Everyday Life @ FPC
The best part of my week is from 12-1 PM on Wednesday. If you were to drive by the church building, you wouldn’t see me there. If you were to peek into the youth rooms upstairs above Lewis Hall, you’d not hear the laughter of young people, nor would you see me, guitar in hand, leading a folky version of Come Thou Fount. Sunday nights at 5:00 used to be our Youth-sacred-time, but in the timeless and ever-prescient words of Bob Dylan, “times, they are a changing.”
However, if on Wednesday at noon you drove by my front porch, you’d see me and a small group of young people chowing down nachos and burritos from our local watering hole — Go Burrito. Some things change, but Go Burrito, thank goodness, has not. I don’t think it would ever occur to our young people that the porch meals we’ve shared since August are a foretaste of the heavenly banquet to come, but I believe deep down into the marrow of my being that they are. It was the early church who chose eating together as one of its most elemental practices. Sure, on Wednesdays this fall the bread and wine may have been traded out for Cheerwine and queso, but nevertheless, the Spirit of God has encountered us in our conversations about life, school, virtual learning, work, girlfriends and boyfriends, video games, sports, and faith.
If youth ministry pre-pandemic was focused on big youth group gatherings, overnight lock-ins, and fun-filled ski trips, ministry in the pandemic has revealed that at its core, youth ministry is about meeting kids where they are. Strip away all the fun and games (which we still play), and what you find is a group of human beings hungry for community and thirsty for belonging. Ministry has extended beyond the porch, too. We’ve met God on the hiking
trails of the Uwharrie wilderness, at a drive- in movie in the courtyard, in our zoom bible studies, in handwritten birthday cards, and by the fire pit in my and pastor Lara’s backyard. This kind of ministry has been one not of quantity, but quality—as has been the new model of ministry during a global pandemic.
What have I learned? That our pre- pandemic fast-paced world may have caused me to miss how significant a long conversation with a young person can be. I’ve learned that young people are resilient beyond measure—though their world has been turned upside down, they still manage to laugh and play with reckless abandon. I’ve learned to trust that youth ministry has always been bigger and wider than the physical church building. This global crisis has been painful, but suffering can also be a wise teacher, and it may change the world of ministry forever.
So, if our world goes back to “normal,” what will I miss? I’ll miss catching up with kids in the middle of their week. I’ll miss my dog jumping also over them as they arrive on my porch. Though to be honest, I’ll not miss the post Go Burrito stomach-ache.