and I know that I deserve your love
'cause there's nothing I'm not worthy of...
This is brave, this is proof
This is who I'm meant to be, this is me
Look out 'cause here I come
And I'm marching on to the beat I drum
I'm not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me
Two weekends ago at a Camp Agape board retreat, I got to talking with a woman from a congregation at which a friend of mine serves in youth ministry. This past November, this friend of mine gave birth to a baby boy, so naturally, I mentioned to the woman at the board retreat that I had just met him, calling him by name.
The woman looked puzzled.
I gave her a moment.
She came up blank.
I threw her a bone, adding that this child was my friend's newborn. The woman let out a sigh of relief. She stated that, though she was aware my friend had recently had her baby, she didn't know the baby's name because she really didn't really know my friend all that well. She went on to explain that because she has no children or teenagers in her home, she really had no interactions with my young friend.
This kinda bummed me out.
Though I spend a lot of time with youth in my role here at Good Shepherd, I could never imagine doing ministry in a way that distances me from the rest of the congregation. And I flat-out reject the idea of empty nesters or older adults disengaging from the youngest third of the congregation simply because they no longer have students of their own and "already did their time." If my wife and I ever have a child, these adults will be the people who will not only witness the baptism of our child but also make the promise to support and pray for them in their new life in Christ. I will hope my child is known not just as Andrew Buck's kid, but for who he or she is. Isn't that what we all hope for ourselves?
In two Sundays, twenty-six youth and adults from Good Shepherd will be returning from the Lutheran Youth Organization (LYO) Assembly weekend retreat in Greensboro having had a blast. All will leave the weekend physically tired. Many will leave spiritually rejuvenated. And some will leave wishing Good Shepherd could be a little more like LYO. I, nor should you, take offense to this - it's just the nature of these kind of weekends.
The music and worship-style are specifically geared toward teens.
Most everything throughout the weekend is student-led.
It has the potential of being relationally-intense.
At LYO, students are listened to, leave having felt "known," and are consistently encouraged to be their authentic selves. I know the latter will be true this time around because "This is Me" from the movie "The Greatest Showman" is on the worship song playlist. When this was brought to my attention, it felt like a stretch. However, after having witnessed the Sunday morning education "Generational Panels" for the past three weeks, I have learned how important this theme is for young people, as well as adults, in the Church. One of the questions asked of each of the generations is "What do you look for or value in a congregation?" The answer we kept hearing was "I feel welcome here" or "I value a warm congregation." One of our high school students elaborated last weekend, saying that, at Good Shepherd, they can be exactly who they were created to be and still be loved. They make no apologies.
Well done, Church. Let's keep it up!
My cross-generational dream for Good Shepherd is that
all students know this to be true. One day, weekends like LYO will feel less like a getaway from Good Shepherd, and more like an extension of this loving, caring community. We do a great job teaching our young people what "Jesus loves me, this I know" sounds like. Let's show them what it looks and feels like.
- Andrew Buck, Director of Cross-Generational Ministries