Thursday, February 16, 2006

What do you say to a bunch of teenagers?

I am speaking at a youth camp in a few weeks. Friday through Monday, there will be both Christian and non Christian kids there. And the Question comes up what do I say?

It is easy enough to give my best sermons, practiced already, tried and true, but shouldn't it be more than just giving a decent talk? I was gonna tell my story, of faith, bullfighting, cage fighting, reposesing cars, and being a pastor to punk rockers, artists and gang members. Was gonna probably do my What Would Jesus really Do sermon. But what would you say to a group of teenagers?

The one thing I would like them to hear is what Jesus was like. The one thing I want them to know is how much Jesus loves them. The one thing I want to convey, is how pursuing Christ, is worth leaving everything else for.

But I think back when I was a teenager, hanging out with punks, chasing girls, doing some drugs (sorry mom), and what would I have needed to hear? Well, the truth is I needed someone to really embrace me, allow me to be part of their life, and show me Jesus everyday. I can't do that with 150 kids, I pray that the youth leaders and the families of these kids can.

Sometimes we need Jesus with skin on.

the rev


Rebecca said...

"...the truth is I needed someone to really embrace me, allow me to be part of their life, and show me Jesus everyday. I can't do that with 150 kids, I pray that the youth leaders and the families of these kids can."

I don't think that's entirely true, Rev - I think it is possible to embrace people. When I was a kid, and trying to figure out the faith stuff, and feeling really unloved, it was two books (one by Dave Andrews, one by Tim Costello) and a band (U2) that made me feel embraced - because in their words I could read/hear the cries of my own heart, and I realised I wasn't alone.

Sometimes that's all kids need to know - that they're not alone, and that God loves them, and that they're not loopy for asking the questions that they're asking, or being angry with the church...

Anonymous said...

Telling your story personifies the gospel...Your story relates to this age group better than the average. I know I was the most helped, inspired, envisioned by how God has worked in others....Don't you dare not tell what God has done for you..its what kids need to hear, and want to hear as well, of course they probably won't realise it until you open your mouth. The story is the are the message... [just my opinion] Phil B

Daniel said...

I agree with Phil B. You are part of a huge story that is as old as the creation itself. Your story (every detail of it) is yours to tell the world. Never underestimate the impact of your story and what God can do with it.

Ben said...

Everyone's different too...when I was 15 I was getting wasted every weekend at the Surf Lifesaving Club (yeh they saved you in the surf but screwed up your lives in the clubhouse! - in NZ that was!)

One of my mates invited me to go to a christian camp (YFC) called Summer Harvest, in the Bay of Islands - heaps of surfing and night rallies basically. I went without hesitation. On about the third night the speaker asked if anyone wanted to give their lives to Christ - I put my hand up, met with God and my life was totally changed!! 15years later I'm a Pastor.

Sometimes, people are just waiting to hear that God loves them and be given an invitation...I was.

Rebecca said... never ceases to amaze me how important it is to just tell your own story. We spend so much time talking about how we can be 'relevant', but I've always found that for me, the most powerful stories have been people sharing their lives (whether via a book, via song lyrics, or via a sermon)...and when people have asked me to justify my faith (usually in an obnoxiouis tone of voice!), the simple, honest answer tends to disarm and stun them - and then I am usually thanked for being so honest. :) So go for it Rev - just tell 'em your story!

Anonymous said...

IMO , teens think church, and by inference God, is boring. Tell your story, and show them Jesus - a person, a rebel/radical. Teens seek their own values system and rebellion/ going my own way is part of that. The Jesus who turns everything upside down ( 1st last etc, Good Samaritan etc) , the Jesus who rattles authority, the Jesus who turns religion inside out ( I course I call him Father :) ) - that, IMO , has teen appeal. My 2c worth

Kitty Cheng said...

"Sometimes we need Jesus with skin on." - That's so true!!

Anonymous said...

I think you have to be a bit cool - or different or most will never get past the 1st few minutes; immediate turn off for most teenagers. Get their attention 1st by being real - that, they'll relate to. Then you reach them by being honest and "walking the walk and talking the talk." And I think most people whether they are teenagers or adults want to hear how you screwed up and screwed up things you've done - then they don't feel like you're talking down to them or that some of the things they've done can't be rectified. good luck - lawdymama