Relationships are key. One of the things we strive to do is connect with each other, knowing that whatever theology we learn is truly only valid when we are given the opportunities to put it into practice.
As a group, we love hanging out together. We think together, we play together, we eat together, we relax together, and we work together.
We do this in a number of different ways. The most obvious occurs in our regular gatherings, which happen on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings, both of which are very laid back and relaxed.
Sunday mornings are typically spent going through different theological topics. We discuss everything. There are no unwelcome questions nor are there topics which are off limits for discussion. We are not afraid to go deep, we are not afraid to confront things of which we are unsure, and we are okay not having fixed answers to all of our questions. The deep mysteries of our faith are what drive us to continually ask our questions, knowing that the questions we may find answers to only lead to more questions. We want to engage the mysteries of our faith as they take root inside of us, seeing them as not problems to be solved as we stand apart from or outside of them, but as the very things which involve each of us directly, sweeping us up into them and carrying us forward together.
Our kids work hard at school all week and the last thing they need on a Wednesday night is another lecture. Our Wednesday evenings are meant to be a respite from the week, a reset button of sorts that helps us refocus and get through the rest of our week together. This might mean Wednesdays are spent at Starbucks or playing games or talking through the week’s experiences. Rarely do two Wednesday nights look the same.
On days off from school, we do our best to meet up for either breakfast (not too early, of course) or lunch. We have a monthly get together, typically on the third Sunday evening of the month, where we spend time together eating and doing different activities.
We also have the opportunity to take a yearly summer trip to Tegucigalpa, Honduras during which we spend time building houses for those in need, doing various projects at a few different orphanages, visiting hospitals, and feeding the hungry. Some of our youth have made this trip multiple times, others have been only once, and still others look forward to going at some point in the future.
We also have a yearly summer youth retreat, during which we spend even more time getting to know each other better.
Another very important thing to note here is that nothing we do is mandatory. True relationship cannot be held together using coercion or shame, thus we do not employ those things in order to get people in the doors and keep them there. We freely offer our times together as opportunities to engage and identify the Divine in our midst so that we can be given the eyes to find the Divine in every place, no matter where we might be. Our youth are no less faithful when they play in the band or play sports on a Sunday morning or Wednesday evening than they are when they are at any of our gatherings. Our youth are free, as they say, to move about the Kingdom.
Ultimately, the youth group belongs to our youth. While we work to lead them as best as we can, we also desire that our youth take ownership of their group. This means that we are open to their suggestions and even their direction as it relates to how the group functions. Periodically we will check in and ask questions in order to rethink how things are going. Want to change what Wednesday evenings look like? Let’s do it! Want to change what we talk about on Sunday mornings? Excellent! We want our youth to learn to discern times of change, engage the Spirit inside of them, and act according to what they hear. It is our job to be there as more seasoned traveling partners, sharing our wisdom with them, as we walk the same path together.