The Joy of Serving

The Joy of Serving

My new church does lots of things right. One of them is their emphasis on reaching out into their community. Today was one of 3 “Labor for Your Neighbor” Sundays for the year. The idea is for Sunday school classes to get out into the community and do service projects. I went with the senior high youth class to a local assisted living facility for senior adults with varying degrees of memory loss.

Interacting with those senior adults was a truly rewarding experience for the residence (I am guessing) and for the students. But the big joy for me was getting a chance to get to know the students. Serving together is one of the greatest ways to tear down walls and strengthen relationships in a group.

Today I was reminded again of the simple joy that comes when serving God like this. I know that there is something special that happens when Christians help others, but from time to time I forget and it is nice to be reminded.

A Fresh Start at Storytelling

A Fresh Start at Storytelling

I know I haven’t been writing lately, but two weeks at my me job and I am still trying to figure out where all of the rooms are and how to get to the sanctuary without going through the basement. As I am trying to get my head around all of the traditions, meetings, expectations, and just general stuff that goes on at this new place I have been teaching some lessons that I have taught before. This actually makes me very excited because on Sunday nights I am storytelling my way through the Old Testament again.

I really think I am wired to teach this way. I like creative things and preaching and helping students who learn in different ways (and all of that is included in this study to some degree) but at my heart I like to be involved in discussion and lead others to look at and talk about the word of God in fresh ways.

I have talked about this before, but I am using the material provide by www.echothestory.com. It is an amazing resource full of ideas and lots of free material. If you haven’t checked it out (or purchased the great book “Shaped By Story“) then do yourself a favor and go spend some time there.

Stories are sort of at the heart of what is happening in our group right now. We are telling stories on Sunday night and on Wednesday night I am trying to tell some stories of my life. I am also having one student a week share a “testimony” or just a little talk about what God has been doing in her life. It has only been two weeks, but I have loved hearing their stories. It lets them tell their stories to their peers and also lets me in on some of what God was doing at this church before I got there.

Teenagers

Is there anything more wonderful and excruciatingly painful as working with teenagers. They are so full of life, so ready for new experiences that you can’t help but be excited when you spend time with them. At the same time trying to follow their moods, whims, and attitudes is just exhausting sometimes.

Tonight was a pretty good night for us. We had a large group of new people show up (mainly because of a boy) and one of our key leaders who has been out to be with her boyfriend brought him this week so we had a big crowd.

Of course that means that I had an activity planned that would work out better with a smaller group, but we pushed through and had some good, if ultimately shallow, discussion. Our quest to get students engaged with the text continued tonight and I think took another step forward. At least they are starting to realize that it is OK to be a part of the discussion. Now the next step is to get the discussion to go deeper.

Teaching Interaction

After my disappointing lesson last week, during which no one seemed to want to answer even the simplest of questions I am still wrestling with how best to approach tomorrow night. A large part of me wants to just go back to large group sermon style teaching with an occasional game or group activity thrown in. I will feel good about myself and I can justify it by saying that I am speaking in a language that the students understand.

But that really isn’t the case. I can put on a good show, but that doesn’t mean that the students really interact with the text. I can preach and hold their attention, but that doesn’t mean that they are wrestling with the truths presented, or really seeing them as truths at all.

Part of my role as a minister to these students is to not only teach them the Bible, but also teach them how to interact with the stories and principles they find there. We live in a world of information, the “facts” are always available on devices that we carry around in our pockets. These students don’t need more facts, they need to know how to take these facts and chew on them and digest them into their lives.

Of course, part of the issue is that we have a very young group of students right now and that group of students really isn’t used to thinking about the Bible in anything other than concrete terms. So instead of getting frustrated with them because they can’t seem to engage in a discussion of the truth I am on a mission to try to teach them how to engage.

That means that instead of retreating back to what I feel is a safe, easy, feel good for me type of sermon-lesson I have to get back into what these students really need and that is a deep internal understanding of the truths of God. And while I know that they won’t achieve that while they are in my ministry (I don’t even think I have achieved that yet), I know that part of what I can do is give them the tools to begin ingesting the word of God.

Of course, I’m not exactly sure what that looks like. It is going to take some trial and error on my part, but I know I want to try.

This week my big focus is going to be just on getting people talking, whether it be about the Bible or anything else. Our group size is such that I should be able to do much of this in our large group setting. I am going to play a few games, work on a few case studies, and do some old improve type thinking exercises to try to get people at least used to looking for new truths. I am praying that this will at least get things started down the right path.

Lego Ideas

I want to have a huge lego building event at my church where teams of students work together to transform our youth room into a habitable lego dwelling, at least for a few days. I have many students with piles of legos from their younger days, so getting the blocks isn’t a problem.

Here is where I need some help. How do I get all of the blocks back to the rightful owners? I need a simple, fast way to identify all of the blocks, who they belong to, and an efficient way of getting them back to their owner. I have pondered this for a couple of days and my best solution so far is just to sell all of the blocks at a yard sell and divide the money according to percents of blocks placed in the pile.

Any better suggestions than that?

 

UPDATE: I never did figure out a good way to seperate the blocks so I just got one guy with an abundance of bricks to bring them. Then we just did an activity with those blocks. The activity was to build some sort of a protective structure and then I think we talked about the protection of God or something similar.