Jr. Highers vs. The Awkward Silence

This week at Jr. High camp, the theme is Finding Your Place in God’s Epic Story. Even though I worked at this camp for 8 years, this is my first time really being involved with the kids. For all of those years I worked in the kitchen or the bookstore. Now I am Camp Pastor. I give it capital letters because the thought has freaked me out a few times.

No more at any point than it did last night in the middle of chapel. It’s one thing to realize you have a gift for a particular thing and it’s another to begin the journey of using that gift. As you may know, there are a lot of things to learn and these lessons are often learned in the middle of making mistakes….

I wouldn’t call last night a mistake. Not at all. But have you ever sought to teach spiritual stuff to a group of Jr. Highers? Adults, even when bored, can usually be very easily coaxed into participating. They may look at their phone and yawn, but if you actually call on them, they will not be so rude as to ignore you or give you attitude. 12 and 13yr olds, on the other hand… Well, let’s just say there were a few with attitude last night. Bullying kids into participating is not my style, but it was also really getting to me to have kids with insolent facial expressions and resistant body language.

There were lots of kids listening and answering questions. I am pretty good at letting it be silent for longer than is comfortable and there are always those dear, sweet people who will give inane answers just to end the silence. Then there is the eager kid who answers so astutely but with things he may have gotten from The Davinci Code.

I really have no idea what the kids walked away with last night. Relief that it was over, questions to ask themselves, answers to question, a heightened dislike for chapel, a building hunger for what is next?

Within the topic for the week are themes for the days. So far it has been: God Wants You, and God Loves You. Tonight we will talk about how God changes us and then we will move into where we are in His story and then how we can share that story with others.

What I very often feel God calling me toward, in public, is a kind of throwing myself under the bus ministry. This is different than Bus Ministry from your childhood. Instead of going into the neighborhood and picking up needy kids for church, I get to be as vulnerable as possible in front of  a group of people and let them take away whatever they choose from the sharing. Sometimes this results in people being really moved toward a really loving God and sometimes the response involves comforting me because I’m clearly a woman with issues. My increasing desire is that people don’t see me at all, but come away having a bigger, more true picture of God and maybe even a stronger desire to encounter him.

Or they can give me a pat on the back and secretly wonder why someone gave me the microphone.

It helps me understand so well why God’s main words to me this year are that He loves me. Without my really believing that I think this would be impossible. As it is, I am just really grateful to be any part of what God is doing in the lives of others.

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