Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Believe highlights

On Friday, we all loaded up the van and set off for St. Louis. This would be the first time I'd ever been to St. Louis, so that was kinda cool. I got to see the Arch (not that impressive, it doesn't do anything :))

The drive to St. Louis was pretty uneventful - though we did run into some traffic once we got to St. Louis. But that was really expected. One thing I didn't like was that I had to drive. I would much rather sit in the back and get to interact with the students, but someone had to get us there. Here are some highlights.

1. the theme: This year's theme was Jesus. Plain and simple. Just Jesus. The five "take homes" were: Jesus is calling you! Jesus is calling you to something big! Jesus is calling you to bring what you have. Jesus is calling you to live passionately. Jesus is calling you to action.

2. Jesus is calling you to something big. This was a cool part of the weekend. Getting to talk with the students about how being a part of something big doesn't have to mean we have "big" parts. God uses us all (even the "small" parts) to make the whole thing work.

3. rooming with ms boys = fun, fun, fun. There is nothing like trying to get a roomful of middle school boys to settle down long enough to fall asleep. Needless to say, this was probably the craziest I've been on a trip in a long time. We were laughing so hard, when I actually tried to sleep I just couldn't. (I think it will be something these guys will bring up for a long time whenever we talk about going on a trip.)

4. changes in adults. Sunday night after our youth meeting Amy mentioned that she noticed a change in one of the adults after the weekend. I think this weekend at Believe helped this youth coach get a new outlook/perspective on working with our group of middle schoolers. And I know I saw some areas of change in how I interact with them. They are hungry for something significant in their life. My prayer is that this weekend will help to propel us into a new stage of ministry.

5. talk with police. This was a first for me. I noticed one of the students had been "in the bathroom" for what seemed like an extended amount of time. Just about when I was going to go check on him, he came back. No big deal, right? We were sitting on the edge of a section, right near the entrance to the floor seating. Two of the local police came in and were standing around, then one of them walked over to me. He asked if my name was Mike. When I told him it was, he asked if I wouldn't mind stepping to the side so I could talk with them.

I got out to talk with them to find out that that "long bathroom" student had been in the bathroom when someone was throwing toilet paper on the ceiling. The student was washing some marker off of his arm and got in there while it was going on. But he didn't do anything to stop it or to go to another bathroom. The guys doing it had left and he was the only one left when the police got there. But when he saw the police the first words from his mouth were "I didn't do anything." Which of course just tells someone you are feeling guilty. The police didn't do anything, but wanted me to know and to talk to him about it. It turned out ok, but I'm not a huge fan of talking to the police while on a trip with the youth.

6. Dumb adults! This one upset me. I mean these are the adults who are supposed to be teaching the students about how to follow God. If that is your goal, then how does this activity help promote that. Here's what they did that bugged me. All of our sessions were in an arena, which meant (among other things) there was no food or drink allowed in the building. You know, they have their own overpriced stuff for you to buy. One of the times we were waiting to go in I noticed a group in front of me. The reason I noticed them was one of the adults, a lady in her late 30s or so, was asking one of the teens in her group to smuggle a bag of chips in. He had on cargo pants and thus his pockets would be big enough to get a bag of chips into. She had no problem going against this "no food" rule and asking one of the students to help her. She was even laughing about it with one of the other adult sponsors.

I don't know why she did it. I hope she took it out before going in (she could have because I didn't follow them the whole way in). I'm just frustrated at the mixed signals we can send students. On the one side we tell them that there are things Chrstians are called to follow and ways to live in the world. Then on the other side, you have a kid sneak in some chips because you don't want to pay $3 for a thing of nachos. Which is more important: setting the example or saving a few bucks?

7. Who is sitting in the "decision" seat? This was from one of the skits (which I wish I would have taped or could find online). Only one of us can sit in the decision seat; you or Jesus. Far too often, I want to sit on the seat with Him or push Him off. I have been trying to ask myself this question often.

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