Youth Encouragement

Last night we held the Sunday’s Group round at the Vicarage. It is a smaller group of older young people, as they share hot chocolate, pancakes this week and the second part of Bruce Almighty. We purchased a video license from the Christian Copyright people and so we can use films in our evangelism, and Bruce Almighty
is a great film with themes of prayer, free-will, omnipotence and theodicy (better known as why do bad things happen to good people) with a few brilliant jokes thrown in (the Speaking the News in Tongues is my favourite:)

One of the most profound lines was:

God:        You can do anything you like … but you can’t mess with free will

Bruce:    Can I ask why?

God:       Yes you can! That’s what’s so beautiful about it!

Isn’t that just so brilliant! It was a typically random and chaotic evening, with a lot of laughter and a lot of random conversations going in all sorts of different directions.

Discussion about last week’s Friday’s happened, and I was encouraged by the support and comments of these young people, despite my crisis of confidence, they assured me that I did what needed to be done, and we all hoped that a lesson would have been learned.

We talked about Youth Evangelism, and what it might look like in this place. The consensus was to do with a grand’s worth of popcorn, but I suspect that there is a seed here, and the youth worship that we are planning for a Sunday night might indeed turn into something creative and missional here. It will also, clearly, involve food.

It ended with prayer. Real, live, honest prayer. You might cynically respond with “O well, we do that all the time!”, but this is an unchurched group, and some of these young people have no church background whatsoever. Many many times I have seen a group leader launch into prayer (without pausing – it must be an evangelical thing to pray without engaging either brain or soul – just let the words flow my friend…) and everyone else to figit, not listen, not focu, not pray. Prayer – real prayer – is a precious thing not done by rote, but a sincere, yearning reaching out towards the heart of God. It needs silence, stillness and a sense of the presence of God. This happened last night and it was touching. Deeply touching.

Since the Sunday’s group began in November, we have opened Scriptures and now we have prayed: sought God in our lives. I’m not after chalking up souls won for Jesus like so many evangelical groups (I tip my cynical hat towards a Diocesan Youth Officer in a nearby Diocese for this – it’s his poor example that makes me shudder in this regard) as if one prayer for salvation is all that makes a Christian, but this is about cultivating the fertile soil that the Gospel seed touches, ensuring that it will plant when the seed lands and will take firm root.

This is so encouraging: it highlights a gulf of difference between small and intimate youth discipleship and the large scale crowd-control that is demanded on a Friday. The latter is important, for it sets a tone. It is evangelism but based on the I came that you may have life – life in all it’s fullness principle and it is primary to make young people comfortable with the idea of an encounter with Christ, which needs to be followed up in smaller more intimate cells like the Sunday group.

My 13-year old told me that in their class of 30, only 2 of them will openly profess their faith (in anything), and get hassle for doing that. The harvest is plenty but the workers are few, and the effectiveness of this small group work is clear – the time and expense is worth it, juts for a moment of prayer like last night – worth more than rubies.