How is it with YOUR soul?

27 02 2012

Three reasons that I am especially thankful for my Wesleyan heritage this Lenten season:

1. Connectionalism!!  (A big fancy word describing the polity of the United Methodist Church.)  Unlike a lot of Baptist or non-denominational churches, we Methodists are deeply connected through a (sometimes tedious) system of districts, conferences, and jurisdictions.  The youth workers in our district have really capitalized on this connection: we meet together monthly for lunch and fellowship, we plan crazy fun events together (like our lock-out last fall or the Mardi Gras parade last week!), and we’ve just started a Lenten Bible study together.  For the next six Thursdays, we are meeting in various churches for a brown-bag lunch and discussion of Richard Rohr’s book Wondrous Encounters: Scripture for Lent.

2. Diversity: Okay, we could still do better in this area.  But the 11 of us who got together last Thursday represented a variety of different backgrounds, and none of us is exactly the ‘typical’ youth minister (only one goatee in the whole bunch!)  In all seriousness, though, we are going to learn so much from each other!  The oldest in our group has been in full-time youth ministry for 22 years; the newest member, for just 26 days!  Some have kids, some have “other jobs,” some are working toward ordination, some are in school, some are single…no matter what issue we discuss, we are guaranteed to have a lot of different wisdom and perspectives to share.

art journal page

3. Small Group Heritage: John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, was a big believer in small groups.  He organized people into “bands” and “class meetings” for Scripture study and accountability.  Each small group was instructed to begin with the question, “How is it with your soul?”  Up until last week, I always found that question to be a little invasive, and rather difficult for an icebreaker!  But last Thursday, I realized what power this question has!  Our souls, we discovered, were tired, frazzled, excited, burned out, overwhelmed, and joyful.  As we responded to this simple question, we were able to understand each other on an much deeper level than we would have otherwise.  And the lovely thing about gathering together with other youth workers is: we get each other!  As each person shared, I looked around the room and saw the rest of us nodding our heads.  Whether or not we had been in that exact situation before, we understood…and thus were able to validate each other’s fears, questions, and vulnerabilities.

Often we think of Lent as a time of going into the desert, where it is dry and barren.  But we are discovering that we find God in that very same wilderness…so it can’t really be empty, can it?  Perhaps instead, Lent is a season of oasis and refreshment, in the midst of the deserts where we find ourselves! 

Another Weird Moment in Youth Ministry

24 03 2010

This afternoon, I arranged to have one of my youth counselors arrested.  And I couldn’t be more excited about it!

This isn’t what is sounds like, actually.  On Sunday night, we’re going to have a Progressive Worship Service that will trace the Stations of the Cross all over the city.  And I found out today that the city marshal goes to our church!  So he’s agreed to come out and arrest one of our youth counselors, which will be representative of Jesus’ arrest.  (Don’t worry — if this goes well, I will definitely be posting pictures!)

The weird thing was, as I explained to my mom, I really did feel a little bit like Judas must have as he conspired against his friend.  I was telling the marshal, “Her name is ……  She looks like …. And you can come arrest her at this time, in this place.”

Did I mention that I have the coolest job ever?