I've had two months off between leaving Pensacola and moving to Lebanon. No work!
I've had time to (re)start rhythms/patterns in my life that consist of resting, noticing & offering thanks, prayer for others, listening for God's direction, attempting to love with generosity and blogging about some of the experiences.
Man, what a gift...
This past Sunday I started a new job. At a new church. With new teenagers and families. To get to know. To grow with. To love. To empower. To be light.
My plan is to continue with this slower rhythm that I started in these two months off.
I want to be intentional in this ministry. Take my time to get to know the youth and families. Figure out who they are and where God is already leading them.
I know the staff, families and youth are pretty excited about me getting here. I know there are a lot of expectations.
I already feel a pressure (I realize I may be putting this pressure on myself) to plan things and change things and get all the youth who haven't been in awhile to come back.
So here are some goals that I pray I am able to follow through on and communicate clearly with grace:
- I'm inviting myself over to all of the youth homes for dinner. Free dinner is always a good thing. Right?! But I also want to meet the entire family together if that is possible. To see how they interact. I realized in November at FUMC Pensacola that I hadn't done this intentionally until the last few months. Because of that there were some parents I didn't know or if I did know both the youth and parent - I hadn't spent time with them together.
- To create opportunities to meet with the youth in a public location to get to know them individually or in small groups. There will be some youth who don't have a parents who are involved or have divorced parents. I want to spend time with those youth too.
- To educate our congregation about what it means to be a relational ministry. I want to get to know the adults who are already involved and find ways to encourage them. I've started praying that new adults who love teenagers will take the risk and get involved with them. I also want to empower and train all adults so that they know what will be expected of them as they share Christ's love. Hopefully we will be start small groups in the fall so that every youth has a place to be heard and known and loved.
- To watch & see where our teenagers have passion and empower them.
- To change some things that have been done for awhile IF it's time. We aren't going to do something just because we always have or because an adult thinks we need to always do it. Every year we will add new personalities to our group (7th graders) and so every year we need to reevaluate what we are doing and make sure it fits us.
- To continue to get the teenagers plugged into the congregation in service and in worship. I love that the youth are included in the sanctuary choir! What a great way to create lasting relationships!
I'm so thankful for the conversations with my Nashville YMCP cohort over the past year. Because of them and the Sticky Faith curriculum - I feel like I continue to get a clearer picture of my purpose as a youth minister.
My prayer is that we are able to be a congregation that loves our teenagers as they are. Invite our teenagers to see what Jesus is already doing in their lives and in our church. And then ask them to consider what they are called to in response (Thanks, Jon for this last part!)