back in 1976, i was part of a youth ministry where 15-20 high school kids…yeah, kids…went to a local nursing home every sunday to lead a worship service for the old folks that lived there.
every sunday these kids would come to sunday school and worship services at our church and then they would get organized and leave around 11:30. we had a couple of kids who could play guitar and they would lead singing. there were a group of kids who would sing a special song (like a choir). there was one kid who handled most of the preaching…although there were others who would do it. that kid ended up being a pastor in church!
this was their church. they really cared about those old folks. they knew them by name. they would sit with them and talk and learn their stories. going to the nursing home every week was way more important than anything else that happened on sundays!
nobody had to remind them to do it. they met together to plan their weekly programs. they were totally invested in it. no adults organized it for them. sheesh…the only thing the adult youth leaders did was help them with transportation, since many of the kids who were part of this ministry didn’t even drive!
this commitment lasted for a number of years. the older kids passed it on to younger kids. it was amazing.
when i look back on those days…and then compare it to now…i’m left with a lot of questions.
could we ever get a group of high school kids to do that now? what happened to our attitude to old people? why is it so difficult to get people to invest in things that move them outside their comfort zone? why does it seem like it is always asking too much to get people to think about the needs of others first?
i’m going to say this again…these were 15 and 16-year old kids who ran their own church! they pastored people and cared for their needs. they met together and set goals and planned programs and shared responsibilities…and didn’t need any adults to help them!
i wonder what we have done wrong in the church over the past 30 years that has helped created a culture of people who can’t (or won’t) assume responsibility for leadership in the church or compassionate ministry in the hearts and lives of people?
what has happened in the church that has cultivated a what-will-you-do-for-me attitude, instead of fostering a what-can-i-do-to-help-reach-and-serve-others attitude?
more importantly…what are we going to do change this atmosphere?
these are exciting times…