Last week I had the chance to spend a little while with our Wednesday night youth group. As I talked with our young people my mind went back to my own youth group experience. It’s been a long time since I was in a youth group as a participant, or even as a youth minister. But when I was with our young people I realized that what made my youth group experience so rich could do the same for our young people.
It’s been a while since I was in high school so you will believe that I don’t remember a single study or lesson that I was taught. What I do remember are the experiences that we had as a group. I remember youth beach trips where we shared communion by the ocean at Garden City Chapel near Myrtle Beach. I remember singing on a Youth Choir trip in Connecticut and New York City. I remember winter retreats to Ridgecrest and other Blue Ridge mountain venues. But what I remember most are people who loved us unconditionally. I am going to tell you more about one of them in a few weeks. In the meantime, I remember the youth chaperone who taught me to snow ski and another who took us whitewater rafting. What I remember most of all is how they loved us unconditionally.
That youth group has had an inordinate number of people who have been connected to churches as pastors and lay leaders. All of the ones I know have tried to model that unconditional love and encouragement for a future generation.
I say all this to say “thanks” to all of you who work with our young people. I am so happy that like those who worked with my group, you love our young people “just as they are!” For all of you who support Helen and Mark in their work, please know of the eternal impact you may be having without even knowing it!