do you look for support from them? When I think of a friend, I think of those things. So, are we friends? Or do we just get a weekly dose of “church” and then head home?

As I said earlier, I think we often overlook friendship in the church. Sure, we have friends. We even participate and serve in various ministries of the church. Don’t get me wrong, those are all good things. But let me close with this question: Isn’t it easier to stand by and let others protect our youth? I mean after all, we are busy.

Well, if the answer to that question is yes, then our youth may be in danger of getting hit with a wad of paper. And that could hurt.

Friends. Won’t you make a new one this week at church?


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