It's a new year and youth is back! We are kicking off 2020 with a series about how transformation is a major part of the Christian life. In this first week we talked about how transformation starts by living into the new creation God is calling us to.
At the beginning of each year (and even decade) many of us take time to look back at where we have been, be honest about where we are now, and set plans and goals for where we want to go. Though this evaluation can happen at anytime there are certain moments where they are thrust into the forefront of our minds. At the the start of a year, when beginning a new job, when losing a job, at the beginning and ending of relationships, with the birth and/or death of a loved one. These in-between moments of change bring together an evaluation of past, assessment of present, and promise of what the future could hold all at once.
At the start of our discussion tonight students were asked to draw a line down the center of a paper and on the left side of the line write the word before, and on the right side of the line write the word after. We told them to think about a big change they have seen someone else go through and imagine that moment, or process, of change being the middle line. Make a list of what their life was like before and a list after on the appropriate side of the line.
Like many young people the responses were all over the place, from friendships changing because of people moving, hairstyles being different because of haircuts, and people who used to be gamers who aren't anymore for no apparent reason at all.
We then read from 2 Corinthians 5 where Paul is talking about the things that motivate his and Timothy's teaching, writing, and work. These verses talk about being compelled by the love of Christ to now live for Christ and join in the work of making all things new and good again. This ministry of reconciliation is only possible after experiencing it firsthand in our own lives.
Afterward we asked students to return to their paper and on the back of it do the same thing, but this time, instead of someone else, put themselves on the line. What does, or what could, your life look like after experiencing the new creation that comes from belonging to Christ.
a sample of responses.
"Everything was darkness, life is complicated, things always seem to turn bad, many bad things happen"
After "you have a happier life, even when things get darkness you know Jesus will find you and make it bright"
Before "I used to be caught up in what everyone else thought of me."
After "I realize that some opinions matter, but ultimately God sees me as loved"
"Not appreciate what I have." After
"You have forgiveness in you. Love. Patience, and appreciate everything through Christ."
I didn't see everyones paper, just the dozen or so that were left on the tables when everyone had left, and I don't know who wrote what, or why they wrote it, but the ones I did see left me inspired at the work that has already begun in them.
The year may be new, and we will continue to try new approaches to communicate God's love to young people. But our goal remains the same. Work to create a place for students to be themselves, where they can KNOW God and Christian community, where the can GROW in their faith, knowledge, and relationships with his people, and are challenged to GO into the world joined into the work of reconciliation.
We hope to do this by connecting students with adults who love who they are, and provide them opportunities to see who God is, how he sees them, and calls them into new life.
"...anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!"
As we continue into 2020 I hope you will consider joining this work, in prayer, in sharing, or even in person. We are always looking for adults who see the wonder of youth and know the impact a caring adult can have on the life of a young person. Join with us this year.