My heart hurts

Tonight, we had another Wednesday Night Discussion group with the youth (every other week we get together to talk about current events/world issues).  After the first 15 minutes, my head hurt – so much information, so many topics, trying to follow conversation was near impossible.  Am I really that old already?!  It’s funny to hear them talk about how they just couldn’t live without their cell phone or myspace – i didn’t even have a cell phone until I was a junior and it was only used as a just in case when I got my license.

The official topic was immigration, but we got off on many tangents – drugs, fights, racism, DMB, American Idol, juggling, failing English, eagle scout projects, Moment of Truth, girlfriends, saying the pledge of allegiance  – the list really could go on and we were only there for a hour and 45 minutes.  But what I realized is that even though I only graduated from high school nine years ago, their world is so different than mine.  The mass communication, they’re constantly “on” texting, on myspace, on facebook – there is no “off”.  They witness fights daily at school.  There were some fights when I was in high school, but nothing like what they experience. 

Everything is so open – I am always amazed at what they share with us.  Like telling us about drinking, or saying WTF or BFE like it’s nothing, or about how someone got a certain nickname because they were giving head to a guy and threw up – are you kidding me?!  I NEVER would have talked about that or said those things in front of adults when I was a youth…I’m still a little uncomfortable typing it here.

It makes me sad in a way…there is no innocence, no carefreeness.  They have no real concept of the real world, but their world is too real.  over-sexualized, over-drugged, over-commercialized, over-violent, etc.  We talked about the video of the 8 girls beating up another girl and about the 3rd garde special needs class that conspired to kill their teacher.  I don’t know, maybe I was too sheltered, but things like this never entered my realm of being – in the 3rd grade all I cared about was The New Kids on the Block, Limited Too, getting my ears pierced, matching my scrunchy to my socks, and making friends because we had just moved to a new town.  What is it about our world that children and youth even have these ideas to conspire to beat up a girl who trash talked them, or to conspire to kill their teacher IN THE THIRD GRADE?!

How do you do youth ministry in this world?  I went to a workshop a month ago and we got this handout about where youth spend the hours in a week.  Most hours were spent sleeping, then school, then family and extra curricular activities, and WAY down at the bottom of the list was religious time – 2 hours a week, average!  How do youth leaders prepare them for this world with only 2 hours a week, if that?  I know part of it is equipping parents to be the primary faith educator.  But is it enough?  I know that part of it is giving the youth the tools to figure things out for themselves rather than just giving them the answers, so they can better know what they believe rather than just spouting out regurgitated answers and Bible verses.  But is it enough?  I know part of it is being present with them.  Listening, and trying not to be a prude or be visibly shocked when they share the details of their lives.  But is it enough?  I know part of it is loving them no matter what.  But is it enough?  I know part of it is being an example, a role model.  But is it enough? 

My hope is that the church is a place of refuge and strength in their world, a place where they know the love of God, a place where they can be themselves, a place where they feel accepted, a place where they can grow in the faith.  And I hope that they take all of that with them in all the other hours in the week when they are not at church.

I hope – I pray…is that enough?


One Response

  1. good post! it is a daunting task…and it makes me wonder what things will be like when our daughters are in high school…i want to protect this little girl so much already and she isn’t even born yet! i wonder what the adults who worked with us as youth thought of who we were and what our worlds were like compared to their’s at the same age?


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