Last night Chris and I went to see the movie “To Save a Life.” Created by a youth pastor, it tells the story of Jake, a stereotypical popular guy whose life begins to change when one of his old friends commits suicide on school grounds. This movie is real. Although it’s made by a Christian, it’s not corny, overly conservative or even idealistic. The youth pastor is not that cool – he’s just a regular youth pastor. The kids party for real. Jake is the beer pong champion among his friends. Jake swears in church (after all, he swore before he started going to church!), and he sleeps with his girlfriend. The youth group is real – some fakers, s0me super judgmental kids, and some real Christ-followers who are doing their best to live it out (one of these is a former cutter). The movie addresses the issues that teenagers are facing today, with wit and grace no less.
We were invited to see the movie as “caring adults.” A local organization, Linking Shields, hosted an event for nearly 700 kids to see the movie and play arcade games at Lincoln Square last week. Then, Linking Shileds invited adults who have a desire to invest in the lives of youth to see the movie as well. Afterward, a number of representatives from youth organizations described the services they offer and how we could get involved.
I was kind of overwhelmed. In the movie, Jake gets abandoned at a party when his girlfriend steals his truck. He drunk dials all his friends, but no one picks up. So he calls Chris (yep!), the youth pastor who had given Jake his card a couple nights before. Thus begins Jake’s transformation.
Here’s the thing: Chris and I are invested. We’re available. We care. We desperately want to make a difference in the lives of kids, and we’re doing what we know how to do, with the time we’re given, in order to make a difference. Our youth group doesn’t need more volunteers – it needs more kids.
Chris and I wish we had drunk kids calling us for a ride home!
There are a lot of opportunities out there, but we feel called to volunteer through our church. We could be mentors through Big Brothers Big Sisters (hello – I’ve got a connection!). We could lead a Young Life small group. We could take a bunch of kids to camp. Logistically, some of those things just won’t work because of our jobs. We can’t do an after school Bible study because we’re still working when school gets out. But mostly, we feel like we’re obeying a calling by volunteering through Eastgate.
What we do want, however, is for God to equip us to do those things in Spain, when we won’t have jobs. When ministry is our job. Maybe right now He’s not asking us to give more of our time to “scheduled volunteer youth activities.” Right now, He’s got us taking a Methods of Bible Study class, preparing for the oral doctrinal exam, and working with our own high school students. So, our prayer is for God to use what little time we can put into youth ministry to form relationships naturally. While we might not have time to lead a weekly small group, we do have time to text a kid an encouraging note a couple times a week, take him to coffee, or pick him up after a party.
Would you pray with us that God would put students in our lives naturally?