As many of you know, I had the privilege of hosting the Youth in Ministry Gathering at the Iowa Conference Annual Meeting last month. When I do youth events like this, I’m always blown away by how insightful and energetic young people can be when they are exposed to practices of faith in meaningful ways. This group did not disappoint me.
But, a few weeks before the event, our registration list could have easily been viewed as disappointing. For the longest time, only two people had registered. At the deadline, a few more brave souls came forward. In all, we had five youth and six adults. Even that could have been seen as a “failed” event that would warrant cancellation.
Instead, we moved forward with our small, but wonderful group. In our time together, we prayed, explored scripture, affirmed our baptism and celebrated Communion. We were all empowered to hear God’s call on our individual lives and in the wider community of the Iowa Conference. I learned everyone’s name and now know some details of their lives. If we’d been a much bigger group, I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t have happened in the span of only 24 hours.
After our short time together, the young people and their adult leaders then went off to participate in the meetings, worship and workshops that are part of our regular Annual Meeting. I admit that I was worried at this point that the young people would be terribly bored. But, they astounded me, as always. They spoke their minds in the workshops they attended; participated wholeheartedly in worship; and listened while business was conducted in the conference’s plenary sessions.
I don’t know about you, but I think this “failed” endeavor was pretty successful.
So, when you feel like the numbers of young participants in your church are dwindling, instead be grateful for the ones who are there and empower them to DO ministry and BE the church. I will guarantee that you will see God do amazing things in their (and your) lives.