“Seasons” – a T-Shirt Sunday Message

Posted: May 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

Before reading this post, I suggest you check out Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, which talks about the seasons of life, the good and the bad, the positive and the negative, the celebrations and the struggles.  When you think of life’s seasons, you naturally think of the long term.  With short term involvements and commitments, you only experience a snapshot of time. You don’t see a lot of change and you don’t go through the roller coaster of life.  The long term, on the other hand is where you experience the ebbs and flows, the changing seasons that come with living.  When I think of the long term and the seasons of life, I first think of family.  I also think of this youth ministry, because it has been going on for 25 years.  I took on leadership of this youth ministry in 1992.  Betsy joined in an official capacity a couple of years later, and Jenn joined us in 2005.  In these 25 years, we have truly experienced seasons.  In the beginning we had the task of inventing ourselves.  We tried things and failed, tried other things and failed, then hit on the formula that we still use today. We didn’t fall into the trap that many youth ministries fall into, being basically a play group that has a little bit of God thrown in.  We chose to do meaningful Bible study, we opted to have a serious commitment to missions and we expected regular attendance and participation.  We started this model with 4 kids. We called them our fab 4 (Lily, Laura, Craig and Ryan).  We’ve stayed true to that model since that time, and have fine-tuned as we went along.

In our 25 years of youth ministry we have definitely experienced some different seasons.  We started out with 4 kids and have had as many as 25. We don’t get too hung up on numbers.  Our feeling is that God will put people here who need to be here.  We have had years where everything just falls into place and other years when it seems that everything is a struggle.  We have celebrated achievements and milestones with some of our kids and we have walked with others through pain and loss.  We enjoy our special services and our weekly meetings and we experience the difficulties in doing all of the work that makes it all happen.  Our youth group is very much like a family.  We go through most of the negative things families go through all the while loving each other and savoring all of the positive moments.

Because, you see, with things that endure through time such as a family or a ministry that is in it for the long haul, there is something bigger than the seasons you go through.  There is something that transcends the ups and downs of life.  Something that is bigger than discouragement, stronger than failure.  Something that allows you to keep plugging away in spite of setbacks, that keeps you grounded when you feel that you can do no wrong. Satan loves it when we struggle.  He consistently points out whatever is troubling and won’t let us forget our failures or how much work is involved.  When things are going well he hopes that we take the credit rather than thanking God for what he is accomplishing through us.

We keep going in this ministry because there is a higher purpose.  With all of the negativity and drama kids face these days they need someone to show them that they will never face life alone.  They need to know that Jesus can help them rise above the negative messages.  They need to learn how to listen to God’s voice of truth.  We also keep going in this ministry because we are a big family.  We may go through the ups and downs of family life in our ministry, but we love the kids like our own.  As the Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians, “Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

And once you’re family, you’re always family. Over the years we have attended graduation parties, weddings and baby showers of former youth group members and there are many others we still keep in touch with.  That is incredibly special.

With all these things in mind, I’d like to give you a modern day scripture: the seasons of youth group.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the youth group heavens:

a time to be energetic and a time to fall into bed dog tired,

a time to read scriptures and a time to play the frozen t-shirt game,

a time to teach and a time to learn,

a time to ride the roller coaster and a time to refrain because you just ate ice cream,

a time to thank God for this ministry and a time to wonder what we ever did to deserve this torture,

a time to weep and a time to laugh (I didn’t need to change that one),

a time to contemplate and a time to rock out,

a time to make sure you have gathered all the kids and a time to wonder if leaving 1 or 2 behind is really such a bad idea,

a time to talk about great spiritual truths and a time to just ask how things are going at school,

a time to call parents because the multiple notes we sent home all disappeared,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing (because there is a fine line between an embrace and a strangle hold),

a time to lift our kids up and a time to be lifted up by them,

a time to say hello to a nervous 7th grader and a time to say goodbye to an amazing young man or woman,

a time when you realize that there are no goodbyes because they’re family forever.

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