Thursday, July 21, 2016

What's Next?

So you've been to the LCMC National Youth Gathering.

Now what?

Well, now it's your job to actually live like you experienced something. Live like you and your youth group have actually learned a few things, and what you learned might actually translate into how you live.

First thing. You need to debrief. Not in the car on the way home. And don't make it just some short three-minute "what did you take away from the week" share time. 

You and your youth group need to set aside time to really process and think of next steps. And it's best if you do it after a few days home, but not too long after. Do it while it's still fresh, but after being back home has settled in.

You might want to give yourself and those in the youth group time to think about things and give them something to think about before you get together. There's a great book called Neighborhood Mapping. The book invites churches (and Christians in general) to think about how they can be most effective in their local neighborhoods. In the book there is an emphasis on observing, listening, and befriending. In order for us to bring the good news to people around us, we need to first understand their needs, listen to them, and become part of their lives. We can’t just give people a nice “Bible bandage”—“God loves you and has a plan for your life.” The good news of Jesus must meet the needs of people in this world in a personal, relational way.

Here's an idea as you and your youth group begin to think through "taking home" what you learned and experienced at the gathering. First, give everyone something to chew on for a few days.

  • Given our theme this year, have them observe and listen to your community over the next few days after you get home. What are the needs of people, of their friends, of their schools or workplaces? 
  • What things already exist in your community that you can join up with to serve for the sake of the gospel? Are there new ideas you can dream up?
  • As you all do this, have everyone reflect on their story--about the path their lives have taken. What are the things they've already done or the passions God has given them? Who are the people they've known and the connections they have? 
  • Think about how these two things meet--observations about the needs in your community and the story of your lives. It doesn't have to be some ground-breaking idea or cost a lot of money. Sometimes the most effective ways to serve are simple.
Next, set a time to get together as a group and talk about this stuff. Do it within a week or so. Think about gathering someplace other than the church building. Maybe if you're the youth leader or pastor, do it at your house. Or a restaurant or a park. Make it an enjoyable evening of thinking, dreaming, and planning.

When you all gather, give ample time for everyone to share their thoughts and ideas about serving for the sake of the gospel, based on how their observations and listening to the community meet their passions and their story. Make it a goal to create a plan of action where you name how you can take actual steps to meet the needs you observe in your community, using the passions and ways God has wired everyone to work together. You can come up with things you all can do together, as well as help and encourage individuals to serve in ways that they can do as individuals. You can create encouragement partners or something to help individuals take practical steps to serve for the gospel.

Here are a couple passages to consider as part of this process.

Read Acts 17:16-31. You can have everyone read it on their own and think about it, or read it and discuss it as a group, or both. Here are a few things to think about as you read:

  • What does Paul first do in Athens before he says anything about Jesus or the gospel?
  • When Paul does begin to talk, how does he appeal to the people?

Another passage is in 1 Thessalonians 1:9-12.

  • From this passage, what can we learn about how Paul and his friends presented the gospel to the people of Thessalonika? How does this passage help you think about serving for the gospel?

Onward. Take the next step as God's Spirit leads you all.

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