October 17, 2017
Maybe all of the youth leaders out there feel this way, but I think I have the best students. This past summer, I challenged our high schoolers to try something new and they took me up on it: they went on a short-term mission trip to Philadelphia, with expectations that were shattered as they quickly fell in love with the City of Brotherly Love. They sat down and shared a meal and conversation with people they would have otherwise walked right past. They had opportunities to be the hands and feet of Jesus as he broke their hearts to be like his. I couldn’t have been more proud of them.
Sometimes these mission trips can fade into memories until the next one comes along. But last week I got a text message from a student that blew me away. They sent me their college admissions essay. It was so heartfelt and moving to read, months later, how our week in Philadelphia made a profound impact on their life. Someone they met at the rescue mission taught them a lesson in empathy and inspired them to think differently beyond just that trip. I am so thankful to have been a part of that week with this student and to know its impact hasn’t faded.
The week we came home from this trip, we started our “Empower Derry Youth” fundraiser. Our church family filled colorful envelopes with donations in order to allow our youth to have more of these experiences. We raised approximately $10,000 toward our future mission and faith development trips. This fall, 32 Derry Youth are attending their fall retreats and every one of them is going at a discounted cost thanks to the support of this fundraiser. Thank you for believing in our students and caring for them and their families in this way.
This past Sunday, our youth began making handmade cards in order to say "thank you" to the 100+ individuals and families who supported us. They produced cards on an assembly line while they sang songs at the top of their lungs. Keep your eyes out for your thank you card in the coming weeks. A lot of heart and a lot of fun went into making them for you!
October 9, 2017
In my first full-time youth ministry job in 2003, I would mail monthly calendars of all of our events to our students. I would also send home permission slips for those events and flyers they could share with friends. I would hang the calendars on a bulletin board in our youth room and encourage students to spread the word of our events to their friends by word of mouth in school.
This morning, I posted a picture on Instagram and Facebook at 9:30 am, and two hours later I had 15 youth signed up to spend their day off from school at the church for pizza and games. It amazes me how quickly social media can spread a message and I am thankful that the result of that message is some quality face to face time for our youth group family.
It’s easy for any of us, youth or adults, to zone out behind a screen and get sucked into any of the countless forms of social media available today. It’s also easy for us to blame social media for making us anti-social. However, I find it pretty cool that a simple post could bring out a bunch of youth with nothing to do on their day off from school without a lot of notice.
We had a lot of fun together today. We ordered pizza from Fenicci’s to support the Derry Discovery Days fundraiser and played two of our favorite youth group games together. The youth room was loud and full of laughter. What we did today wasn’t earth-shattering, but it made me happy that our youth care about each other enough to put down their devices and come hang out and eat pizza together. We made memories together today. This is youth ministry.