I wrote this a year ago after some time with some former youth. I’m currently working on a sermon that brought it to mind and decided to share it again.
I’m starting my thirteenth year as a youth pastor at the same church. That is a really long time in youth ministry and a really long time as a youth pastor in the same church. I remember my current youth when they were mere babies and the first youth I had in my ministry are now having babies.
Over the thirteen years, I’ve shared countless moments with hundreds of teenagers. I honestly don’t have a number for you but I do have names. Names and faces; joys and sorrows.
It is important to remember the joys from the years. Those memories are life-giving and often help spur continued years of ministry. I recently experienced reunions with a couple of youth that had taken the Prodigal Son route and when they were ready to return home, I’m so grateful that I could help demonstrate God’s grace and love to them. I can’t capture in words how much joy that brought to my life to see them let go of baggage and grab hold of God again. It is worth it all to see them come Home, to see them shed the guilt, pain and burdens.
But I still remember the time when they “left”. When our relationship was broken or distant. And there lies some of the darkest moments for a youth pastor (and pastors and parents and pretty much any human that loves another human). Continue Reading…