Defy The Trend
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Seeing the ‘through line’

Many years ago, I took a weekend “course” through a local community college on mountain biking. We packed our bikes, camping equipment and everything else we needed and headed to northern Wisconsin.

I had no experience of mountain biking; consequently, I was terrified. When I, or anyone else for that matter, am terrified, I am hypersensitive to all the things in my way. I could only see the rocks, tree roots and fallen branches on the narrow trails we were riding.

After a morning of frustration, our instructors stopped to give us a piece of advice: “Look for the ‘through line,’” they said. “If you fixate on a rock, you’re going to hit the rock.” What tried to do then was fix your eyes on the CLEAR part of the path, rather than on the places where you were sure your tire was going to get caught. Mountain biking gets a lot easier if you do look for the ‘through line.’ But, it’s hard to give up the fear that drives your need to fixate on the problems in front of you.

It’s not a whole lot different in the church. I was at the Southeast Association of the Iowa Conference UCC Fall Meeting yesterday to lead a workshop. As we were gathering, I had a few typical conversations with folks about how frustrated they are about keeping young families, children and youth in their congregations. We began by fixating on the road blocks.

But, I invited them to having conversations that helped think about things in a different way. I asked them to their BEST stories they had about experiencing and/or doing youth ministry. They told their stories of the best Christian disciples they’d ever known. Finally, I asked them to finish the following sentence: “My dream for the church is …”

In these conversations, we certainly encountered the problems we still have, but we primarily celebrated what we did that was GOOD! Many people arrived at the conclusion that you shouldn’t wait for your youth group to be large enough or perfect enough before you do something. You do something with the people and the resources you have NOW.

So, what are your BEST stories of youth ministry? Who was the person who BEST lived out their faith? What is your DREAM for the church? Share them here!

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