The adventure of hanging out with youth on a tropical island continues. I’m surprised at how many activities the youth ministry does with youth where no message is presented. For instance, in high school ministry we recently had a dodgeball night, which consisted of an hour and a half of playing dodgeball in the church to the sound of secular music being played so loud that it was difficult to talk to anyone there. When I was in youth ministry, I was used to dodgeball night meaning playing a game of dodgeball for twenty minutes as part of an organized Wednesday night program with worship and a message immediately following the game. While activities, like dodgeball night, may keep youth coming to events, I’m not sure it is as effective as it could be. For instance, the middle school ministry does a ton of fun activities with kids and gives the kids opportunities to come on Sunday morning to worship and hear a message and on Monday mornings for a short Bible Study (typically followed by a trip to the beach). The fun activities work well in attracting kids (the middle school ministry here boasts roughly 80 kids attending during the school year), however keeping those kids engaged, especially when they earn the freedom of a driver’s license in high school, is still a struggle for this youth ministry (only a small handful of seniors were present on a Sunday morning when they were called to the stage so that they could be celebrated). Seeing the issue here, I’ve been pondering the idea of what would happen if there was a more formal program in place to teach these kids the fundamentals of Christianity (I’m gaining excitement to begin researching in the fall how the catechumenate, an early church practice of helping people transition from secular society to membership within a church, may be somewhat present and could continue to be applied today in youth ministry).
I was encouraged this week to see three instances where high school kids were grappling more with the Bible. The first instance was a spur-of-the-moment Bible study held after a Crossfit session. While it was short, it got the kids thinking and engaging with Scripture. The second instance was on the Thursday night program. The middle school director spoke to high school students about freedom and the importance of going all the way rather than returning to their previous life. He was open with confronting the students with the numbers of those attending middle school ministries vs. those who graduated within the church. Talking with a few students afterwards, they all loved the message. The third instance was on Friday morning. I started an all girls Bible study with the promise of donuts for those who showed up. I got six girls to come and they all quickly agreed they wanted to study Proverbs. Originally I was a bit thrown off by them wanting to study Proverbs, but as we worked through ch. 1 that day, it was amazing to see how different things that had come up throughout the week, such as the message about freedom the night before, all were able to come together in this study. I’m looking forward to continuing this study and hoping to see further instances where the focus is on God as we hang out with the youth.
On a different note, I enjoyed going to see two movies with middle schoolers this week: Inside Out and Jurassic World. When going to the movies on Kauai, there is really only one place to go, a small theater (4 screens), which only accepts cash. I found it entertaining that the one Pixar movie that comes out during my time in Kauai has an opening short that is based on tropical islands. I also found it amusing that the line about Hawaiians ruining pizza got more laughs from the audience than the line about San Fransico ruining pizza (Inside Out). You can also tell that you are watching the movie on Kauai when after seeing Jurassic World you feel like you are driving on the island of the park (fortunately, one can tell by the numerous wild chickens on the island that no land animal is about to eat you).