Sunday, June 17, 2012

A final Goal

Two Sundays ago I completed one of my last major goals for my YAV year, Youth Sunday.  While I work with youth a lot in Belfast, I don’t often do much with the Youth Group at Fortwilliam.  We only have 3 solid youth, one of whom isn’t particularly interested in coming to any sort of fellowship at all. This makes it quite difficult.  So at the beginning of my time here we decided not to hold Sunday night youth fellowship and that we would instead meet periodically for coffee or different events instead.  Looking back this may not have been the best decision but it definitely made sense at the time.  We only went out twice maybe three times my whole year.  The people in charge of “The Point” (the name of the Fortwilliam youth) all have quite busy lives and our focus switched to other things during the year, The Point fell to the wayside.  Around January, I realized my flaw and began trying to come up with ways to make the youth group at Fortwilliam come back to life so to speak.  Most of the ideas I came up with didn’t work.

The whole year, I worked with the 3 youth once a week when they left the second half of the service to join my bible class.  I wanted to start up a youth fellowship one night a week or once a month but with one of them saying they wouldn’t come and finding a time that would compliment the other two, it seemed impossible.  So I shifted my focus to trying to actually get them to come each Sunday to Bible class.  I made special classes and called them before to say, “Hey we really need you in Bible Class this morning. We’re going to be doing something special…” If they weren’t coming for a youth fellowship, I wanted them to at least be coming.  Developing a routine, establishing a youth presence in the church.  I did things like making an Exodus Board Game.  We were in the duller part of Exodus when God gives about a million rules and laws and talks to Moses for what seems like 8 million years.  So I put it in game form to keep attention. 

The Full game board I made

At the end, my meanest and maybe favorite space was, you are Moses. Go back to Start. You know, cause he didn't get to go to the promised land. 

Some other examples of what other spaces said.  The arrow was just to show the direction the board went and was just a safe place to sit. 

Before I even brought up the question of them doing a Youth Sunday I prepared them with the skills they would need to pull of a service.  We took a Sunday to talk about prayer.  I discussed with them different tactics for writing prayers and how to make them sound more formal.  We discussed how prayer could be a kind of poetry and art for God.  We then all wrote our own prayers and talked about what part of the prayers we enjoyed the most and could use in our own prayers in the future. 

By the time I asked if they would be interested in doing a Youth Service, I was pretty confident the answer would be yes.   The idea of doing some of the service was already in their heads. It was just a matter of taking it from one prayer to a little more.  Clearly since the service happened Sunday, they said yes.

It was a long journey and WAY more stressful to get the service to happen then I imagined.  I think most people considered me a little crazy for trying; I had 3 youth.  Most people didn’t see how I could really make a nice service with only three people.  These doubters just drove me to work even harder to ensure Youth Sunday would happen and WOULD be a success.  But finding a date was nearly impossible.  Everything seemed to get in the way.  For a while I thought I wasn’t going to be allowed to do it.   Picking a date and planning involved a lot of miscommunication and I have to admit quite a few tears on my part.  It was in general just really frustrating.  But eventually, we finally got a date set, with only a 2 week notice before before.  We used the Sunday before to finalize our question and plan.  We made the order of service and assigned different parts to each person.  We also agreed we would split the sermon with the youth doing some video parts and me doing the rest of the sermon.  The youth took some video footage interviewing the congregation after church on Sunday.   The interviewing of the congregation didn’t go as I thought it would but it DID get done.  A lot of people were not pleased to be caught off guard with a  deep question let alone filmed answering.  In hindsight I should have made an announcement to the church of what we were going to do rather then just getting the ok from the minister. But we did get what we needed so in the end no real harm done. 

The only time they could meet again was Saturday, the day before the service.  This made me nervous but also ended up being for the best because they got to practice for the service the next day.  It resulted in me staying up almost all night editing the film for the sermon but in the end was worth it. 

I ended up sitting up front to lead the whole service.  The only major part I spoke was the sermon, but I was there to introduce hymns, prayers, and what not.  And I have to say being in front of the church alone in the role of the minister wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. Maybe it was because I had to stay calm so the kids would also stay calm.  But it all went perfectly.  The youth were calm, they spoke slowly for the most part, and I wasn’t even really nervous when I got into the pulpit to preach.   I have to admit, my sermon wasn’t my favorite thing I ever wrote.  It felt a little, for a lack of better word, cheesy.  My focus for the youth service had been more on the youth and their part then mine.  However, I realize now this is me being a little overly critical of myself.   Everyone I have talked to said they loved the service and my sermon and they weren’t just saying it to be nice.  They meant it. 

People laughed and they even cried.  Seeing the youth do the service and knowing they picked a topic close to the hearts of the congregation really touched them.  The youth were proud of what they did.  They did the service because I asked if they would be willing.  But on Sunday morning they stood up because they wanted to and with pride in what they put together.  So without further ado, here are the videos the youth created for the sermon.  The first is how the sermon began, the second was in the middle of the sermon and the last was a reflection where people were invited to reflect on the topic.  Where do you find God?  So sit and watch. And when watching the last video maybe sit and think to yourself, where have you seen God lately? Where is he working in your life? If you actually sit and think, you’ll realize he’s there.  (really though watch the reflection to the end.  There’s a wee surprise at the end.)

1 comment:

  1. You seem like you could inspire anyone to do anything !