We ended the evening with Christmas pictionary and again, the kids did great. One team was called The Elves, the other, Team Sushi! Team Sushi prevailed I'm sure inspired by the delicious Asian treat we all enjoyed thanks to E-Joon's mom!
We ended the night with a short talk about how we want them to feel at home in our home and in our church. We reminded them that in the midst of all the Christmas happenings, it's God's love that remains the central point. Isn't that mostly what kids, and well adults, need to hear...that they are loved unconditionally...there is a place for them in this world where they will be valued, cared for and loved? As they know this in a concrete way through our church, our hope is that they will experience it in a spiritual way by meeting Christ.
Doug and I both have backgrounds in youth ministry, and we have fond, beautiful memories of the years spent pouring into kids lives. We are grateful for our youth pastor and the team of volunteer leaders who give so generously of their time to our youth. While I don't want to do youth ministry full time anymore, I have to say, it was a real pleasure to connect with these kids last night. I think it is a big mistake for pastors in churches to separate themselves from the youth and children's ministry entirely. Kids need to know their pastors and be able to connect with them on some level...their level. From my perspective, if you throw a lot of food a kids, open your home, relax and be a bit silly with them, you open doors for them to connect with your church in a much more significant way. Plus, it's fun for us oldtimers to be with the kids once in awhile!
Everything we did was old school youth ministry. No bells, no whistles, no technology...just loads of food and pathways to creating connections, friendships, and a sense of belonging. My prayer is that these kids will know how deeply they are loved.