Our youth ministry has it's fall kickoff tonight. Gotta admit, I'm always excited about kicking things off in the fall, but I'm super excited this year. I just have a real anticipation for what God is going to do and can't wait to be a part of it all. I have a real excitement about our plan for this fall and can't wait to see how God stretches me and our kids. It's also had me reflecting a bit.
The above picture is me my first year at Grace Community in 2002. As you can see, there were 13 kids in axis at that time. We met in a smelly ... and, yes, it literally smelled ... room in the basement of the church. I really didn't know much about youth ministry then and probably only know just a little bit more now, but I was always confident that we would be able to reach kids.
This next picture is one that was taken outside of a garage we met in for over a year. We were outgrowing the stinky basement room and needed to make a change, but weren't really sure what change to make. A couple that volunteered with axis came to me and said, "We could probably fit about 40 kids in our garage. Why don't we meet there?" I was like, "Well, uh, that's a 'great' idea ... not really thinking it would work." But, they went on to tell me that they would totally dry wall their garage, install heat, put down a carpet, and set up chairs every Wednesday. They also said they would supply some snacks. I think it was the snacks that sold me. :) So, this couple invested quite a bit of money in to making their garage a place where kids could be loved. It worked and we grew.
We eventually grew to LOVE the garage and also outgrew the garage. So, we began meeting at the New Paris elementary school every Wednesday and made the decision to divide middle school and high school. The school was Pastor Jim's idea. I wish I could take credit for it, but he shared some of his wisdom with me and just made the school look like the best idea. Thankfully, it was. We had a gym. We had a cafeteria for worship and teaching. We drug a ton of stuff in to that school every Wednesday, set it up, and then went at it. God moved, kids got saved, we had great discussions, and we grew.
We eventually built a new building as a church, which gave us, as a youth ministry, our OWN room ... FINALLY ... and it lasted for about 4 weeks and we realized this rooom was going to be too small. We'd never grow if we stayed there, so we moved to meeting in our gym. We'd play basketball or dodgeball or any other games you can think of ... and then we'd set up chairs, worship, and have our teaching time. The cool thing is, we continued to grow.
A little over a year ago we moved in to the Link. Lots of cool stuff in there ... a kickin' sound system, game systems & ipods (well, until they were stolen a few weeks ago) ... computers, a cafe ... really it's the type of place I've always dreamed of meeting in. We are still growing as a youth ministry and kids are still growing in their faith, but as I reflect on things ... God did the same cool stuff in a smelly basement room that He is doing in an amazing building like the Link. More and more I'm convinced that we just need to stick to what makes axis ... well ... axis. Partnering with the Holy Spirit to create an environment where kids see God. If we do that, no matter where we are at, kids will get saved ... kids will grow in their faith. I just believe with all of my heart that if we represent God well, kids will want to know Him ... whether it's in a garage, an elementary school, a gym, or in a place filled with so much cool stuff that people want to break in and take it.
So, I'm excited about this fall. I had some really cool stuff planned for tonight ... well ... I thought I had really cool stuff planned ... but some things fell through at the last minute. Plan B?? Maybe mine, but not God's. Can't wait to see how God moves tonight and I'm excited to be going with His plan.