This is Danny Coyle’s second guest post (click here to see his post from last week on trust). Danny is an ATCK who pastored TCKs and is now raising 2 TCKs of his own.
When I was growing up, my Dad would take me and my brothers on his mission trips. I never really enjoyed it when he asked because it meant spending time away from my youth group and my friends. There were times he forced me to go, however, and now I’m so glad he did.
In our youth group, we were constantly involved with ministries to beggars, the lost, the demonized, and the sick. Our youth pastor was not afraid to put us in uncomfortable situations.
In my family and my youth group, I got plenty of practice living out my faith. By the time I went to college, God had proven himself so many ways by using me. Not someone else. It was my hands, my mouth. This made the reality of God undeniable. How could I discredit the people that asked Jesus into their hearts because I said they needed him, or the demons that I helped cast out? I had seen the truth in action, and there was no way I could walk away from it.
When I pastored youth, we stayed in our youth group room. I was too conservative. I didn’t have time to plan outreaches, and I was too insecure to throw the kids into the deep end – like my parents and youth pastor did for me. I can’t speak from the place of “This worked for me.” I’m speaking from the place of “If there was one thing I wish I could have done differently…..”
I wish that I had done more to put kids in situations which required them to totally depend on God. Places where they had to prove him. I thought my teachings would be enough – but they weren’t. Teaching alone never can be.
Youth are supposed to be sent out. They are supposed to be sent out way before they go to college. We need to be sending them into their schools, into the streets, to be the ministers that God has already made them to be. Why? Because that’s where they prove Him for themselves.
Of course, there are many people who have turned away from God after he used them in incredible ways. This is not a magic formula to keep kids walking with Jesus. But I think it is the best thing we’ve got.
Throw your youth into the deep end and I’m sure you’ll find the pool filled with grace.