I've been in youth ministry a long time. When going back to when I first started interning at my home church in Philly to today it would end up being ten years working with tomorrows future leaders. Youth ministry is probably one of the most challenging professions a person can choose however it is one of the most rewarding too.
I do not want to focus on all things that they didn't tell you in bible college, that will be for another day.
I want to focus on the past four years. I want to focus on Third Lane Youth.
Third Lane Youth 2007
(In case you ever wondered what TLY was all about)
I have been in a couple of different churches before I came to York First Assembly. The youth ministry we had in those churches grew and we had some great times. It wasn't until we launched TLY that the vision that I always had for youth min became a reality.
We had a live worship band with students and adults that eventually became totally student driven. (I love playing worship with my wife our team from TLY amazing times)
We had a thriving Fine Arts program (thanx to my wife) that focused on Human Videos, yeah its an AG thing...think acting out a song where drama meets cheerleading...sorta. The students we worked with were good...really good!
Fine Arts is a crazy beast for those who don't know what it is, its basically a talent driven program for students to use their talents and be judge on how well they do.
Think America's God Talent Meets American Idol and yeah...its pretty big deal in our denomination.
We made it to the National Level every year and that was great, but we never made it be about the awards and trips.
It was about ministry and discipleship.
We would take the students out to numerous churches and outreach events and the students made such an impact everywhere we went.
I always loved the development aspect of this creative tool, seeing students who would never be a part of something like this step out and make a difference. It never got old to me.
It wasn't that TLY was a youth group...it was more like a Youth Church, a church that felt like family.
And just like family we had our ups and downs, and in youth ministry not many pastors stick around long enough to press thru the drama and to start seeing the fruit.
I have never been a big event youth pastor. My heart has always been to raise future leaders in the church and in the world...(I guess VFCC made more of an impression on me than I thought, thanx Dr. Meyers) We ran TLY like a ministry school and the majority of our students in TLY went on to college especially to Bible College.
Third Lane Youth was always analogy to live life in the Spirit (live in the lane you can't see), to walk by faith and not by sight. It is interesting to me that after preaching about it for four years God would call me to plant and church and really practice what I preach and really step out in faith.
This past sunday the students organized a farewell for us. They made it about us. The impact we had. The good times we shared. It felt good, but honestly I just kept thinking Im so proud of this group of students to see how far they have come in their walk with God. They have been thru alot, we both have, but in the end we stood together in love and in faith.
I didn't realize that the things that made the biggest impression on them were not my sermons, how clever or fashionable I was, (although they did make a pretty funny video about how I dress, stay tuned I'll put that up soon)
It was about the little things I did.
The hanging out and playing video games, going out and talking over lunch, singing American Idol.
That's right I said American Idol.
It was a weird tradition that my wife and I had that if students came over our house we made them sing and play the American Idol video game...You would be surprised the students that would sing...and how they would sing...oh my...lol.
The farewell service was not about me, it was about them, it has always been about them.
I went into youth ministry to change lives, but in the end it was my life that was changed.